Established by the Law Society of Scotland in 2016, the Lawscot Foundation helps academically talented students from less-advantaged backgrounds access the legal profession by supporting them throughout their legal education.
In addition to offering financial assistance, one of the main initiatives ran by the Lawscot Foundation is their mentoring platform, that seeks to connect university students with solicitors and trainee solicitors who can offer their guidance and support to students as they make the transition from school to university, and, ultimately, to the workplace. The scheme offers students a valuable insight into the legal sector, that they otherwise may not have been exposed to.
Why did I volunteer?
Brodies is one of the Lawscot Foundation's main sponsors, and after hearing about the mentoring programme, I knew this was something I wanted to support and devote my time to. Social mobility is extremely important to me, having been the first person in my immediate family to attend university. I wanted to offer my advice to students studying law, providing them with encouragement throughout both their studies, and, the application process for summer placements and traineeships.
Becoming a successful mentor
In order to join the mentoring programme, all prospective mentors need to complete the Lawscot Foundation's application form, explaining why you are interested in mentoring one of the students.
Once successful, I was invited to attend a compulsory training session that is designed to teach mentors how to develop the best relationship with their mentee, including learning how to set realistic goals and objectives. We discussed the key skills mentors should possess; importantly mentors should have the ability to help their mentee gain new skills while proving ongoing unbiased support.
Meeting with my mentee
After I had completed my training, I was finally introduced to my mentee, and we began to build our relationship. The Lawscot Foundation lets you decide how often you would like to meet so we made the decision to meet bi-weekly which suited both our schedules.
Over the course of the last year, I let my mentee guide our sessions, actively listening in order to better understand what support she needed from me. We discussed various subjects such as how to manage your time effectively, how to study for exams and what type of work experience is available for first year law students. I also helped my mentee prepare her very first CV, showing her an example of what to include to make it stand out from the crowd!
Mutually beneficial relationship
My mentoring experience has been extremely rewarding! It is very fulfilling to help someone work towards achieving their goals and navigate the legal sector for the very first time.
Not only do I enjoy celebrating my mentee's achievements, but I also value the skills I have developed along the way, especially as a trainee solicitor. Mentoring has allowed me to enhance my communication and interpersonal skills, creating a safe space for my mentee to share their thoughts and feelings, all while gaining an appreciation for different backgrounds and perspectives. It has truly been a mutually-beneficial experience.
While the Lawscot Foundation asks applicants to commit to the mentoring programme for a minimum twelve month period, my mentee and I have agreed to continue our relationship over the coming year as she embarks on her second year of university.
Milly Berndes-Cade, Outreach Development Officer at The Law Society of Scotland, has championed the Lawscot Foundation's mentoring programme, praising the work mentors do:
"Our mentors make an enormous contribution to the future of the young person they're matched with and to the future shape of our profession, while also developing their own leadership and management skills. For many of our students their mentor is the first solicitor they've ever met. It's a relationship that builds confidence and knowledge while showing our students they belong in the legal profession".
Applications for new mentors are now closed, the next recruitment cycle will take place in August 2024. However, you can register your interest with Milly.
Being a Lawscot Foundation mentor is an extremely rewarding experience and I would encourage anyone who wants to support the next generation of future lawyers to apply!