More than 600 legal professionals volunteer for the scheme nationwide
Legal practitioners, who have volunteered to act as mentors to the next generation of lawyers, gathered at The University of Law’s London Bloomsbury centre last week for the launch of its annual mentoring scheme.This year more than 200 legal professionals are taking part in the scheme across the University’s two London centres alone, with a total of nearly 620 mentors recruited across the University’s eight nationwide centres.The London launch event gave students, hoping to gain valuable insights into the realities of legal practice from qualified lawyers, the chance to meet their mentors for the first time.Under the scheme students with limited previous experience of the legal profession are matched with mentors from the practice areas they are interested in. Mentors offer guidance on vital areas such as network-building and gaining experience, writing job applications and dealing with interviews. The University of Law’s mentoring scheme has come a long way since its initial pilot at the University’s Chester centre in 1997 which involved just nine mentors. The popularity of the programme with both students and mentors led to the extension of the scheme to all of the centres nationwide, making the University one of the first law schools in the country to deliver mentoring on a national scale.Bridget Lavin, Careers Consultant at The University of Law and the organiser of the London scheme, said: “More and more solicitors and barristers are coming forward to offer their services as they know how challenging it can be to gain a foothold in the profession and many volunteer year after year. Successful lawyers can share a wealth of practical experience and wisdom and taking part also contributes to their own career development by building their mentoring and people skills.“The students find it invaluable as they learn more about their areas of interest and gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be in practice, which builds their self-confidence.”The scheme attracts solicitors from corporate, commercial and high street firms as well as publicly funded and government organisations. Mentors at the University’s Birmingham and London Bloomsbury centres also include practising barristers. All receive full support from University staff before being paired with their mentees.
Victoria Ogden, a solicitor with Ince & Co, is participating in the London mentoring programme for the fourth year running. She said: “I am proud to support such a great scheme. It can be difficult to know where to start when trying to secure work experience or a training contract within the legal profession. The task of researching firms, completing applications and attending interviews alongside the demands of the GDL or LPC can be very daunting. I hope to share with my mentee some insight into the legal industry and my experiences of applying to and working within law firms. Many people gave me advice and guidance when I was a law student and I now hope to be able to do the same. I was delighted to learn recently that my mentee from last year’s scheme went on to secure a training contract at a City firm in the practice area of her choice.”
Solicitor Victoria Ogden (left) meets her mentee for 2013/14, London Bloomsbury student Jaime O'Connell
Fellow London mentor Rebecca Aron, a former University of Law student currently in the second year of her training contract with Hodge Jones & Allen LLP, added: “I was lucky enough to have a mentor when I was at The University of Law and she was instrumental in helping me secure a training contract. It’s sometimes difficult as a student to get an idea of what life as a solicitor is actually like so I hope I will be able to give my mentee a realistic picture of what practising as a solicitor entails. I also hope to provide support for my mentee during his search for a training contact, which can be a difficult time.”
Mentor Rebecca Aron (left) chats to her mentee Richard Acheampong, a student at the University’s London Moorgate centre, and his fellow student Sahel Pirzadeh from the London Bloomsbury centre
Edward Harper, a student at the University’s London Bloomsbury centre, is a former mentee who has secured a training contract with a medium-sized London firm with a specialism in commercial property and education. He said: “The University of Law Mentoring Scheme helped me gain a training contract. Without the help and guidance of my mentor, who was always willing to answer the phone and emails, I would never have been made aware of the sheer number of different opportunities for interesting work beyond that found in the large City firms. As a part-time student the mentoring scheme gave me crucial insight into where I really wanted to take my career.”
Lucy Wray, Public Relations Manager, The University of Law on 01483 216072 (firstname.lastname@example.org)