Consider these questions:
- Should senior men serve as mentors for junior women, and vice versa?
- How about Francophones and Anglophones?
- What about diversity issues, where religion, race, culture or other factors are in play?
- Is there an appropriate age limit on who should serve as an effective mentor?
- Who should serve as mentor for the older junior associate?
- Where there are practice groups, should the mentor and mentee come from the same or different groups?
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.