Speaking with Lawyers Weekly, DibbsBarker partner Fay Calderone (pictured) said: “We are losing young lawyers, and particularly young female lawyers, at a rate greater than we should be, and anything we can do to stop that is critical.”
She continued: “I think mentoring is one of those keys to not only harness talent, but stop them from leaving the profession prematurely.”
Mentoring young lawyers helps them to “understand their strengths and overcome their weaknesses”, developing them into successful professionals, according to Ms Calderone.
“A lot of the time, young lawyers are high achievers. They've come through with good grades, and they tend to be perfectionists and black and white in their thinking,” she said. “So it’s important they have that reassurance and support through a mentor that they don't necessarily have through a supervisor.”
Another benefit of having a mentorship is that it can help address and prevent mental health issues, Ms Calderone said.
“The statistics in our profession about depression and anxiety and people struggling with mental health are devastating,” she added.
“These things shouldn’t be happening and we need to recognise it and address it. Those channels where people do have a lifeline, or someone that they speak to at a more senior level who helps them develop and gain perspective, is critical.”
While it’s important that mentorships have structure, it’s also important to have informal channels of communication in place, she continued.
“Naturally, the times that they need you most will not be the planned meetings; it'll be when things go wrong from time to time.”
From a mentor's perspective, Ms Calderone said the role should not be looked at as a burden, but as an investment of time to help grow the future of the profession.
Ms Calderone said that while all young lawyers benefit from having a mentor, minority groups and females – who face additional challenges in the profession – benefit especially.
“Women are more likely to be discriminated against, bullied or sexually harassed at work. They're also likely to doubt their own abilities and suffer from imposter syndrome more," she explained.
“A good mentor can help young women confront their challenges, embrace vulnerabilities, focus on their strengths and let go of perfection.”