Canada: Dementors vs Mentors: A Hogwarts Mentorship Lesson

Last Updated: September 2 2013
Article by Anne Mundy-Markell

Most Read Contributor in Canada, October 2018

As I exited Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry while on a side trip before the NALP Annual Education Conference in April, a Eureka Spell flashed, crashing into my brain like a Whomping Willow. It might have come from the wand of Professor Albus Dumbledore, one of the two greatest Hogwarts Headmasters ever and mentor to hundreds of young Hogwarts wizards and witches, to offset my recent brush with the fearsome Dementors in a (virtual) game of Quidditch over the Hogwarts castle grounds.

When the Eureka Spell hit, my field of mental vision instantaneously split into two separate side-by-side fields: Dementors on one, Mentors on the other. Eureka! — "De-Mentors" and Mentors — the bad and the good, two diametrically opposed concepts and images.

For anyone who has read J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, the horror of a Dementor is instantaneously recognizable. As described by Professor Lupin in Prisoner of Azkaban: "Dementors are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope and happiness out of the air around them.... Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory, will be sucked out of you. If it can, the Dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself—soulless and evil. You'll be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life."

In Mentors, on the other hand (as paraphrased by me with the utmost respect for J.K. Rowling), we see the very opposite of Dementors: Mentors are among the most respected and revered people to walk this earth. They illuminate the dark mysteries of professional life, they glory in the professional growth and personal resilience of everyone around them, they breathe peace, hope, and happiness into the air around them.... Get near a Mentor and good feelings and happy memories will surge forth for you. If he or she can, the Mentor will energize you long enough to develop you into something like him or herself—a dynamic and positive life force within your profession. You'll be left with one of the best experiences of your life.

To save our summer associates (in the USA), our summer law students and articling students (in Canada), and our lawyers from the gut-churning, nightmare-inducing horror of Dementors,we need to make sure that they are working in a Dementor-free zone with real Mentors — never Dementors!

Here I am using Mentor in both senses of that word — in the narrow sense of the mentor with specific developmental responsibilities for one or more assigned mentees AND in the broader sense of the mentor as someone who in his or her daily interpersonal relationships stands as an example and a guide to all in making the workplace one of positive attitude and energy.

The Dementor concept offers a terrific lead-in for a number of orientation and coaching discussions of mentorship in both senses of the word mentor, whether in groups or individually, and whether for all students and lawyers or for specifically assigned mentors or mentees.

For assigned mentorships, for example, orientation, coaching, and discussion might be —

  • on the goals of a mentorship program in a professional services context (e.g., integration, professional growth, individualized development, retention, role model, safe haven).
  • on what is expected of an assigned mentor (e.g., regular check-ins, proactive direction, positive support, coaching when necessary).
  • on what is expected of an assigned mentee (e.g., commitment to process, open to advice, support, and learning).

On mentorship writ large, discussion might be —

  • on the positive attributes of mentors (e.g., "glass half full" people, always pleasant to everyone whether professional colleague or staff, positive attitude about work and about life).
  • on how to recognize a Dementor (e.g., negative attitude, complainer, gossiper, generally unhappy except for being happy to share his or her unhappiness).
  • on how to prevent a Dementor's devastating effect in the workplace.

For fun, introduce the Dementor comparison as part of your orientation program for incoming students and professionals, as well as for staff if they come within your sphere of responsibility. Instead of using my Mentor description noted above, try assigning newcomers in groups of two or three to draft a Dementor vs Mentor comparison for themselves and then present their version to the larger group. I had fun writing mine, and I guarantee they will, too.

Discuss life experiences that have exposed people to Dementors in the guise of Muggles (non-magical people such as you and me) in ordinary street clothes, and their negative impacts (e.g., the teacher everyone feared, the sports coach who shredded team members, the cranky uncle the family hated to visit), and ask about life experiences with the Dementor's opposite, the Mentor (e.g., the adored teacher, the great sports coach, the favorite aunt).

Move those comparisons into the daily life of the workplace. Show how Dementors can infect and poison hallways, coffee break areas, and working relationships (including assigned mentoring relationships) with unremitting crankiness and complaints. Point out the difference with Mentors, who are friendly and who spread goodwill and positive energy wherever they go, both to assigned mentees and generally to all within an office.

Talk about a 100% requirement for respect in the workplace and the types of Dementor negativity that can undermine it (e.g., sarcasm, yelling, unremitting criticism at a personal level, sharptongued comments, never a kind word spoken). Commit together to create a "positivity force field" over your whole workplace to ward off any Dementors who might manage to get inside the doors.

It takes more than a wave of a magic wand to Dementor-proof a workplace to prevent it from becoming an Azkaban (J.K. Rowling's prison under Dementor control where everyone survives, though barely, in unhappiness and despair). But maybe a Hogwarts mentorship lesson will band your students, summer associates, and/or lawyers together with determination to create a workplace where mentorship and professional growth thrive and where everyone can "breathe peace, hope and happiness," "have good feelings and happy memories," and "be energized to develop into dynamic and positive life forces."

Have fun with the Dementor vs Mentor concept!

This article originally appeared in NALP Bulletin, August 2013. It is republished with permission.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions