Mentorship in Times of Crisis – Recruiting Mentors and Mentees for Mentorship Programs

April 9, 2020

Listen to our Practically Speaking Podcast on this topic:

In these unprecedented times, it is all the more important for us to help one another deal with the challenges and isolation caused by the office closures, remote work arrangements and financial fallout we may be experiencing.

Though in-person meetings should be avoided, valuable mentorship can still be provided by video or telephone, and we are inviting new participants to engage remotely in both our Mentor Connect and Mentor Express programs.

What does each program offer and who should sign up?

Mentor Connect

Mentor Connect engages experienced counsel to guide those with less experience in realizing their career goals and achieving greater personal and professional balance in their lives. The program matches individual lawyers and mentors based on areas of law, career paths and shared interests to build a meaningful mentoring relationship.

We are currently looking for both mentees and mentors to join the program. Articling students and early career lawyers are encouraged to participate as mentees, and any lawyers, whether full-time, part-time, active or inactive, are welcome to participate as mentors if they have practised law for at least five years.

Based on some of the mentees we have waiting in the queue, we are seeking mentors from all backgrounds but especially female lawyers, solo or small firm practitioners, and those with experience in immigration, civil litigation, family/domestic or criminal defense law.

Register as a mentee or mentor, or read more about Mentor Connect.

Mentor Express

If you are looking for an alternative to traditional mentorship programs, Mentor Express lets mentees meet a series of different mentors over the course of the program year instead of just committing to a single mentor. Mentees browse an online listing of mentors and choose individual sessions with whichever mentors they are interested in meeting. The self-match system allows mentees to seek guidance and insight relevant to their own career development with a variety of mentors in different practice areas and settings.

We currently have a full slate of mentors for Mentor Express but there are still a few places for articling students and full-time, part-time, active or inactive lawyers interested in joining the program as mentees. If you are interested in joining as a mentor, we will be accepting applications for the 2021 program cycle later this year, so please stay tuned.

Register as a mentee, or read more about Mentor Express.

How to Engage in Remote Mentorship

While you should not be meeting face-to-face during this time, there are still ways to facilitate meaningful remote mentorship.

Video conferencing technology has come a long way and there are many tools available. These types of software allow you to view your colleague through any Windows or Mac computer, tablet or smart phone screen and chat live as if you were in the same room. This allows mentees and mentors alike to easily discuss complex issues or questions of the profession. The programs are easy to use and are either free or available for a small monthly subscription fee.

It’s important to be aware of your surroundings and conscious of any background noises or potential audio issues. Follow these best practices to ensure you get the most out of your video mentorship:

  • Arrive to the meeting early to make sure that you are set up properly.
  • Test your audio and video before entering the conversation to minimize any technical issues.
  • Wear work-appropriate clothing to maintain professionalism. Don’t wear anything loud or distracting that could interfere with the session.
  • Mute your microphone whenever you aren’t speaking to minimize background noise.
  • Place the web camera at eye level to help establish eye contact.
  • Ensure your setting has appropriate lighting, which includes avoiding any backlighting (i.e. windows or lamps) that could cause harsh silhouettes.
  • Make sure the background of your video doesn’t have any distracting décor or wall art.
  • Find a private place to conduct your video conference to avoid disruptions and allow you to speak freely.

If video conferencing seems too daunting for you, you can always have a simple conversation over the telephone. Remote mentorship does not need to be complex or high-tech – it is about exchanging valuable advice.

Regardless of the method you choose, remote mentorship requires communication from both parties. If you’re participating in Mentor Connect, we recommend that you set up a schedule with your mentee/mentor at the onset to ensure that you connect on a regular basis. If you’re meeting online through Mentor Express, the mentee should contact their mentor ahead of time to confirm what method they prefer.

If you have any questions about remote mentorship and how it can work for you, contact our Mentorship team.