Mentoring Application Guidelines

The Women Lawyers Forum believes that one of the best ways to support women in the practice of law and ensure their continued and successful participation in the legal profession is through mentoring.

We recognize that many women do not get the opportunity to be mentored during their professional career. There are many reasons for this including the following: they live in smaller communities where senior lawyers are not available or they prefer someone outside of their immediate community; there is no one in their workplace available to mentor or they would prefer to be mentored by someone who does not work with them; or, although there are male mentors available, they prefer to be mentored by another woman, who can identify with the challenges that women lawyers face in practicing law. The goal of the CBABC Women Lawyers Forum Mentoring Program is to encourage and support women lawyers to act as mentors and ensure that all women who want to be mentored will have that opportunity.

This program is designed to operate throughout the province so that all women lawyers in BC will have the chance to be mentored. It is especially important for women lawyers from small communities to have the opportunity to be mentored by other women lawyers so that they are not left to feel isolated and alone. Remote mentoring is sometimes preferred by women from small communities so that they can safely discuss personal issues important to them with a mentor outside of their immediate community. Mentoring can easily be done by phone or computer and does not require face-to–face meetings. As such, we encourage women from all across BC to join this program and to be open to a mentoring relationship with someone outside of their geographic area.

While the developmental opportunities for the Mentee are obvious, there are many benefits for the Mentor as well. The Mentor will:

  • develop better leadership, management and communication skills;
  • learn about the attitudes, interests and values of other lawyers;
  • participate in shared learning;
  • gain personal support from the Mentee;
  • leave a legacy by giving back to the profession and help to ensure that increasing numbers of women lawyers continue to practice law; and
  • have fun!

The mentoring relationship is a partnership through which both parties will learn and benefit. Mentoring can be done face-to-face, over the telephone, by email or using the computer. The Mentee will take an active role in the sessions by setting out her goals and being responsible for her own learning.  Essentially, mentoring is a collaborative learning partnership.

Both mentoring someone and being mentored are an honour and a privilege. Mentorship can be the most important developmental support that a lawyer receives during her career. The Women Lawyers Forum is grateful to all those who participate in this program and give it their time and energy.

+

Any woman lawyer or articling student in British Columbia who is a CBA and WLF member may participate in the Mentoring Program.  The program is also available to any foreign-trained woman lawyer who has started or completed the NCA process and is a CBA and WLF member.  Mentors may be practicing, non-practicing or retired members of the Law Society of BC.  There is no minimum number of years of call to be a Mentor, but we suggest that women lawyers with at least 6 years of practice apply to be Mentors, as experience has shown that this best meets the expectations of both parties.

The parties must enter into a Mentoring Agreement supplied by the Mentoring Committee if they wish to participate in this program.

+

For those interested, the Mentoring Program will match lawyers of similar years of experience to participate as Peer Mentors. In particular, if there are not enough Mentors available to match with all of the Mentee applicants, Mentees will have the option of joining a peer mentoring relationship as an alternative.  Peer mentoring follows essentially the same guidelines as ordinary mentoring, except that in peer mentoring, both parties should set out their learning goals and focus on assisting each other to reach them.

+

The Mentoring Committee of the CBABC Women Lawyers Forum makes best efforts to match Mentors with Mentees based on the detailed information provided on the Enrolment Form. Where there is no suitable Mentor in an applicant’s preferred geographic area, mentoring can take place over the phone, using the computer or by email. Often successful mentorship relationships can develop between lawyers in different cities.  There are many creative ways that Mentors and Mentees can choose to connect.

As noted above, Mentees should indicate on the Enrolment Form whether they would be willing to be matched with a Peer Mentor if there are not enough Mentors available.

+

The usual mentoring partnership will last for a period of one year unless the parties chose to end it sooner.The Mentoring Program will start in October and continue until the end of the following September.

The parties may continue with their mentoring relationship beyond the year-end if they choose, but any formal obligation on their part as well as the involvement of the Mentoring Committee will end after one year,  save for the obligation of confidentiality which will remain.

+

Mentoring is a collaborative learning partnership where both the Mentor and the Mentee will benefit and learn from each other.  The parties should, at the beginning of the mentoring relationship, set out the goals they would each like to achieve over the course of the year.  Setting this out in writing will assist the parties to be clear on the expectations and the learning agenda of the Mentee and, if appropriate, the Mentor.

Goals can include professional development, career planning, networking, work-life balance issues and any other professional or personal issues that the parties agree to discuss.

Mentoring is not counseling.  Mentors do not have experience in recognizing or helping with issues such as suicide, depression, substance abuse or other serious medical conditions. Mentees are encouraged to seek independent medical or mental health assistance for these or any other conditions and not look to the Mentor for assistance in these areas. For example, the parties may wish to investigate the assistance provided through the Lawyers Assistance Program and PPC Canada.

If a Mentee believes that she may be facing discrimination or harassment in her workplace, then she may be able to discuss the matter with her Mentor; however, if the Mentor feels that the Mentee should speak to someone more formally, then the parties may wish to investigate the assistance provided through the Law Society’s Equity Ombudsperson.

+

The parties should keep everything that is discussed between them strictly confidential unless they have the explicit permission of the other party to release it. This confidentiality agreement should continue even when the formal mentoring relationship has ended.