New Zealand Law Society - Getting off to a great start

Getting off to a great start

"We need to change what has been the status quo, and the best way to do that is to shake things up and try something new. So be bold, be confident and pay it forward." Maria Sopoaga on the NZLS Pilot Mentoring Programme

Here are a few tips on how to get the most out of your mentoring partnership:

First steps

The mentee should make the first contact whether over email, phone, or video conferencing – please note virtual rather than face to face meetings are recommended at the moment due to COVID-19.

It is worth spending a little time on planning at the start of your mentoring relationship. Discuss and agree at the outset: goals and objectives, frequency of sessions, how you will review progress, and where and how you will meet virtually. Define appropriate professional boundaries and agree how the mentoring partnership may be terminated in a respectful manner should either of you wish to do so.

Commitment works. Devote time to the mentoring partnership and interact regularly. At least six to eight sessions are recommended to get the most out of the programme. Use this time wisely and if you are the mentee, take advantage of opportunities provided by your mentor and be prepared to follow up on agreed actions to ensure you get the most out of the experience.

Being a great mentor

Great mentors share knowledge, experience and act as a guide and wise counsel to a mentee. It is not meant to be a burden or take up unreasonable amounts of time.

Great mentors listen, reflect, summarise and act as a mirror for their mentee – they may help their mentee to approach an issue from a different angle or provide them with knowledge or resources that can allow them to develop their thinking about the profession and career pathways within it.

Being a great mentee

A great mentee plays a key role in driving and developing a successful mentoring partnership. Great mentees are prepared to put time into the partnership, follow-up on agreed actions and give feedback to help their mentor help them. Remember, not all mentoring is one way. Reverse mentoring is an opportunity for the mentee to help or support the mentor in an area where a mentee has valuable knowledge or experience to share.

“It gave me a true understanding that every lawyer’s career journey is unique and there is a much broader range of legal roles available than what may be readily apparent from simply attending university lectures.” 

William Fussey, NZLS Auckland Branch Young Lawyer Committee Convenor

If you have any issues or concerns about your mentoring partnership, please contact

Lawyer Listing for Bots