I moved to Ottawa in 2011 to commence my articles. Since then, I have had the good fortune to cross paths with several members of the Ottawa Bar with whom I established mentee/mentor relationships. They have played an integral role in my development as a junior lawyer. Based on my experience, it is essential:
- that the mentee/mentor relationship is a good fit;
- to have more than one mentor; and
- to always thank your mentors for their time.
Much like a personal relationship, there should be a natural chemistry between mentee and mentor. It should be evident that the mentor has a genuine interest in guiding the mentee. If that is not the case, accept the relationship for what it is, and move on. Do not force something that does not exist naturally.
As junior lawyers, there are many challenging situations thrown our way every day such as:
- managing our case loads,
- managing relationships with our colleagues,
- negotiating our contract and benefits, and
- managing our work-life balance.
That said and depending on the issue, it may be essential to have more than one mentor. For example, if you have established a mentee-mentor relationship at your place of employment, it would be imprudent to discuss your desire to join the military with them over lunch. Consequently, having mentors both inside and outside the place of employment is essential. From my experience, the Advocacy Club is an excellent resource to find a mentor.
To conclude, I lived in the world of private practice. There the billable hour reigns. Try to remember that the time your mentor is giving you is cutting into their billable and personal time. Therefore, make sure you let your mentor know that you appreciate their time.
by Lt. (N) Charlotte Porter, Advocacy Club Member