MOSAIC stands for Mentoring Opportunities Amongst In-house Counsel and is the global mentoring programme for in-house legal professionals. The second in our series of posts looks at how our mentoring matching works, the different types of mentoring relationships, who makes a good mentor, and also provides tips on how to be a good mentor.
How our mentoring matching works
The decision to move to smart technology to match legal professionals was a game-changer for MOSAIC as the programme is no longer limited by human capability. Time, resource, geography, knowledge and familiarity of other jurisdictional challenges are no longer constraints and in-house legal professionals all over the globe can connect with each other.
We worked closely with US software firm Chronus to design an algorithm that suggests mentor matches to mentees based on specifications that they select when completing their profiles, a profile questionnaire that we have designed with the in-house legal community in mind. The website algorithm searches the database for a match according to those specifications and provides a percentage match. The mentee can then make a mentoring request to any of the suggested mentors.
Once the mentor accepts the request, the system allows the mentoring pair to schedule appointments, set goals, receive emails and push notifications. There is also an app of the MOSAIC platform (powered by Chronus in iOS and Android)) that can be downloaded following registration.
Matching very much depends on the mentee’s mentoring goals. Our standard mentoring connection plan is for 12 months and reflects the membership fee. Mentoring can be long-term or short-term and take place on a peer-to-peer basis. The frequency of the meetings, location and structure of the mentoring should be agreed by the mentoring pair.
Different types of mentoring relationships
We truly believe that there is no stereotypical fit for a good mentor; there are no specific age, PQE, title or seniority requirements. Mentors should reflect the diversity of the in-house legal profession. For example, a lawyer moving in-house for the first time from private practice won’t need a head of legal or general counsel; they will need someone who has successfully transitioned from private practice recently and can help them with their own career transition.
There are other types of mentoring, in addition to the well-known senior to junior mentoring. For example:
- Peer mentoring. This is suitable for individuals at similar levels or stages of their career. Peer mentoring can include skills training, general support and advice or options on career goals.
- Reverse mentoring. This is ideal for a senior legal professional to help them get up to-speed with a generational concept or modern systems and technology.
- Situational mentoring. This is perfect for a specific project, purpose or skill.
Who makes a good mentor?
Each mentor will have unique experiences or insights that are meaningful. A good mentor is someone willing to:
- Give up some time (at most usually a few hours a month).
- Be a good listener.
- Share some of their own experiences, insights and learnings.
- Be a trusted confidant and, should the need arise, a sanity check.
We appreciate that a mentor is giving their time for free to a stranger and, on the face of it, a mentor might question what it’s in it for them. However, mentors have told us that they have found the experience to be incredibly rewarding, not only personally fulfilling, but in more concrete terms too. For example, by:
- Building their CV.
- Providing leadership and managerial type experience.
- Expanding their network.
- Giving them a fresh perspective on their own career.
Key traits of an effective mentor
By setting an example, mentors can motivate mentees and point them towards future paths that go beyond their original aspirations. It is important to challenge mentees to find importance in what they aspire to do and help them create a future vision.
Be an active listener
A sign of good listening is that mentees feel that they have been clearly heard and understood. Mentees are then more likely to feel accepted and put more trust in the mentoring relationship. One form of active listening is remembering or showing interest in things mentees have previously mentioned.
Share similar experiences
Mentors are not expected to be superheroes. Most of the time they are people who have already experienced similar situations to those that their mentees now face. By sharing experiences, mentors can help mentees feel more empowered to deal with their own challenges successfully.
Provide corrective feedback in an encouraging manner
It is not always easy to take feedback well. However, hearing it in a motivating and encouraging tone can help mentees accept and apply feedback more readily.
Speak of mentees in positive or neutral ways
Mentees need to trust that the discussions are confidential, and the mentoring relationship is mutually supportive. Mentors should provide only positive or neutral comments when speaking about mentees to others.
Becoming a member of MOSAIC
To become a member of MOSAIC you must work in-house and not in a law firm. In-house means the legal departments of private and publicly held companies, as well as government and regulatory agencies. You can be a qualified solicitor, barrister or attorney, a patent or trade mark attorney, work in legal operations, compliance, the company secretariat or be a former lawyer who now runs your own business. Trainees or apprentices doing their training contracts in-house are also eligible to join.
We charge a small annual membership fee (free to mentors) to cover costs and develop and expand the programme. We don’t hog your inbox with a mailing list, instead follow MOSAIC on LinkedIn for announcements and our latest news. For further information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website.