From the voice of a mentor on National Mentoring Day

By Lauren McDonach

Today is National Mentoring Day, an initiative launched to recognise and celebrate the value of mentoring. It is therefore fitting that I reflect on my experience of being a Mentor with the Lawscot Foundation and share the benefits which it has brought to me personally and professionally.

The Lawscot Foundation was established in 2016 as a charitable organisation designed to assist academically gifted students from disadvantaged backgrounds in Scotland through their legal education. An important way that the Foundation assists those students is by pairing them with a Mentor, who is a member of the legal profession, to provide support and guidance throughout their university degree.

I wanted to support the Foundation’s initiative by becoming a Mentor as widening access to the legal profession in Scotland is something which I personally feel strongly about. Having come from a background whereby I was the first person in my family to study law at university, I firmly believe that a young person’s financial or personal circumstances should not be a barrier to studying law, and all young people should be afforded the same opportunity to have a successful legal career. I signed up to be a Mentor in 2019 in the hope that I could share my experience of the legal profession with my mentee, build their confidence and be a positive influence on their development.

After completing the application form and attending a mandatory training day, I was paired with my mentee, Chloe, who had just commenced her undergraduate degree at the University of Edinburgh. Throughout conversations, Chloe and I bonded straight away, particularly after we realised that we both grew up in the same hometown – a true coincidence!

The Lawscot Foundation allows the mentor and mentee to decide how often pairs meet, and Chloe and I arranged monthly catch-up meetings during the first year of our mentoring relationship. Our discussions at those meetings were led by Chloe as I wanted them to be a relaxed, open forum where she felt comfortable asking for guidance and support on any topic, no matter how trivial it seemed to her. At the beginning of our relationship, our discussions centred around topics such as study techniques, time management and subject choices, but as Chloe progressed in her studies, our meetings shifted to focus on professional development, covering subjects such as career advice and summer internship/traineeship applications. Outside of our meetings, we corresponded via email and text message as it was important that we kept in regular communication to build a strong mentoring relationship.

While the Lawscot Foundation requires mentors to commit to mentoring for a minimum of one year, Chloe and I developed such a close bond that we continued our relationship throughout her undergraduate degree, in addition to which Chloe successfully applied for and undertook an internship at Turcan Connell in Summer 2022.

This year, Chloe’s hard work and resilience paid off as she graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a First-Class Law degree. It truly was a rewarding moment for me when I heard about Chloe’s academic achievement and reinforced how important the initiative is to students like Chloe who may not have been able to pursue a legal career without the Foundation’s support.

The Lawscot Foundation’s mentoring scheme is vital to the continued success of the initiative, and I would encourage all those who are interested in mentoring to apply to such programmes. It has been a true privilege being Chloe’s Mentor and playing a part in her development both personally and professionally over the years. Chloe has a natural aptitude for the law and real determination to succeed, and I personally could not be prouder of her achievements.