I am a Senior Associate Solicitor at Ellis Jones and have been both a mentee and a mentor as part of the firm's mentoring scheme.
I first joined Ellis Jones as a Solicitor in 2018 in the Banking and Finance Litigation team, having never been mentored as part of my education or career path before. Prior to joining Ellis Jones, I had qualified into Commercial Dispute Resolution at another local firm and so it was important to me that I was going to be able to use the skills I had already developed, but also learn new skills and gain knowledge of banking and finance as a new area to me. The culture within Ellis Jones has provided me with both the encouragement and freedom I needed to do this and more, such that I have been promoted twice in the last four years and have been able to explore various different niche areas of work. That support has seen my work be recognised in local and national press, radio and television.
One of the best things about Ellis Jones, in my view, is the people. Everyone is friendly, down to earth and supportive of each other. The mentoring scheme was set up a few years ago and has not only been a good way of bringing people from different departments together, but has also enabled more senior lawyers to pass on some of what they have learned to juniors members of staff, who then benefit from their experience and support.
Under the mentoring scheme, Associates and Senior Associates within the firm mentor junior members of staff, to include Paralegals, Trainees, Legal Executives and Solicitors. Mentors are assigned mentees from different departments to them and arrange to meet with those mentees on an informal basis 6 times a year. What is spoken about during those meetings is entirely up to the mentor and mentee, but for many it is a good opportunity to discuss career progression and anything else that might be on the mentee's mind e.g. soft skills, billing, dealing with clients etc.
I personally prefer to keep mentoring sessions informal and will often mix up how I meet with my mentees. For example, I might arrange to meet my mentees for a coffee or lunch a few times to build rapport, but also have some meetings in the office and/or virtually if they are long distance. We also have whole group mentoring sessions around 4 times a year, where all those participating in the scheme meet for a presentation that is usually presented by one of the Partners at the firm.
The mentoring scheme has been very popular within the firm and a number of people have been able to use the advice they have been given by mentors to progress within the firm. I am one of those people, having first experienced the scheme as a mentee being mentored by a Senior Associate. I have now been a mentor to 5 junior members of staff and can categorically say that the advice I was given by my own mentor at the outset of my journey has helped me to get to where I am today.
I very much enjoy mentoring junior members of staff at the firm; it is one of the best aspects of my role. I find it incredibly rewarding to see mentees grow in confidence and thrive in whatever it is that they choose to do as a result of the advice and direction that I given. It is so important to ensure that junior members of staff are able to talk about their experiences, ask questions and feel supported on their career paths, particularly now that flexible working is becoming the norm. Ellis Jones have been aware of this for a long time and the mentoring scheme is just one of the ways in which we achieve our core values of building relationships, providing support, taking responsibility and encouraging a positive working environment.