This e-Bulletin outlines the reasons for which lawyers should consider participating in mentorship, the ways in which lawyers can achieve more effective mentoring practices and the related supports available to lawyers through the Law Society of Upper Canada.
Why should a lawyer consider being involved in mentorship?
Mentorship has a long and rich history in the legal profession. Historically, mentoring involved a more junior practitioner working with a more senior practitioner. In this arrangement, the junior lawyer might observe the mentor in their day-to-day practice, as the senior lawyer addressed substantive and procedural tasks, ethical obligations, client or professional relations and general practice management requirements.
Today, mentoring need not follow this traditional model, but it remains a vital means of conveying legal know-how across the legal and paralegal professions. Effective mentoring helps lawyers and paralegals
- Implement strong practice management systems
- Identify strategies to avoid claims and complaints
- Increase their relational, procedural and substantive competence
- Enjoy collegiality and find their work rewarding
Such mentorship is a key component to improving and enhancing lawyers’ professional competence.
How can a lawyer develop more effective mentorship practices?
To be effective, mentoring should be rooted in an understanding of how adult professionals learn best. In general, adult professionals are motivated and self-directed individuals. Research has shown that the following application of adult education learning principles results in more effective mentorship:
- Mentees should apply their own knowledge and experiences to the learning process
- Mentoring should be linked to the Mentee’s personal and professional goals
- Mentoring should involve practical, hands-on learning and experiences
- Mentoring should allow the Mentee to take active “ownership” of the learning process
In a mentoring relationship, a Mentor may consider using the following strategies to improve effectiveness:
- Tailor the mentorship to the Mentee’s background, strengths and interests
- Be practical
- Be thought-provoking
- Chunk information and tasks into smaller, manageable bits of information
- Ramp up the Mentee’s responsibility through learning-by-doing
Where can lawyers find out more about mentorship opportunities or other Law Society supports to enhance their professional competence?
Often, lawyers and paralegals are fortunate to find effective mentors through their employers, professional associations and networks, or personal connections. Traditional mentorship may not be available to some licensees or, alternatively, may not fit the particular needs of a situation. To assist lawyers and paralegals with enhancing their professional competence, the Law Society launched the Coach and Advisor Network (“CAN”) in November 2016.
In line with best practices in adult education, CAN’s approach is goal-oriented, issue-based and short-term:
- CAN Advisors assist with one-off inquiries to support the completion of file work.
- CAN Coaches provide guidance on goals defined and set by Participants through a series of six short sessions over three months.
- CAN provides training, resources and templates to support and to enrich the experience of each CAN Engagement.
For more information, please visit: www.lsuc.on.ca/coachandadvisor/
Short-term, issue-based support is also provided by the Law Society’s Practice Management Helpline. The Helpline answers questions from lawyers and paralegals about the Rules of Professional Conduct, the Paralegal Rules of Conduct, and other practice management topics, including client identification and verification obligations of By-Law 7.1 as well as the trust accounts and record-keeping requirements of By-Law 9 made under the Law Society Act. The Helpline can be reached by calling the Law Society at 416-947-3315 or toll free 1-800-668-7380 extension 3315, Monday to Friday 9:00 am-5:00 pm EST, and asking to be connected to the Helpline.
Join the Dialogue on Licensing
The Law Society has embarked on a province-wide discussion that will inform the development of an appropriate, sustainable licensing system for lawyers. This spring, a series of facilitated in-person and webcast discussions about the realities, challenges and opportunities of lawyer licensing are being held across the province.
Remaining Discussion Groups for Topic 1: The Need For Change
- Ottawa on April 27 at 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Discussion Group Schedule for Topic 2: Market Dynamics and the Lawyer Profession
- Toronto on May 23 at 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
- Ottawa on May 25 at 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
- Thunder Bay on May 30 at 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
- Windsor on June 1 at 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
For more information and to register to participate in a discussion group near you, visit: lsucdialogue.ca
Annual General Meeting to take place May 10
The Law Society’s 2017 Annual General Meeting will take place on Wednesday, May 10 at 5:15 p.m., at Osgoode Hall, 130 Queen St. W., Toronto. See Annual General Meeting Motion.
April 27 - Convocation - check this month's web page for the link to online viewing of Convocation and the archived webcast.
April 30 - LAWPRO 2017 Real Estate and Civil Litigation Levy Surcharge annual exemption form due.
April 30 - LAWPRO 2017 First Quarter Real Estate and Civil Litigation Levy Surcharge filings and applicable payments due.
May 10 - Law Society Annual General Meeting and Reception
May 25 - Convocation - check this month's web page for the link to online viewing of Convocation and the archived webcast.
May 30 - Final date to file the 2016 Lawyer Annual Report, Paralegal Annual Report, Class L2 Licence Annual Report and Class L3 Licence Annual Report. Failure to file by this date will result in a $100 late fee on or about this date and referral for suspension.
May 31 - Final date to file the 2016 Multi-Discipline Partnership Report. Failure to file by this date may result in referral for suspension on or about this date.
May 31 - Final date to file the 2016 Affiliation Report. Failure to file by this date may result in referral for suspension on or about this date.