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James, Nicholas --- "Professional Mentoring Programs for Law Students" [2011] UTasLawRw 4; (2011) 30(1) University of Tasmania Law Review 90

Professional Mentoring Programs for Law Students



Many universities administer programs that match students with mentors who assist the students with their academic journey. Relatively little, however, has been written about the design and administration of mentoring programs specifically for law students. Do law students have mentoring needs that differ from those of students in other disciplines? What are the benefits associated with using professionals rather than peers as mentors? How do mentoring programs benefit both law students and their mentors? What are the features of a successful program? These and other such issues are examined in this article in the context of the design, administration and evaluation of the successful law student mentoring program at the University of Queensland.


Michelle and Joel attended the School of Law at the University of Queensland (UQ) in the 1980s.[1] Michelle was admitted to law school with an exceptional tertiary entrance score. She had attended a private secondary school in Brisbane, and decided to attend UQ while continuing to live with her family. Her father and her maternal grandfather were legal practitioners, and Michelle had known from a relatively early age that she wanted to follow in their footsteps. Prior to commencing her legal education she had long conversations with both relatives about what it would be like to study law at university, and during her studies she frequently turned to them for assistance with her studies and insight into the practical operation of law. As she approached the end of her degree, Michelle had opportunities to meet with and seek guidance from various legal practitioners in a range of positions, and when the time came for her to decide upon a career following graduation she confidently chose to practise private law with one of the large law firms in the city. By the time she started work at the law firm she had already met some of the partners, and she adjusted to her new workplace relatively quickly. She chose to specialise in property and securities law, and continued to seek guidance and advice from her father and grandfather. She worked extremely hard as a junior lawyer, and was rewarded with recognition and promotion. Michelle now works in Sydney as a partner with one of Australia’s largest law firms, and describes herself as very satisfied with her career choices.

Joel was also admitted to law school with an exceptional tertiary entrance score. Joel had attended a public secondary school in a regional centre, and lived at a university college while studying at UQ. Unlike Michelle, Joel did not know any lawyers: he was the first in his family to study law, none of his close relatives were lawyers, and none of his friends were lawyers.[2] During his time at law school Joel frequently felt anxious and uncertain about the looming transition from university to professional practice. He did not feel that he could share his concerns with his lecturers and tutors, who he saw as unapproachable and uninterested in his personal problems, or with his fellow law students, who he saw as competitors rather than colleagues. Joel felt unsure about his future, unclear about what areas of legal practice interested him, and uncertain about whether or not he wanted to practise law at all.

As he approached the completion of his studies, Joel applied to a haphazard range of law firms, almost completely ignorant of the differences between small firms, medium-sized firms and large firms. Eventually he was accepted by a medium-sized law firm based in the city. He started work knowing next to nothing about the law firm and the type of work he was likely to be given, about legal practice generally, or about what to expect from his employers, colleagues and clients. He completed his articles of clerkship in the requisite two years and found himself working as a first year solicitor in the area of commercial and property law. He was very unhappy. He disliked the competitive and confrontational nature of legal practice, and suffered from acute anxiety. At work, Joel felt stressed, overworked, undervalued and unappreciated, and after hours he drank heavily to deal with his anxiety and unhappiness. After eighteen months, Joel made the decision to resign from his position, and since then he has not practised law. He has no regrets about abandoning the practice of law, but he does regret wasting so many years of his life feeling uncertain and anxious before making that decision. He says that if he had known more about what to expect from legal practice, and more about the possible career paths open to a law school graduate, he might still be practising law today, albeit in a position better suited to his preferences and temperament.[3]

One of the reasons why Michelle’s journey through law school and transition to professional practice was so much smoother than Joel’s was because Michelle had personal connections with the profession that Joel did not. There are of course other reasons: Michelle’s self-confidence and temperament were better suited to the practice of law and Michelle’s residing with her parents during law school relieved Michelle of many of the pressures faced by those who live away from their families. The fact that Michelle’s family was wealthy and resided in Brisbane meant that Michelle had already interacted socially with the types of people who would later be her employers. Nevertheless one cannot help but wonder whether Joel’s experiences would have been less frustrating and confusing if he had had access during his legal studies to a legal professional who could have provided Joel with insights into legal practice and appropriate guidance when making crucial career choices.

It appears that many law school graduates, like Joel, find themselves after graduation in a career that they find to be upsetting and difficult rather than fulfilling, satisfying and rewarding.[4] Numerous studies in the US and Australia have revealed that lawyers experience higher rates of depression and mental illness than most other professions,[5] and that:

[t]hese symptoms are directly traceable to law study and practice. They are not exhibited when the lawyers enter law school, but emerge shortly thereafter and remain, without significant abatement, well after graduation from law school.[6]

The 2009 Brain and Mind Institute study ‘Courting the Blues: Attitudes Towards Depression in Australian Law Students and Lawyers’ concluded that Australian law students and legal practitioners experience higher than normal levels of psychological distress and risk of depression.[7] The study also insisted that law schools have an obligation to assume some responsibility for addressing this problem, including establishing appropriate support mechanisms for law students:

It has been suggested that law education is far more competitive than other forms of tertiary education. Clearly, such competition might work to reduce the level of support that sub-groups of students give each other. Accordingly, competitive elements of the educational setting need to be publically acknowledged and support mechanisms made available for students.[8]

This article is concerned with one possible form of support mechanism for law students: a mentoring program that matches law students with legal professionals who are available to support the students in their journey through law school and their transition to professional practice. In 2006 the School of Law at UQ made the decision to work with the UQ Law Graduates Association to establish such a mentoring program, and the UQ Law Mentor Program (the Program) was launched in 2007. The Program has been a success in terms of both participation rates and participant satisfaction.

In the four years that it has been operational, more than 500 law students have benefitted from participating in the Program. Between 120 and 150 students have enrolled in the Program each year, equating to almost 10 per cent of a total cohort across all years of the LLB — approximately 1500 students.[9] Approximately 100 local, interstate and international solicitors, barristers, judges, judge’s associates, registrars and academics have registered as mentors. Most of these mentors remain registered with the Program from year to year, and many of the mentors choose to mentor multiple students.

Each year the participants in the Program are asked to complete an online survey about their experience in the Program. In 2008, 83 per cent of the mentors and 70 per cent of the students who responded to the survey indicated that that ‘the personal benefits flowing to [them] from the program were worth the time and energy involved in participating’. In 2009 the percentages were 92 per cent and 79 per cent respectively.[10] Comments from the mentors included the following:

I think that the mentorship program is an incredible initiative and I believe that it should be continued in the future.

Keep up the good work! I think the mentoring programme is an excellent opportunity for undergraduates. I wish it had been available when I was studying. I have enjoyed my participation and I look forward to taking part this year.

Comments from the students included:

I think this is a great program and it was very beneficial to me. It is a great way for students to get an idea about the legal profession, and the help that the mentors can provide is extremely valuable.

My mentor was fantastic.

This article is a description of and reflection upon the process of developing, administering and evaluating a successful law student mentoring program. The first part of the article examines the benefits to students, to mentors and to the law school of establishing a professional mentoring program specifically for law students. The second part of the article draws upon the experiences of the School of Law at UQ and sets out ten recommendations for setting up a successful professional mentoring program.


Many universities administer general programs that match students from all disciplines with mentors (usually peers) who assist the students with their academic journey or the transition to professional practice.[11] Why should a law school choose to establish a professional mentoring program tailored specifically for law students rather than rely upon a general program offered by the university as a whole?

One reason is that law students have particular characteristics and needs that are likely to be disregarded or unmet within a more general peer mentoring program. According to a recent study by Tani and Vines, law students in general differ from other types of student in that they are (inter alia) less likely to find their studies intrinsically interesting; more likely to be doing their course for reasons external to themselves, eg because their parents want them to; more likely to see employers as interested in their marks and not in their values and abilities; more likely to see their friendships in terms of networks that will advance their career; less likely to state that they are at university to learn; and more likely to see their marks as the most important motivator and indicator of their success.[12] If law students are less likely to find the law interesting, then they need a mentor capable of stimulating that interest; if they frequently misconstrue the attributes of a successful graduate, then they will benefit from insight from mentors who are legal practitioners and employers; if law students are more likely to see their peers as competitors, then they need additional sources of sympathetic external support; and if they are driven by academic performance rather than intrinsic motivation or a desire to learn, then they need a mentor who understands law school assessment when their grades are lower than they hope or expect. A school-based and discipline-specific professional mentoring program is better able to meet these needs.

There are other reasons why a law school may prefer to administer its own mentoring program. By taking ‘ownership’ of the program, the law students, the mentors and the law school itself are more likely to devote time, energy and resources to ensuring the success of the program. And as described below, a school-based professional mentoring program creates opportunities for the law school to improve the quality of its alumni relations and its standing amongst the legal profession and within the community.

A Benefits for Law Students

Many law students experience uncertainty about the practical implications of their legal studies and anxiety about the transition to professional practice, particular those students who do not have any friends or family members who are lawyers. For example, according to one student who recently applied to join the Program:

I would love a mentor because at present, I have no other contacts in any law field. I really have no one to turn to for advice on what to study and where to focus my energy or even someone to look up to. I am very interested in law, but without someone to help me out who knows exactly what they are talking about, I find myself quite lost.

The abnormally high incidence of depression and mental illness amongst legal practitioners and law students has already been noted. Researchers have claimed that the peculiar characteristics of legal education contribute to this phenomenon.[13] Some point to the excessive workloads, the isolationist nature of legal study (there is within legal education a much greater emphasis upon individual performance than upon group work), and the emphasis upon linear thinking (formalistic reasoning according to fixed rules and processes) over creative thinking (less structured reasoning draw upon a wide range of inputs and insights including the student’s own opinions and perspectives).[14] Others point to the competitive nature of law school,[15] to the lack of interaction and support due to large class sizes and high student-staff ratios,[16] or to the dominance of traditional teaching methods.[17] Whatever the cause — or, more likely, combination of causes — law schools are under increasing pressure to pay more attention to the wellbeing of their students, and establishing a mentoring program is one way to ensure that students are provided with an additional source of support. A mentoring program is a particularly useful support mechanism given the finding in the ‘Courting the Blues’ report that law students are less likely than other students and members of the Australian community to acknowledge that they have a problem and seek advice or counselling.[18] Voluntarily participating in a mentoring program is a way for law students to seek support without having to acknowledge that they suffer from any particular problem or illness.

In addition to facilitating this support, a successful professional mentoring program has the potential to improve the quality of the students’ overall educational experience by providing the students with a number of important benefits.

Insight into the law and its operation in practice: Law is typically taught in a very abstract manner in law school. Law courses often focus upon analytical reasoning, moral neutrality and depersonalised legal problems, and law students can easily lose sight of the relationship between law and real life. A professional mentor is a source of knowledge and experience upon which students can draw when struggling to understand the law and its operation in practice.

Support and guidance when making study and career choices: A professional mentor can provide the students with support and motivation, help the students to set goals and make plans, and provide them with feedback on their progress through law school.[19] The mentors have already successfully navigated their way through law school and they are therefore able to relate to many of the difficulties faced by the students. They are able to assist the students when making decisions about what courses to study, in what areas of law to specialise, and whether or not to practise law at all upon graduation. They can offer an ‘informed outsider’s’ perspective upon the students’ progress through law school and the career possibilities available to them when they graduate.[20] A mentor is also someone with whom the students can safely share their insecurities and explore their weaknesses.[21] As one of the students participating in the UQ Law Mentor Program explained:

I have been rather shocked to realise that I am entering that infamous ‘penultimate year’ of a law degree. I know I need to start making decisions about my future but I feel completely overwhelmed by the many different paths that I can take. I have considered legal academia, going to the bar and working in a community law firm but remain undecided. I would like someone to talk me through some of these options.

A role model: A professional mentor can be a role model for the students. Not only have the mentors already walked at least part way down the career path the students might hope to themselves one day follow, the mentors have developed and are able to demonstrate some or all of the intellectual and personal traits the students will need to themselves develop in order to be successful lawyers. According to one student in the UQ Law Mentor Program:

Whilst the study of law through university provides me with a depth of knowledge about my chosen profession, the presence of a mentor provides me with foresight about how I might apply this knowledge, and indeed, that it will be worth it! This ‘connection with the real world’ serves as a motive for me to put my head down for the next few years, because observing someone performing the job that I aspire to have acts as the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ — so to speak.

An opportunity to discuss discipline knowledge: Participation in a professional mentoring program offers the students the opportunity to discuss with another person what the students are learning about in law school. Of course, students also have opportunities to discuss this discipline knowledge in class or with family members or friends, but having a mentor gives the students the chance to share and examine their new knowledge with someone who understands and appreciates that knowledge who is not seen as a competitor, and in a non-assessed, and consequently less threatening, environment.[22]

Professional networking opportunities: The professional mentors are able to smooth the law students’ transition into the workplace by not only sharing with the students their insights into the realities of legal practice but also by providing networking opportunities for the students.[23] According to one student in the Program:

My goals upon completion of my law degree involve practicing, and with little to no contacts in the industry I feel this is a program which could really help my opportunity prospects.

Networking is particularly important for law students: the fact that law students demonstrate lower than usual levels of social connectedness has been identified as a contributing factor to the higher than average rates of depression and mental illness among law students.[24]

B Benefits for Mentors

A successful mentoring program offers benefits not only to the students but also to the mentors.[25]

Personal satisfaction: One of the most frequently identified benefits is a personal one: the mentors derive personal satisfaction and self-esteem as a consequence of helping another person. According to one mentor in the Program (a barrister):

I consider it both a privilege and a duty to assist my former University and its current students in relation to professional and academic development.

Opportunities for reflection: When guiding and advising the students, the mentors typically draw upon their own experiences as law students and legal practitioners. Participation in a mentoring program therefore provides the mentors with valuable opportunities to reflect upon and discuss their own career choices and career progression.[26]

Learning opportunities: It is not only the case that the students learn from the mentors. Mentoring has the potential to lead to the creation of what has been called a ‘learning alliance’, where both the students and the mentors learn from each other.[27] The students are, for example, learning about the latest developments in law while at law school, and the mentors have the opportunity to hear about these developments.[28]

Professional skills development: Being a mentor can lead to the development of a range of professional skills, including interpersonal communications, counselling, problem solving, leadership, project planning, strategic thinking, creativity, team building, and resourcefulness skills.[29] Another benefit for mentors is the increase in self confidence that results from fulfilling the role of coach and advisor to someone who looks up to them.[30]

C Benefits for the Law School

A law school is unlikely to commence and continue to administer its own mentoring program unless there are demonstrable benefits — both direct and indirect — accruing to the school itself.

Profile building: Mentors will talk about a successful mentoring program with their colleagues, and students will talk about a successful mentoring program with their peers, friends and family. Both will improve the standing of the law school within the profession and within the community. A successful mentoring program will also be a source of ‘human interest’ stories that can be promoted by the school in order to increase and improve its media presence.[31]

Alumni relations: By inviting and encouraging its alumni to become mentors in the program, the law school will maintain and enhance its relationship with its former students.

Student satisfaction: A successful mentoring program is likely to improve overall student satisfaction with their law school experience. At UQ, for example, the Course Experience Questionnaire (CEQ) results for ‘overall satisfaction’ by LLB students graduating from the law school increased from 85 per cent in 2006 (the year prior to the introduction of the Program) to 93 per cent in 2008 (the year after the introduction of the Program), and while this increase is certainly not solely attributable to the introduction of the Program the positive feedback from students enrolled in the Program does strongly suggest that it was at least a contributing factor.[32]

Compliance with duty of care to students: It is increasingly recognised that the legal and ethical responsibilities of the law school extend beyond simply providing an education in the law to at least monitoring if not promoting the overall wellbeing of law students.[33] A successful mentoring program is one that is readily available to students struggling to cope with the pressures of law school, and thus adds another component to the school’s efforts to comply with its duty of care, along with the provision of student counselling services and the personal efforts of teaching staff.


A successful professional mentoring program for law students clearly has substantial benefits for the students and mentors participating in the program as well as for the law school itself. How, then, should such a program be designed, administered and evaluated? In this second half of the article the experience of the School of Law at UQ in establishing the UQ Law Mentor Program is drawn upon in proposing ten practical recommendations relating to setting up a successful professional mentoring program for law students. The first three recommendations relate to the design of the program: establishing clear and achievable objectives, selecting the right type of program, and embracing information and communication technologies. The next five recommendations relate to the administration of the program: marketing the program to mentors and students, choosing the mentors carefully, establishing clear mutual expectations, maximising student autonomy, and administering the program proactively. The last two recommendations relate to evaluation of the program: surveying the participants regularly, and thanking the participants personally.

A Establish Clear and Achievable Objectives

The first recommendation in designing a successful law student mentoring program is that the law school take the time to establish clear and achievable objectives at the commencement of the design process.[34] In establishing these objectives the law school should seek to answer some key questions: What is it that the program is seeking to achieve? Is it to assist new law students adjust to law school? Is it to help disadvantaged law students to better cope with the pressures of legal education? Is it to help later year law students make the transition to legal practice? Is it to encourage graduates to maintain their relationship with the school? Is it a combination of these objectives? Once these objectives are established, they should inform the program design and be prominently displayed on the program materials. The objectives will also inform any evaluation of the program, as described in more detail below.

B Select the Right Type of Program

The overall objectives of the mentoring program will inform the law school’s decision about what type of program to establish. Broadly speaking, there are two ways of categorising university mentoring programs: according to the type of mentor and according to the accessibility of the program. This results in four broad types of mentoring program: see Table 1.

All students
Open peer
Open professional
Targeted groups
Targeted peer
Targeted professional

Table 1 - Types of program

Open peer programs engage experienced students —usually in the later years of their program — as mentors, and are accessible by all new students at the institution, either from a particular program or generally. The experienced students help the new students with integration into the university community and into their programs of study.[35] For example, the Australian National University’s mentoring program matches first year students with later year students,[36] as do Macquarie University’s Mentors @ Macquarie program,[37] the University of Central Queensland’s Student Mentor and Leadership Program,[38] the University of Newcastle’s SOS Mentor Program,[39] the University of New South Wales’ Peer Mentor and Support Program,[40] the University of the Sunshine Coast’s Student Mentor Program,[41] and the University of Western Australia’s Uni Mentor program.[42] The University of New South Wales’ Law School Peer Mentor Program[43] is one of the few mentoring programs specifically for law students, and matches first year law students with later year law students. Similarly, the Peer Mentoring Program administered by the Faculty of Economics and Business at Sydney University matches first year business and economics students with later year students.[44]

Open professional programs engage practitioners, professionals and/or alumni as mentors, and are accessible by most or all students at the institution. Charles Darwin University’s mentoring program matches students at all levels with alumni mentors,[45] as do Flinders University’s Workplace Mentoring Program,[46] Macquarie University’s Macquarie Ambassadors program,[47] and Murdoch University’s Alumni Career Mentoring Program.[48] Griffith University’s Industry Mentoring Program,[49] the University of Melbourne’s Career Mentor Connection,[50] the University of Southern Queensland’s mentoring program,[51] the University of Western Australia’s Career Mentor Link program,[52] and Victoria University’s Career Bridge program[53] match students at all levels with industry mentors. The UQ Law Mentor Program[54] administered by the Law School at the University of Queensland matches law students with industry mentors.

Targeted peer programs engage students — usually in the later years of their program — as mentors, and are accessible by targeted groups of students such as female students or students from non-English speaking backgrounds. Griffith University’s Uni-Key Peer Mentor Program, for example, matches students from equity groups with student mentors paid to run small tutorial groups.[55]

Targeted professional programs engage practitioners, professionals and/or alumni as mentors, and are accessible by targeted groups of students. The Lucy Mentoring Program at Sydney University,[56] the University of Newcastle,[57] and the University of New South Wales,[58] for example, matches female business and economics students with industry mentors. The Willing and Able Mentoring Program is an industry mentoring program for disabled tertiary students, and is not linked to a specific university.[59]

The decision whether to establish an open program or a targeted program is an important one. There are good reasons for establishing a program that targets disadvantaged students. There is evidence that informal mentoring relationships — that is, those that develop naturally as the result of the student’s own relationships rather than by way of a formal matching program — are more effective that formal mentoring relationships.[60] However, there is also evidence that informal mentoring favours ‘dominant protégés’.[61] In other words, it is only the ‘traditional’ law students — white, middle class, and frequently male — who are likely to find their own mentors. Formal mentoring programs therefore provide women,[62] people from non-English speaking backgrounds,[63] and other disadvantaged and non-traditional law students with the opportunity to be mentored, an opportunity they may not otherwise have. If the resources available to the school are limited, a smaller program targeting disadvantaged students may be more appropriate.

Of course, an open program can still benefit disadvantaged students. According to two students in the UQ Law Mentor Program (an open professional program):

Since I was 10 years old, I’ve wanted to become a lawyer. I would watch movies and dream of the day I have the chance to study abroad and make something of myself. I look up to the profession, lifestyle and personality of a law school graduate. I am from Zimbabwe and there are no opportunities for students to follow their passion there. I am lucky enough to have this chance, and I am hoping to become the best lawyer I can be. I know this program will help me achieve my goal.

Engaging with a mentor regularly will assist with my direction, networking capacity and engagement by the Law fraternity as quickly as possible (as I am acutely aware of my age being 44!).

Whether the mentoring program uses peers or professionals as mentors will depend upon the objectives of the program as well as other considerations. Each type of mentoring program has its advantages and disadvantages for the law school and for the participating students. The advantages of using peers as mentors include the following:

• Peer mentors are more accessible in the sense that there many ways in which the program can be promoted by the law school to potential mentors, including bulk emails, posters on campus, course websites and student magazines.

• Law students tend to have more spare time than legal professionals and are therefore more likely to be willing to become mentors.

• Peer mentors are often high performing students and therefore better able to assist their protégés with improving their study practices and developing helpful attitudes to learning.

• Peer mentors are more likely to be competent in the use of cotemporary learning tools such as online technologies.[64]

• Peer mentors are at the same institution and frequently enrolled in the same program as their protégés, and are therefore better able to relate to the problems and issues faced by their protégés.[65]

However, the use of peer mentors also has a number of disadvantages:

• In the absence of effective quality control measures there is a danger that peer mentors will pass onto their protégés poor study practices and unhelpful attitudes.

• Peer mentors are likely to be distracted by their own studies at the times when their protégés are likely to need their assistance, ie exam periods.

• Peer mentors are less likely to be able to assist their protégés with problems associated with career uncertainty and the transition to professional practice.

• Peer mentors are unlikely to have any greater insight into the practical relevance of discipline knowledge or better access to professional networking opportunities than their protégés.

In this article the emphasis is upon the establishment of a professional rather than a peer mentoring program. The professional mentor is more consistent with the traditional notion of the mentor as the older and wiser guardian or teacher.[66] The advantages of using legal professionals as mentors also include the following:

• The participation by legal professionals in the mentoring program contributes to profile building by the law school, and if the professionals are also alumni of the law school their participation enhances the quality of alumni relations.

• Legal professionals have already graduated and are therefore likely to have developed successful approaches to study.

• Legal professionals are less likely to be studying and are therefore more likely to be available during exam periods.

• Legal professionals are better able to assist their protégés with problems associated with career uncertainty and the transition to professional practice.

• Legal professionals are able to offer insight into the practical relevance of discipline knowledge and access to professional networking opportunities.

One of the most significant disadvantages of using legal professionals as mentors is the possibility that the law school will have to expend resources in promoting the program beyond the university in order to attract mentors to the program. This concern is addressed below.

At UQ, the mentoring program was initiated primarily as an alumni relations exercise, and the decision was therefore made to use professionals rather than peers as mentors. The objective of the program later shifted towards a more student focussed one, with particular emphasis upon supporting the transition to professional practice, and the decision to use professional mentors was vindicated. The intent was always to establish a larger, general program rather than a smaller, targeted one. For other law schools, whether the mentoring program is available to all law students, first year law students or select groups of disadvantaged students will depend upon the overall objectives of the program, as well as the resources available to the law school to support the program.[67]

C Use Technology Wisely

In designing the mentoring program the school should consider the benefits of setting up a program website and administering the program online. The strategic use of information and communication technologies can contribute to the success of the mentoring program in three ways: by facilitating the registration of mentors and students, by facilitating the matching of mentors and students, and by providing a means by which mentors and students can interact.

1 Registration

An effective mentoring program website can minimise the resource implications of the program for the law school by reducing the direct involvement of school staff in the more mundane aspects of the registration process. At UQ, legal professionals interested in participating in the program as mentors are directed by the program promotional materials to a website where they can read about the program and register their interest. They are provided with a ‘Mentor Guide’ which tells them what to expect from the program. If the legal professional chooses to proceed, they are asked to enter certain details on the website: their name and contact details, employment details, year of graduation, year of admission, qualifications, gender, the number of students they are willing to mentor, their reasons for wanting to be a mentor, and their areas of current specialisation or practice. Once these details are submitted, they are automatically sent an email thanking them for their registration as a participant. An email is also sent automatically to the program coordinator setting out the legal professional’s details as entered. The coordinator checks these details and, if necessary, contacts the legal professional personally to confirm that they are correct. Once satisfied that the legal professional is qualified to act as a mentor, the coordinator checks a box on the program website, the legal professional is registered as a mentor, and their details become accessible by students.

Students are also directed to the program website. There they can access a copy of the ‘Student Guide’, which contains information similar to that set out in the Mentor Guide. After confirming their identity by entering their student number and password, the student can register as a participant in the program and access the details of the available — ie unmatched — mentors.

2 Matching

An effective program website can also minimise the direct involvement of the law school in the matching process. At UQ, once the student has registered as a participant in the program via the website, they are presented with the details of the available mentors. These details include the gender, graduation year, admission year, employer, areas of practice or specialisation, and reasons provided by the mentor for wanting to be a mentor.[68] If the student decides that they wish to be matched with one of the available mentors, they select that mentor by clicking on their name. Emails are automatically sent to both the mentor and the student, and the mentor’s details are no longer accessible by other students.[69] The email sent to the mentor sets out the student’s name, contact details, areas of interest and reasons for wanting a mentor, as well as instructions regarding the first meeting of mentor and student. It also explains to the mentor the type of guidance they are expected to provide, what they can expect from the student, and recommendations about frequency and types of meetings. A similar email is automatically sent to the student, and the participants are left to negotiate the terms of their new relationship.

3 Interaction

The third way in which information and communication technologies can enhance the effectiveness of a mentoring program is by providing the participants with a means to interact. This is particularly important when the participants are separate geographically. At UQ, for example, most of the mentors are located in Brisbane but there are also mentors located on the Gold Coast and in Melbourne, Canberra, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong and Dubai. Even when the participants are located in the same city (or at the same institution in the case of peer mentors) the participants often prefer to interact by email.[70] Mentors and students do not have to interact personally in order to create a meaningful relationship.[71] In fact, online mentoring has some important advantages over face-to-face mentoring:[72] it has been shown to enhance levels of participation in a mentoring program;[73] it ‘facilitates the development of mentoring relationships by allowing for the attenuation of status differences and the ease of thoughtful sharing’;[74] it gives the participants time to reflect between asking a question and providing an answer; and it ‘conceals social cues that otherwise hinder communication between higher status and lower status individuals’ and thus has the potential to benefit disadvantaged students.[75]

D Market the Program Widely

The law school must be prepared to devote the necessary time and resources to effectively promote the mentoring program to mentors and students.

The success of the UQ Law Mentor Program is partly attributable to the extensive marketing of the program. The involvement of the UQ Law Graduates Association has facilitated the marketing of the program to legal professionals in order to attract them as mentors. The President of the Association regularly speaks about the Program at Association events and encourages members of the Association to register as Mentors. The Law School has prepared a flyer describing the benefits of becoming a mentor, and this flyer is distributed to members and attendees at all Association events. Each year the President of the Association writes to all students graduating from the Law School and personally invites them to join the Association and register as mentors. The School markets the program to potential mentors at School events and on the School website. Postgraduate students attending the welcome reception at the beginning of each semester are encouraged to register as mentors. And the School’s marketing team periodically arranges for stories about the Program to be published in various professional journals as well as the School, Faculty and University newsletters and magazines.

The law students learn about the UQ Law Mentor Program in three ways: by word-of-mouth, from posters promoting the program placed around the School, and from notices posted on law course websites. Any student enrolled in the Bachelor of Laws at UQ is entitled to register as a participant in the Program. However, first year students are unlikely to enrol in the program; it is marketed as a way to ease the transition out of law school and into legal practice, and students in their first year are more concerned with the transition into law school.[76] Nor are final year law students likely to enrol in the program; most have already decided what they are going to do upon graduation from law school, and see little need for mentoring in this regard. The Program is therefore marketed primarily to second and third year law students.

E Choose the Mentors Carefully

According to Parsloe, an effective mentor must be willing and able to guide the student and facilitate their development rather than direct the student or tell them what to do.[77] Fisher insists that the characteristics of a good mentor include intelligence and integrity, ability, a professional attitude, high personal standards, enthusiasm and a willingness to share accumulated knowledge.[78] According to Husband and Jacobs, a good mentor is able to provide good social support, and demonstrates self-awareness, commitment, flexibility, patience and self-confidence.[79] Ramani et al posit that a good mentor demonstrates empathy, tolerance, cultural sensitivity, and good communication skills.[80]

Not everyone has the disposition and ability to be an effective mentor. A successful — and responsible — mentoring program will have documented criteria clearly defining eligibility for participation in the program.[81] The law school must decide whether the criteria will be broadly or precisely worded, and how strictly the criteria will be enforced. Will the emphasis be upon enlisting as many mentors as possible? If so, the criteria should be broadly worded and less rigidly enforced. Or will the emphasis be upon enlisting a smaller number of high quality mentors? If so, the criteria should be precisely worded and more strictly enforced. The criteria for eligibility as a mentor will also depend upon the types of mentors being recruited, and whether the program is an open one or a targeted one. If the mentors are students, the criteria for eligibility might be no more than having passed the lower level courses, or they might include the achievement of a particular grade point average. They may even include the demonstration of some or all of the particular personal qualities identified above. If the mentors are graduates and professionals the criteria for eligibility might simply be a law degree, or they might include admission as a legal practitioner, a certain level of practical experience, or (again) the demonstration of particular personal qualities. If the mentoring program is targeting students from disadvantaged backgrounds the criteria for eligibility as a mentor might include having a similar background, or specialised training in counselling.

In any event, some form of applicant screening process is essential.[82] At UQ, the criteria for eligibility as a mentor were initially kept simple in order to attract as many mentors as possible: the mentors simply had to have completed law school. Now that the program has a significant number of mentors registered, and in response to a small number of complaints by students about the accessibility and commitment of particular mentors, all new mentors are required upon registration to include a brief explanation of their reasons for wanting to be a mentor and what they hope to achieve as a mentor. In 2011 the registration process will be made even more rigorous by including personal interviews with all potential mentors to ascertain their eligibility. The school after all owes a duty of care to the students participating in the program,[83] and may even be held liable for any harm caused by an inappropriate mentor.[84]

F Establish Clear Mutual Expectations

In order to establish a successful mentor-student relationship, it is important that both parties understand and appreciate the roles that they will be expected to play.[85] It is frequently the case that neither the mentor nor the student have had experience with a formal mentoring program, and are likely to be uncertain about what the mentoring process actually involves. The school must consider the extent and the nature of the guidance to be provided to the participants to assist them in clarifying their mutual expectations. One possibility is for the school to provide a written role statement or a list of reasonable and standardised expectations to both participants as part of the registration and matching process.[86] Matters that might be included in such a list include expectations about the types of guidance to be provided and about mutual respect, as well as identification of the types of issues that are outside of the mentor-student relationship.[87]

The guidelines should not be too prescriptive. The mentor and the student should, as far as possible, be permitted to negotiate for themselves the nature of their relationship and the frequency of their interactions: each participant in the program will have different expectations, different needs, and different work, family and educational commitments and responsibilities.[88] The mentor and the student should decide for themselves how often they will meet, and how they will meet.[89] They should also decide for themselves the overall nature of the relationship, that is, whether the mentor is to be a role model and someone the student should aspire to emulate or a disciplinary colleague who will share with the student their insights, experiences and professional connections.[90] Every mentoring relationship is unique, and its particular nature will be largely determined by the personalities and circumstances of the two participants.

G Maximise Student Autonomy

In order to fully engage with the mentoring program the student must feel a sense of ownership and control over the nature and extent of their participation in the program. It is therefore recommended that the program be designed in such a way that the student is permitted to make, or at least contribute to, key decisions during the process. Students should, for example, be permitted to actively participate in the selection process.[91] At UQ, the student is able to select his or her own mentor from those that are available. Students are also be encouraged to take responsibility for negotiating the terms and establishing the details of the relationship with their mentor.

This recommendation is of particular importance to law students. Law students generally have a lower level of personal autonomy than other students: recall the finding referred to earlier that law students are more likely than other students to be enrolled in their degree because of external factors such as parental pressure rather than personal choice. Law students tend to enrol in and continue their studies for the benefit of others — family members, potential employers — rather than for their own personal satisfaction, and to be motivated by extrinsic factors such as the achievement of high grades rather than intrinsic factors such as a personal desire to know and understand the law.[92] This sense of lack of control over their own circumstances has been identified as a possible contributing factor to the higher than average rates of depression and mental illness amongst law students.[93] Permitting law students to make important decisions about their participation in the program — such as the identity of their mentor — can make at least a small contribution to giving the student a greater sense of control over their studies and their journey through law school. And even the decision to participate in the program itself and develop a relationship with a mentor can be seen by some law students as an opportunity to enhance their personal autonomy. Consider the following reason given by one student for wanting to participate in the UQ Law Mentor Program:

Guidance and insight into various areas of law would help me decide on a career path to choose and more actively engage in an area of law I am interested in. I would like to take control of my career path and make conscious decisions regarding my placement in the profession, rather than leaving it to fate. (Emphasis added.)

H Administer the Program Proactively

At UQ the daily functioning of the mentoring program relies primarily upon the initiative of the participants. The matching process is largely automated. This automation does not, however, obviate the need for the law school to proactively administer the program. The program administrators have important ongoing obligations beyond attracting mentors and students to the program. They respond to questions from participants about expectations and obligations, and resolve disputes between the participants. The participants must be provided with a way to communicate their concerns about the program,[94] and the school must allocate the resources necessary to ensure that the participants are responded to promptly and appropriately.[95]

The administration of the program must be proactive and not merely reactive. An unhappy participant may not bother contacting the school to express a concern, instead simply withdrawing from the program, and possibly complaining about the program to others. The school must reach out to the participants on a regular basis. This can be by email or personal phone call, or by holding social events at which the participants can express their concerns.

At UQ the program administrator periodically contacts the participants seeking to assist students who have not heard from their mentors and mentors who have not heard from their students; identify students who are dissatisfied with their mentors and mentors who have concerns about their students; and encourage feedback from students and mentors about the program. It is also made clear to the participants that although they are expected to work out for themselves how the mentoring relationship will operate, they can at any time seek guidance and assistance from the School.

I Evaluate the Program Regularly

The mentoring program will involve numerous students and stakeholders of the law school, and the experience of the participants in the program is likely to have a significant impact upon the standing and reputation of the law school amongst those students and stakeholders. Quality control is therefore important.

An essential element in monitoring and maintaining the quality of the mentoring program is regular evaluation of the program.[96] What is working well and what is not? What needs to change? How can the program be improved to better meet the needs and expectations of participants? How much is the program costing the law school? Do the outcomes justify the expense of the program? Evaluation of the program can be by way of interviews, surveys and focus groups. The program should be evaluated annually; it might also be appropriate to conduct periodic evaluations of the program during the year so that it can be continuously refined and improved.[97] Any such evaluation should occur against clearly defined criteria, benchmarks or ‘indicators of success’,[98] the most important being achievement of the objectives established when the program was first designed.

At UQ, the mentors and students who participate in the program are periodically contacted and invited to submit feedback to the program administrator. They are also invited to provide feedback by completing an online survey at the end of each year. This feedback is then examined by the program coordinators and, if necessary, appropriate changes are made to the program. For example, the results of the 2009 survey of student participants indicated that 17 per cent of students did not have any contact with their mentor, and that while 79 per cent of students felt that the personal benefits flowing to them from participating in the program were worth the time and energy involved, 21 per cent did not. Concerns and criticisms expressed by the students who completed the survey included the following:

I emailed my mentor, but he said he’d never been assigned a student to mentor. He said we would set up a date to meet. I provided him with my availability and asked when would suit him, but he never got back to me. It would be a good idea if the school had checked up on mentoring relationships from time to time, because clearly mine didn’t work.

This concern was addressed by implementing a process to more frequently contact participants and remind them to contact the school if their mentor or student is not responding to communications and to give them the opportunity to be re-matched.

Another concern related to the matching process:

More details about the mentors when trying to select them would be helpful. Not necessarily their personal details but what areas they are working in now, which firm they are at or other information that might be more useful in helping students select a mentor.

This concern was addressed by including in the information made available to students details of the mentors’ employer and position. Mentors have also been asked to provide more details about their availability and their reasons for wanting to be a mentor, details that can be accessed by the student prior to making a selection.

In the 2009 survey of mentors in the UQ Law Mentor Program, one mentor reported that ‘the student never contacted me which is rude apart from other comments I could make’. Similar concerns expressed by the mentors related to the tendency of some students to neglect to make appropriate use of their mentor. The School of Law responded to these concerns by modifying the matching process. In the past, students were immediately registered as participants upon entering their details, and immediately permitted to select a mentor. The students are now asked to include with their details a brief description of their reasons for seeking a mentor. Their details are then reviewed by the program administrator, who approves their registration as a participant. The administrator has the discretion to reject their application if they form the view that the student is not committed to a mentor relationship. Positive feedback from the mentors in 2010 indicates that this initiative has been largely successful.

J Thank the Participants Personally

The final recommendation in the design, administration and evaluation of a successful law student mentoring program is ensuring that the participants in the program ‑ particularly the mentors ‑ are recognised and thanked for their efforts.[99] Professional mentors are busy people who give freely of their time to participate in the program, and while it is likely that they themselves benefit from their participation (as described earlier), taking the time to acknowledge and thank the mentors will encourage them to promote the program to others and increase the likelihood that they will continue to participate in future.

At UQ, the mentors who participate in the program are sent letters at the end of each year thanking them for their involvement and asking them to provide feedback, to update their details online, and to remain registered for the following year. Each year the students who have participated in the program are invited to nominate their mentor as the ‘Mentor of the Year’, and a modest prize is awarded to the winner at a reception hosted by the Law School to which all mentors and their students are invited. The event is also an opportunity to remind mentors to encourage their colleagues to participate in the program, and to invite those students who are about to graduate to become mentors in the program, thus ensuring the continuation of the cycle and the ongoing success of the program.


A successful mentoring program can do much to improve the academic experience of law students. As one of the mentors in the Program explained:

When I commenced study I was bewildered by the change. Although I enjoyed what it was I was studying I often queried whether I had made the right choice. Unfortunately we did not have a mentoring program back then. To be able to bounce concerns, fear, thoughts off someone who had been there, done that would have been extremely useful. I believe the mentoring program is a good opportunity for students and the profession to interact and share their experiences so that university is an even more enjoyable experience and hopefully improve their study techniques and legal skills to stand them in good stead when they become part of the profession. I also believe that it is a golden opportunity for the profession to give back to the community.

A professional mentoring program for law students is one of the ways in which a law school can better support its students during their academic journey and in facing the difficult transition to professional practice. Such a program benefits student participants, particularly those students who do not have any personal connections to the legal profession, by providing the students with insights into the operation of the law in practice and a source of support and guidance when making difficult study and career choices. It also gives them access to a role model, an opportunity to discuss their understanding of the law in a non-competitive and non-assessed environment, and useful social and professional networking opportunities. Participation in a mentoring program also benefits the professional mentors, and the establishment of a successful program provides important benefits to the law school itself.

This article has offered a series of practical recommendations for any law school seeking to establish a professional mentoring program for its students. The law school should establish clear and achievable objectives, select the right type of program, use technology wisely, market the program widely, choose the mentors carefully, establish clear mutual expectations, maximise student autonomy, administer the program proactively, evaluate the program regularly, and thank the participants personally. A carefully designed, proactively administered and properly evaluated program can do much to provide law students with the support that they need in order to become confident, informed and satisfied legal professionals.

[∗] BCom LLB (Hons) LLM PhD. Associate Professor, TC Beirne School of Law, University of Queensland.

[1] Michelle and Joel are based on real law school graduates, although their names have been changed for privacy reasons.

[2] In this regard Joel was, and is, more typical than Michelle. In a 2007 survey of 225 first year law students at UQ, 194 students (86.2 per cent) reported that no members of their immediately family (parents, siblings or partners) were lawyers.

[3] Again, Joel is not alone in this regard. Many law students have unrealistic expectations about legal practice, and are disappointed to discover upon commencing professional practice that working in the law is not what they thought it would be like. It has been suggested this gap between expectation and actuality contributes to the low retention rates for junior lawyers: LexisNexis, ‘Young Lawyers Disheartened by Career Promises’, Lawyers Weekly (Online) March 9 2010 <> .

[4] Colin James, ‘Lawyer Dissatisfaction, Emotional Intelligence and Clinical Legal Education’ (2008) 18 Legal Education Review 123.

[5] See for example Beatons Consulting, ‘Annual Professions Survey 2007: Short Report’ (Beatons Consulting, 2007); G Andrew H Benjamin et al, ‘The Role of Legal Education in Producing Psychological Distress among Law Students and Lawyers’ (1986) 11(2) American Bar Foundation Research Journal 225; Connie J A Beck, Bruce D Sales and G Andrew H Benjamin, ‘Lawyer Distress: Alcohol-Related Problems and Other Psychological Concerns among a Sample of Practicing Lawyers’ (1995) 10(1) Journal of Law and Health 1; Massimiliano Tani and Prue Vines, ‘Law Students’ Attitudes to Education: Pointers to Depression in the Legal Academy and Profession?’ [2009] LegEdRev 2; (2009) 19(1) Legal Education Review 3.

[6] Beck et al, above n 5.

[7] Norm Kelk et al, Courting the Blues: Attitudes Towards Depression in Australian Law Students and Lawyers (Brain and Mind Research Institute, 2009). (‘Courting the Blues’)

[8] Ibid (footnotes omitted, emphasis added).

[9] A participation rate of 10 per cent may not seem impressive, but when one considers that (1) many LLB students have informal mentors and existing personal relationships with practitioners, and choose not to participate in the program, (2) first year and final year LLB students do not appear to be seeking professional mentors (a point examined later in the article) and (3) at any given time during the year there are likely to be at least a few mentors still available for matching, it can be concluded that the Program is successfully meeting student demand for mentors.

[10] The comparatively low rate for students can be partly explained by the fact that the students were more likely to respond to the survey if they had a negative experience.

[11] Examples of Australian programs are listed below.

[12] Tani and Vines, above n 5.

[13] Benjamin, above n 5; Matthew Dammeyer and Narina Nunez, ‘Anxiety and Depression among Law Students: Current Knowledge and Future Directions’ (1999) 23 Law and Human Behaviour 55; Stephen B Shanfield and G Andrew H Benjamin, ‘Psychiatric Distress in Law Students’ (1985) 35 Journal of Legal Education 65; Kennon M Sheldon and Lawrence S Krieger, ‘Understanding the Negative Effects of Legal Education on Law Students: A Longitudinal Test of Self-Determination Theory’ (2007) 33 Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 883.

[14] Benjamin, above n 5; Dammeyer and Nunez, above n 13.

[15] Benjamin, above n 5; Shanfield and Benjamin, above n 13.

[16] Shanfield and Benjamin, above n 13.

[17] Kath Hall, ‘Do We Really Want to Know? Recognising the Importance of Student Psychological Wellbeing in Australian Law Schools’ [2009] QUTLawJJl 1; (2009) 9 QUT Law and Justice Journal 1.

[18] Kelk et al, above n 7, viii.

[19] Rowie Shaw, ‘Can Mentoring Raise Achievement in Schools?’ in Val Brooks and Patricia Sikes (eds), The Good Mentor Guide: Initial Teacher Education in Secondary Schools (Open University Press, 1997); Roger Smith, ‘Research Degrees and Supervision in Polytechnics’ (1989) 13 Journal of Further and Higher Education 76.

[20] Jane Fowler and Tammy Muckert, ‘Tiered Mentoring: Benefits for First-Year Students, Upper Level Students and Professionals’ (Paper presented at the 2004 HERDSA Conference – Transforming Knowledge Into Wisdom, Miri, Malaysia, 2004) <> .

[21] ACER, The Meaning of Mentoring (2005) Association for Colleges in the Eastern Region <> .

[22] Ibid.

[23] Fowler and Muckert, above n 20.

[24] Tani and Vines, above n 5. Social connectedness is an important factor in preventing depression: Keith L Williams and Renee V Galliher, ‘Predicting Depression and Self-Esteem from Social Connectedness, Support and Competence’ (2006) 15(8) Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology 855.

[25] Ron Penner, ‘Mentoring in Higher Education’ (2001) 30 Direction Journal 45. In fact, the origins of the term reveal that the relationship between mentor and student is ideally symbiotic and mutually beneficial. The word ‘mentor’ is usually traced back to the Greek epic poem The Odyssey. When Odysseus goes away to fight, he leaves his son Telemachus in the care of, and to be tutored by, his friend Mentor. The relationship between Telemachus and Mentor is portrayed as one of mutual benefit, and in some versions of the story Telemachus even saves Mentor’s life.

[26] ACER, above n 21.

[27] Kirsten Poulsen, ‘Implementing Successful Mentoring Programs: Career Definition vs Mentoring Approaches’ (2006) 38(5) Industrial and Commercial Training 251.

[28] ACER, above n 21.

[29] Fiona Martin, Kate Collier and Shirley Carlon, 'Mentoring First-Year Distance Education Students in Taxation Studies' (2009) 19(1-2) Legal Education Review 217.

[30] Poppy Husband and Pamela Jacobs, ‘Peer Mentoring in Higher Education: A Review of the Current Literature and Recommendations for Implementation of Mentoring Schemes’ (2009) 2 The Plymouth Student Scientist 228.

[31] See for example LexisNexis, ‘Queensland Lawyers to Become Mentors’ Lawyers Weekly (Online) 26 October 2006 <> T C Beirne School of Law, ‘Law School Mentoring Program Recognises Participants’ Efforts’ (15 October 2008) <> University of Queensland, ‘Hats Off to UQ Law School Mentors’ (15 October 2008) UQ News <> .

[32] The level of student satisfaction with school programs — as measured directly by course, program and graduation surveys such as the CEQ, and indirectly by attrition rates and changing demand for the school’s courses and programs — has a significant impact not only upon the school’s reputation and standing within the community but also upon the school’s financial position, since the internal funding models of many universities now refer to student satisfaction levels when determining levels of funding provided to the school.

[33] Hall, above n 17.

[34] According to Mentoring Australia, a well-defined mission statement and established operating principles are key characteristics of a successful program: Mentoring Australia, Mentoring: Benchmarks for Effective and Responsible Mentoring Programs (2000) <> . See also P Poldre, ‘Mentoring Programs: A Question of Design’ (1994) 25(2) Interchange 183.

[35] Martin et al, above n 29.

[36] Australian National University, Mentoring Program, <> See also C O’Shea, ‘The Australian National University’s Undergraduate Peer Mentoring Program’ (Centre for Education and Development and Academic Methods, Australian National University, 2002).

[37] Macquarie University, Mentors@Macquarie Program, <> .

[38] University of Central Queensland, Student Mentor and Leadership Program, <> .

[39] University of Newcastle SOS Mentor Program, <> .

[40] University of New South Wales, Peer Mentor and Support Program, <> .

[41] University of the Sunshine Coast, Student Mentor Program, <> .

[42] University of Western Australia, Uni Mentor, <> .

[43] University of New South Wales, Law School Peer Mentor Program, <> .

[44] University of Sydney, Peer Mentoring Program, <> .

[45] Charles Darwin University, Alumni, <> .

[46] Flinders University, Workplace Mentoring Program, <> .

[47] Macquarie University, Macquarie Ambassadors, <> .

[48] Murdoch University, Alumni Career Mentoring Program, <> .

[49] Griffith University, Industry Mentoring Program, <> .

[50] University of Melbourne, Career Mentor Connection, <> .

[51] University of Southern Queensland, Career Mentoring, <> .

[52] University of Western Australia, Career Mentor Link, <> .

[53] Victoria University, Career Bridge, <> .

[54] University of Queensland, UQ Law Mentor Program, <> .

[55] Griffith University, Uni-Key Peer Mentor Program, <> .

[56] University of Sydney, Lucy Mentoring Program, <> .

[57] University of Newcastle, LUCY Mentoring Program, <> .

[58] University of New South Wales, The Premier’s Lucy Mentoring Program, <> .

[59] Graduate Careers Australia, Willing and Able Mentoring < Progam/index.htm> .

[60] Tammy Allen, Elizabeth Lentz and Lillian Eby, ‘Mentorship Behaviors and Mentorship Quality Associated with Formal Mentoring Programs: Closing the Gap between Research and Practice’ (2006) 91(3) Journal of Applied Psychology 567.

[61] David Clutterbuck, ‘Mentoring and the Legal Profession: Developing Professionals for Real’ (2005) 19(1) Development and Learning in Organizations: An International Journal 10.

[62] Barbara Goldflam, ‘Changing the Culture: Student Mentoring in Engineering’ (Paper presented at the Second Regional Conference on Tutoring and Mentoring, Perth, 2004) <> Hilde Willems and Mieke Smet, ‘Mentoring Driving Diversity’ (2007) 25(Summer) Organization Development Journal 2.

[63] Toni Campbell and David Campbell, ‘Outcomes of Mentoring At-risk College Students: Gender and Ethnic Matching Effects’ (2007) 15(2) Mentoring and Tutoring: Partnerships in Learning 135.

[64] Husband and Jacobs, above n 30.

[65] Kate Collier and Jacqui McManus, ‘Setting up Learning Partnerships in Vet: Lessons Learnt’ (2005) 57 Journal of Vocational Education and Training 251. For a more detailed description of the benefits of using peer mentors in a law school program see Martin et al, above n 29. See also Husband and Jacobs, above n 30.

[66] Biddy Fisher, Mentoring (Library Association Publishing, 1994); Alison Morton-Cooper and Anne Palmer, Mentoring and Preceptorship: A Guide to Support Roles in Clinical Practice (Blackwell Science, 1993); Pauline Smith and John West-Burnham (eds), Mentoring in the Effective School (Longman, 1993). In ancient Greece it was common for young males to be mentored by older, experienced males. The mentors were usually relatives or friends of the family, and it was expected that the young males would learn from and emulate the values of the mentor. The term mentor has thus become synonymous with someone who is usually older, of greater experience and more senior in the world the student being mentored: Gareth Lewis and Stephen Carter, Successful Mentoring in a Week: Successful Business in a Week (Headway, 1994).

[67] Of course, the law school is not necessarily obliged to choose between using peer mentors and using practitioner mentors. The school may choose to use both types of mentor in a ‘tiered’ mentoring program, one where first year students are mentored by later year students, who are in turn mentored by graduates and practitioners. Those that advocate such programs insist that they better prepare student participants to later become mentors in the program: Fowler and Muckert, above n 20. At the University of Queensland the law student society has launched its own peer mentoring program for first year law students. While the UQ Law Mentor Program is affiliated with this program in that first year students are referred to the law society program, it is not structured as recommended by Fowler and Muckert: the peer mentors in the law society program are not necessarily participating as protégés in the alumni mentoring program.

[68] For privacy and equity reasons they do not include the name of the mentor.

[69] Unless the mentor has indicated that they are willing to mentor more than one student.

[70] According to the results of a 2009 online survey of mentors in the UQ Law Mentor Program, approximately two thirds of the mentors indicated that the primary means of interacting with their students was by email.

[71] Vicki Whiting and Suzanne C De Janasz, ‘Mentoring in the 21st Century: Using the Internet to Build Skills and Networks’ (2004) 28(3) Journal of Management Education 275.

[72] Betti Hamilton and Terri Scandura, ‘E-Mentoring: Implications for Organizational Learning and Development in a Wired World’ (2003) 3(4) Organizational Dynamics 388.

[73] Sigrid Mueller, ‘Electronic Mentoring as an Example for the Use of Information and Communications Technology in Engineering Education’ (2004) 29(1) European Journal of Engineering Education 53; Peg Single and Carol Muller, ‘Electronic Mentoring: Issues to Advance Research and Practice’ (Paper presented at the International Mentoring Association Conference, Atlanta, 1999) <> However, it has also been acknowledged that some face-to-face contact, particularly at the start of the program, is important in order to generate enthusiasm and acknowledge the mentors: Allen, Lentz and Eby, above n 60; Subha Ramani, Larry Gruppen and Elizabeth Krajic Kachur, ‘Twelve Tips for Developing Effective Mentors’ (2006) 28(5) Medical Teacher 404.

[74] Single and Muller, above n 73.

[75] Lee Sproull and Sara Kiesler, Connections: New Ways of Working in the Networked Organization (MIT Press, 1992).

[76] As explained above, the UQ Law Society — the law student society — administers a separate mentor program for first year law students, matching them with later year law students and focussing primarily upon helping them adjust to life in law school.

[77] Eric Parsloe, The Manager as a Coach and Mentor (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, 1999).

[78] Fisher, above n 66.

[79] Husband and Jacobs, above n 30.

[80] Ramani, Gruppen and Krajic, above n 73.

[81] Mentoring Australia, above n 34.

[82] Poldre, above n 34; Ramani, Gruppen and Krajic, above n 73. Van Emmerick et al note that the motives of mentors are often self-serving, including perceived career advancement, and there is a need to be careful that mentors aren’t just young, ambitious and self serving: Hetty Van Emmerick, S Gayle Baugh and Martin Euwema, ‘Who Wants to Be a Mentor? An Examination of Attitudinal, Instrumental and Social Motivational Components’ (2005) 10(4) Career Development International 310.

[83] Grace Dondero, ‘Mentors: Beacons of Hope’ (1997) 32 Adolescence 881. Dondero points out that ‘drive-by mentoring can be more detrimental to the youth than never having had a mentor’.

[84] The UQ Law Mentor Program website includes the following disclaimer: ‘While the TC Beirne School of Law will endeavour to ensure that that Mentors and students are matched appropriately, neither the School nor The University of Queensland are responsible for the conduct of either Mentors or students, and the School and the University expressly disclaim all liability for loss, damage or injury of any kind whether in contract, tort, under statute or otherwise occasioned as a result of participating in the the University of Queensland Law Mentor Program.

[85] Norhasni Zainal Abiddin, ‘Mentoring and Coaching: The Roles and Practices’ (2006) SSRN Working Paper Series <> .

[86] Judith MacCallum and Susan Beltman, ‘Mentoring: An Old Idea That Works – or Does It?’ (Paper presented at the Second Regional Conference on Tutoring and Mentoring, Perth, 1999) <> Robert McCauley, ‘Building a Successful Mentoring Program’ (2007) 30 Journal for Quality and Participation 17; Mentoring Australia, above n 34.

[87] Poldre, above n 34; Ramani, Gruppen and Krajic, above n 73.

[88] Abiddin, above n 85.

[89] According to Mentoring Australia a responsible mentoring program requires regular, consistent contact between mentor and mentee: Mentoring Australia, above n 34.

[90] Girves et al refer to these two approaches as ‘grooming’ and ‘networking’ mentoring models respectively, and argue the latter is more beneficial to the mentee in that there is less emphasis on the mentor as ‘guru’ and more of a two-way information flow between the participants: Jean Girves, Yolanda Zapeda and Judith Gwathmey, ‘Mentoring in a Post-Affirmative Action World’ (2005) 61(3) Journal of Social Issues 449.

[91] According to Allen, protégés are more satisfied with their mentor when they have input into the matching process: Allen, Lentz and Eby, above n 60.

[92] Tani and Vines, above n 5, 26-8

[93] Ibid. The dominant characteristics of depressed thinking include feelings of helplessness and loss of autonomy: Kennon Sheldon, ‘What Is Satisfying About Satisfying Events? Testing 10 Candidate Psychological Needs’ (2001) 80 Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 325.

[94] Ramani, Gruppen and Krajic, above n 73.

[95] Mentoring Australia, above n 34.

[96] Mentoring Australia, above n 34; Poldre, above n 34; Ramani, Gruppen and Krajic, above n 73. According to Hansford, research regarding the criteria by which a mentoring program might be appropriately assessed appears to be scant and in some cases lacking in methodological rigour: Brian Hansford, Lee Tennent and Lisa Ehrich, ‘Business Mentoring: Help or Hindrance?’ (2002) 10(2) Mentoring and Tutoring 101. Similarly, Fowler and Muckert note that not much academic work has been done to evaluate the effectiveness of student-to-industry mentoring programs: Fowler and Muckert, above n 20.

[97] Hansford, Tennent and Ehrich, above n 16; Poulsen, above n 27; Ramani, Gruppen and Krajic, above n 73.

[98] See Ramani, Gruppen and Krajic, above n 73; Peg Single and Carol Muller, ‘When Email and Mentoring Unite: The Implementation of a Nationwide Electronic Mentoring Program’ in Linda K Stromei (ed), Creating Mentoring and Coaching Programs (American Society for Training & Development In Action Series, 2001) 107. It may be appropriate to collect prior to the commencement of the program any baseline data against which the outcomes of the program will be determined and evaluated: Ida Abbott, ‘Evaluating Mentoring Programs’ (29 March 2006) Management Solutions <> .

[99] Ramani, Gruppen and Krajic, above n 73.

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