Every trainee at Brodies is assigned a mentor when they join. Here, trainee Kathryn Merchant and mentor Dave Bales discuss their experiences.
Kathryn: A trainee's perspective
In each of the three seats you undertake during your traineeship, you are assigned a qualified solicitor mentor. I've found the mentoring scheme to be a valuable support system, which has helped me to settle into each practice area.
One of the main benefits of the mentoring scheme is having a valuable go-to source of advice. Weekly meetings with my mentor are a great opportunity to ask any questions and catch up – although I can of course, get in touch outside these sessions.
At a typical meeting, my mentor shares tips on how best to carry out tasks and manage my ongoing workload. This helps me to complete tasks efficiently and develop confidence in my work.
While mentors can answer any work-related questions, they can also help to develop your career. Prior to the trainee quarterly review, I found it useful to discuss my goals with my mentor, who has helped me to identify challenging objectives that ensure I gain a wide variety of experience and the steps I need to take to achieve those. This support helps me to develop and improve during the course of each seat .
Dave: A mentor's perspective
I've been fortunate enough to have mentored four trainees within Real Estate, the first two of which are now fully qualified lawyers with the firm. The opportunity to pass on my experience to junior colleagues is something I've really enjoyed and would recommend to others.
The key responsibility of a mentor is to help improve the trainee’s experience and, ultimately, their performance and productivity, as well as helping to increase motivation and morale within the wider team.
The mentor experience will differ for each trainee but initially, will usually involve answering any questions (there's no such thing as a silly question!); helping to manage workloads; and dealing with any other challenges that might arise. Questions about practice area processes and time recording are typical, as are queries about business levels and how best to handle them.
As a trainee develops, the mentor can become a sounding board for their thoughts, experiences and ambitions. A good trainee should be aiming to leave the seat performing at the level of an NQ solicitor and a good mentor will help identify suitable objectives to make that happen. I think a mentor plays a vital role in ensuring that a trainee feels comfortable and confident during their eight months in a practice area, as well as feeling motivated and challenged.
Reasons for becoming a mentor
Having been a summer placement student, a trainee, an NQ and now an associate, I felt like I was well-placed to provide advice and share insight on being a trainee at a large commercial law firm. The typical day-to-day issues that arise haven't really changed since my time as a trainee here.
There wasn't a formal mentoring system when I started in 2013 but I've always been fortunate enough to have worked for people that I considered – and still consider – to be role models, from whom I have been able to watch, learn and question, all of which has been fundamental to my progression as a lawyer. That experience and knowledge (and patience!) from which I benefited was something that I was keen to pass on.
Seeing trainees coming into my practice area with next to no experience (and, in some cases, having never worked in an office environment before) and leaving the seat confident and enthusiastic is extremely rewarding.
Applications for the 2022 traineeships are open until Friday 28 August.