Partner and Head of Growth Julia Hepner shares her mentoring story and explains how it benefits both parties
January is officially Mentoring Month; the purpose being to raise awareness about the power and impact of mentoring, positively influencing the lives of others. Mentoring is giving as much or as little as you can; it can provide guidance and support, and help to build confidence and self-esteem. Beyond that, it’s thoroughly enjoyable.
Mentoring is hugely important to us at MD Communications. We have two superb mentees with whom we are working to help them with any aspect of their legal careers. We genuinely care about the success of our mentees and will go out of our way to help them achieve success.
A chance meeting
We were fortunate that our mentees came into our lives by chance. We had been asked by Daniel Winterfeldt of InterLaw Diversity Forum if we would donate our time and effort to run a networking event. Right up our street, so we willingly agreed.
Over an hour went by easily in a room packed with attendees of all ages and PQEs; an interactive and fun session which clearly put everyone at ease. It gave even the most shy, the confidence to practice their networking at the drinks afterwards.
It was at those drinks that Lauren Cousins and Shelaine Mitchell (amongst others), came and thanked us for the session. We got chatting and quickly realised that these young women, whilst brilliant, enthusiastic and confident, might benefit from mentoring. In our own experience, the legal world can be intimidating and daunting at times; having a more experienced person to act as a sounding board can be an invaluable support.
Neither my colleague Linsay nor I had mentored anyone (formally) before. Yes, we both had supervised trainees and junior lawyers, but this seemed different; a more holistic and gentle approach than giving legal supervision. As Linsay and I know all about the importance of professional relationships, we felt the value we could offer to Lauren and Shelaine as they become more qualified, might be our contacts. So, having connected with them on LinkedIn, I extended the invitation to mentor; opening up our network to them and giving them any and all help, advice and friendship they may (or may not) need as they forge ahead in their careers.
Both Shelaine and Lauren had the good grace to embrace the idea and accepted our invitation.
What happened next
Less than a month later, we were hosting a pre-IBA party. It would be jam-packed with the great and the good from the world of law (both solicitors and from the Bar), journalists and friends. What better way to help two young lawyers extend their reach into our world? They came, each alone, and they conquered. Our clients, when they understood who they were, were blown away by these two brave young women who embraced the spirit of the evening and got stuck into conversation with anyone and everyone they could, despite many of the attendees being senior, important people. Who, incidentally (and without exception), welcomed Shelaine and Lauren as equals.
Linsay and I were immensely proud. We have since brought them to other events and they have conducted themselves with the same aplomb. Both have said they would never have otherwise had the opportunity to attend those events, or if they had been invited, would have been unlikely to go, but for our mentoring. They have met people who they perhaps may have been intimidated to speak to before; but now aren’t. Hopefully, this won’t just be about legal sector events, but career steer (should they ever need it) and, more than that, friendship.
A different point of view
I’m not sure who benefits most from our new mentoring relationship; Linsay and I have an advantage of being taught a different perspective of the profession, when the legal sector is almost entirely unrecognisable to the way it was when we were junior. The biggest advantage of all is how easy it is to offer someone junior some support.
Perhaps we have just struck lucky with two amazing young lawyers who don’t need much help; but if at any point they do, we will be here.