Mentor Program helps equip future lawyers for success in their profession
WA Law students taking part in the Mentor Program. Photo: Law Society of Western Australia.
Mentors are playing a vital role in preparing Law students at The University of Notre Dame Australia for their future professions.
Administered by Notre Dame’s School of Law, Fremantle, and in conjunction with the Young Lawyers Committee of the Law Society of WA (YLC) and Edith Cowan University, the program matches law students in their penultimate and final years with a lawyer who has five years or less practising experience.
Students meet with their mentors over the course of a year and are provided with valuable experience to help them make important decisions that relate to their future after graduation, such as choosing electives and applying for jobs.
Law student Georgia MacKay was part of this program in 2015. Georgia said the program opened up more opportunities to make connections with those in the legal profession than she would have as a student alone.
“I was paired with a mentor whose previous experience and work in international and diplomatic law was almost too impressive to be true. After numerous meetings, my mentor and I became professional colleagues,” Georgia said.
“My mentor also invited me to several Law Society events, the most memorable being a breakfast held by Chief Justice Robert French. I was able to shake the Chief Justice’s hand and discuss the problems surrounding access to justice in our State with His Honour and Chief Justice Wayne Martin.”
Over the past two years, approximately 25 students from the School of Law have participated in the program. This reflects the School’s top ratings on the Federal Government’s Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching website. Notre Dame’s School of Law is rated first in Western Australia for ‘Overall Quality of Educational Experience’ and ‘Student Support’ for undergraduate students.
Dr Lara Pratt, Senior Lecturer in the School of Law and Coordinator of the Mentor Program, said the mentors are in a great position to provide insight to students about the profession, having recently been through the transition from student to lawyer themselves.
“Just as importantly, they can give advice about the realities of life as a junior member of the profession. The Mentor Program also gives these recent graduates the opportunity to develop leadership and mentoring skills which can stand them in good stead as they develop their own careers,” Dr Pratt said.
Professor Doug Hodgson, Dean of the School of Law, Fremantle, said the School was very proud of its Mentor Program.
“We have received very positive feedback from our students who have had mentors to date. We look forward to offering the program to more students in the future,” Professor Hodgson said.