When a firm has a mentoring policy, it typically identifies who will serve as mentor. It will identify the mentees, typically articling students and recent calls. Effectively, the firm creates the team. This may be the only practical way to start. What influences the choice of mentor? Some people are just not cut from the right cloth to serve as mentors. Some people should not mentor some specific other people.
Consider these questions:
Change is good
Once the relationship has started, the mentee may be able to identify a better prospective mentor. Both the mentor and the mentee should be able to determine whether the team will be, or has been, effective. Specifically, the mentor should be sensitive to whether the relationship is working, or is likely to work. The mentee may be unwilling to raise the awkward subject. The firm should encourage a switch of mentor where this can assist the success of the relationship.
Mentoring is far too important to be left to random chance. It requires thought. It requires attention. Often, it requires fine-tuning or even change.
A trial lawyer since 1978, I have extensive experience in the art of asking questions, both in and out of the courtroom. I use my expertise to teach lawyers how to ask questions effectively to build rapport in interview situations. I also help politicians develop the skills necessary to adeptly handle questions from debate opponents, from the press and from the public. I am the author of a series of handbooks on the subject of interview skills for professionals.