Who should be a Mentor or a Mentee:
Whether you are among the new generation of legal support staff, a seasoned legal secretary or paralegal, or somewhere in between, our belief is that there is always something new we can learn from or teach each other. We promote a reciprocal relationship where the mentor is also open to learning something new from the mentee.
Some areas in which you may wish to offer or seek mentorship include:
1. Switching to a new area of law that requires the use of new forms and procedures;
2. Navigating our way through the Supreme Court Civil Rules (2010) and ever changing regulations;
3. Electronic filing through BCOnline;
4. Adapting to new technology at the office from Microsoft Office upgrades to legal support software like EsiLaw and TimeMatters, among others; and
5. Most of all, having a supportive person you can call or email when you need to navigate your way through the realities and practicalities of working in law.
Our Mentor-Mentee Relationship Guidelines:
Once matched up, the mentor will contact the mentee to arrange a first meeting.
We ask for a minimum commitment of six-hours over a twelve month period. This can be achieved in a variety of ways, such as: one six-hour session; six one-hour lunches; twelve 30-minute coffee breaks; or spending time talking on the phone or by email. You can, of course, spend more time together if desired.
The Victoria Legal Support Staff Association Mentorship Program is a mentoring program which began in 2004.
After speaking with a number of legal office assistant students who had not been getting much feedback, our own Ramona Reynolds decided we needed to embark on a mentorship program. The idea was that legal office administration students need an opportunity to learn and ask questions about industry and career issues in a setting outside a formal classroom. With that in mind, Ramona, worked with a number of people to match up legal office administration students with employed and experienced legal assistants in a mentor/student relationship.
- To match experienced legal support staff with those interested in becoming legal assistants, currently employed legal assistants in need of advice or students in need of advice with their career.
- To allow students to develop a relationship with experienced legal support staff outside the formal education setting.
- To give students the opportunity to learn about industry and career-related issues in an informal setting.
- To give experienced legal support staff the opportunity to guide and mentor those just starting out in their careers.
Participation in the VLSA Mentorship Program is purely voluntary, on the part of both the students and the mentors. Principles which guide both mentors and students in this program are as follows:
- The program is designed to provide students with a mentor to guide and help them by discussing topics of interest to both parties.
- The program is not intended to provide employment from the mentors’ employer.
- Students should respect their mentors’ valuable time, and attend all meetings confirmed by their mentors.
- Discussions between mentors and students should be positive, fruitful and whenever possible, fun!
Benefits for students
- Students learn how to use and access additional resources.
- In addition to their own, they get to know and develop relationships with the mentors of the other students in the program.
- They appreciate getting their mentors’ perspectives on problems they are having. It’s easier to explore issues with their mentors than with their partners or parents because mentors aren’t as emotionally involved as their partners or parents.
- By talking to their mentors about problems they are having in the workplace, it helps them problem solve.
- Through the program, students can gain insight into the practice of law by spending time in a legal assistant’s workplace, observing courtroom work, providing this agreeable to the mentor, and by attending Victoria Legal Support Staff Association meetings and education programs.
Overall Benefits of this Program:
- Mentoring relationships enhance students’ self-esteem.
- Mentoring relationships can support achievement in powerful ways. A trusting relationship with a mentor can offer a student a base of support, safety and encouragement for taking the risks required for new learning to take place.
- When students like and admire their mentors, they wish to imitate them. Thus, mentors can be effective role models for many complex behaviors, values and attitudes.
- During periods of transition, people of any age benefit from mentoring.