– Mahatma Gandhi (a lawyer, as it happens)
Is mentoring for me?
If you want to develop and grow professionally, or just feel more fulfilled and happy, then having a mentor is for you. It may be that you feel stuck, or have a specific situation to work your way through, in which case being mentored can make a hugely positive difference. But really, the desire to evolve is all that is needed in order to benefit from mentoring. And it is a strength, not a weakness, to recognise that some empathetic support may help to bring out the best in you.
The challenges we face
Throughout our legal careers, we can expect to change jobs or roles every few years or so. There will be periods of particular intensity or uncertainty, and maybe a career break or a redundancy. Against the background of a legal sector disrupted by consolidation, increased competition and technological advances – and the impact that has on work pressures and profitability – most of us are struggling to maintain a healthy work/life balance, let alone progress our careers. Many people look for mentor support to develop career skills, for personal development, goal-setting, or strategic planning, but the list is non-exhaustive. As a professional lawyer, you owe it to yourself to take time to focus on problem areas, skill development and career options. If you don’t, the price can be high: health, happiness and relationships are likely to suffer. It is not self-serving to want to develop and grow, it is an act of leadership, which will impact positively not only on your own life, but also on the people around you.
What does it involve?
The mentoring we offer will be tailored for you individually, so it is suitable for all roles, whether you are in-house or in private practice, and regardless of seniority. We offer confidential, experienced peer support, which will explore your desires and potential and help you to work towards new goals or resolve issues, whilst developing new skills along the way. The key elements of our relationship are that it is structured, trusting, respectful and non-judging. We have an introductory session before you commit to a programme, so that you can get comfortable about our working relationship. We then ask you to commit to an agreed programme – typically 6 months – of working together. We will enter into an agreement (well, we’re lawyers…what did you expect?!) that sets out our understanding. During this time, we will meet monthly, either in person or by video conference, and monitor how you’re doing in between sessions. At the end of the 6 month period we will review and decide on any on-going support, depending on your requirements.
About the mentor
Nicola Proudlock has been mentoring professionals and students for many years. She has been working in the legal sector for 25 years, in private practice, as an in-house lawyer, and now in her own legal services business. Having been through many career iterations herself, she is passionate about helping others to break down perceived barriers, and to grow. Nicola says “I often feel blown away by the knowledge, drive and commitment that I come across in my professional circles…the problem is that people are reluctant to seek support, even when they are facing the most difficult challenges. But all great leaders recognise that they can’t do it alone. Sometimes, the biggest hurdle to overcome is to get people to recognise that reaching out to someone is a strength. Once this happens, the effects of mentoring can be transformational.”