The law industry’s business landscape is complex and everchanging. Navigating it successfully is critical, whilst also learning to develop a combination of soft and hard skill sets along the way.

Those who are given the luxury of a strong mentor at the early stages of their career can acquire a tool kit of professional benefits. These will include not only an understanding of how to achieve promotions but also how to best secure increased salaries. Equally important, research shows that they also acquire greater commitment and loyalty to their employer whilst building a stronger identity and enjoying greater job satisfaction.

Research also shows that there are many personal benefits to be gained such as better physical health and self-esteem as well as stronger communication and relationship building skills. These in turn boost a legal professional’s ability to confidently and capably network and secure, as well as develop, business opportunities.

At it’s best mentoring can change lives, transform careers, boost staff retention and maximize your employees potential and productivity.

More than 70% of Fortune 500 companies offer mentorship programs. However, evidence indicates that poor mentoring can be worse for employees than no offer of mentorship at all. Mentors that lack the appropriate skills or are ill-prepared not only dampen the initiative, but also sabotage an employer’s retention rates and their employees commitment, whilst harming their personal and professional development – the very same objectives that drove the initiative in the first place.

So what is the art of successful mentorship? Whether you are considering the practice of your own program or are simply wanting to create a mentorship initiative for your organisation, this guide has been written to support your success.

Carefully assess mentors prior to your selection based on their virtues as well as their demonstrated abilities.

A good mentor is motivated and energized about developing others, it is crucial that they are able and willing to commit their time to the principle. Highly rated mentors are top performers, authentic and approachable, with exceptional levels of emotional intelligence and empathy. These virtues and abilities cannot be taught or instilled during training or workshops; you must recruit people who demonstrate them already in their day to day practice.

Mentors could be chosen by Directors and managers, however ask yourself, which mid – senior level employees do new hires naturally gravitate towards for advice and counsel? Don’t be afraid to ask your junior staff who they consider to be the most generous, caring and informed employees within your workplace. Then assess which of these have the highest EQ, the best communication skills and track record of achievement.

Once you have selected the most suited employees to act as your business mentors you must of course provide them with the tools and support they need to succeed.

It’s a good idea to schedule and diarise monthly meetings, discussions and Q&A lunches. These should never be cancelled or rescheduled and must be prioritised throughout the business. Invite subject matter experts to attend these meetings and invest in focused mentor skill building workshops with follow up discussions and consultations attended by your senior leaders. Management must be fully engaged to reinforce the message and business commitment to a mentoring culture.

How to accelerate your mentorship program once training has taken place.

Ongoing support for your mentors should be provided and prioritised but to accelerate your mentorship program further you must offer not only regular training and consultation but also your accomplished mentors should be provided with the same advancement opportunities offered to high-talent hires. Reward and recognise their accomplishments and quality of mentorship, with awards, public recognition and other perks to help build and reinforce a clear message of priority.

When accompanied by perks and recognition, the selection of your business mentors will become a competitive process thus boosting your firm’s program but also attributing to a natural, informal and organic culture of mentorship throughout the company.

A mentorship program involves hard work, commitment and resources however when done well it can elevate your firm’s productivity, improve employee relations, reduce attrition as well as boost your reputation. It will also serve to enhance and aid your company culture, candidate attraction, hiring and retention of expert legal professionals.

If you are a legal professional considering a change within your career or a hiring manager seeking staff, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us to discuss your requirements in confidence.

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