Kent Law student James Mapley is in the enviable position of being able to choose from one of three offers for a training contract this summer; a position which he attributes in part to support he has received through the Law School’s Professional Mentoring Scheme.
James was assigned to mentor Mike Potts at the beginning of the second year of his Law LLB studies at Kent after learning about the Mentoring Scheme at a professional networking event for mentors and mentees in London. The annual event is organised as part of the Scheme by the Law School’s Employability and Career Development Officer Jayne Instone.
Jayne said: ‘We now have more than 100 mentors registered in the Professional Mentoring Scheme – in addition to legal professionals working in the UK, the Scheme includes mentors based in Canada, Nigeria, Trinidad and Tobago, Malaysia, UAE, and Jersey. Mentors, many of whom are alumni, volunteer their time to help students develop their understanding of the legal world and to navigate the application process for both work and study. They work with their mentees over the course of one academic year, from the beginning of the Autumn term until the end of the Spring term. Students benefit from being able to speak with legal professionals about their work and how best to approach the recruitment process, including advice on their CVs, mock interviews and assistance with applications. Many mentors go beyond the expectations of the scheme introducing mentees to others who may help them with their career planning, meeting face-to-face, assisting with work experience and more.’
James and Mike were in regular contract throughout the year they were paired together, with Mike happy to advise and assist as James undertook five weeks of summer schemes at three different firms and embarked upon the process of completing training contract applications.
A training contract is a two-year period of training with a law firm, recognised by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), and the final stage on the path to qualifying as a solicitor. The training period enables graduates to understand the practical implication of the law develop legal skills, commercial and financial awareness, negotiation skills, drafting, advocacy and client care skills. Many firms, especially larger commercial firms, look to fill these training places two years in advance. Law students are encouraged to begin applying to these type of firms during the final term of the second year of their law degree.
James said: ‘Mike has been instrumental in helping me understand the process and it has clearly worked in achieving these three offers. I’m delighted to say I will be accepting a training contract with Irwin Mitchell to commence in 2018. I’ve gained so much from the Mentoring Scheme and I’ve built a good rapport with Mike. In the business world, as I’m learning more and more, these contacts you make are golden for opportunities later in life – you never know when you might need them and vice versa.’
Mike (pictured above) currently works as an IT Engagement Consultant at Linklaters in London. He qualified as a solicitor in 2008 before moving into the world of IT in 2011.
Mike said: ‘James has been the ideal mentee. He’s a genuine and incredibly likeable chap with an impressive CV – both academically and socially. He asked a ton of questions, which was really encouraging, and it’s been interesting to see his progress during the last year. He’s got a great attitude which will serve him well. I can’t recommend the Mentoring Scheme enough.’
James is full of praise for the Law School’s Mentoring Scheme too: ‘I have found my involvement with the Mentoring Scheme over the last two years to be brilliant and I really appreciate the way it is organised – I have really enjoyed the experience.’
The Mentoring Scheme was first set up in 2011 by the Young Alumni Fundraising Group. Kent alumna Madelaine Power, a Litigation and Employment Barrister at AMJ in Oman (and also Door Tenant at 7 Bedford Row, London) was a founding member of the Scheme. She said: ‘I know the mentees have found the advice, support and often work experience invaluable. It is a clear demonstration that Kent Law School has trained, and continues to train, the very best and brightest who have gone on to be excellent lawyers and people willing to help others get a foot in the door.’
Full details about the Scheme (and an application form) are available to students via Moodle (see: DP1950 Employability). The scheme is open to any student returning to Kent Law School in September 2016 who is considering a legal career – students are encouraged to apply early in order to achieve the best match and international students seeking an international mentor are urged to apply as soon as possible in order to be matched with a mentor before the end of the summer vacation. Membership of the scheme includes professional training in networking and an opportunity to practice skills at the Scheme’s annual networking event in London.
As the Scheme continues to grow, Jayne welcomes enquiries from Kent alumni who would like to get involved, particularly from international alumni who have returned to their home countries to work in the legal profession or who have stayed in the UK to qualify. Anyone interested in becoming a mentor can contact Jayne via email: firstname.lastname@example.org