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25 August 2021

Here to help: Launch of College of Law Mentoring Programme

Published on 25 August 2021
LLB and JD students can now connect with senior New Zealand lawyers, barristers, partners and prosecutors through The College of Law’s Mentoring Programme, an initiative supported by the New Zealand Bar Association, and the Deans of New Zealand’s Law Schools and Law School Student Presidents. 
Insights explores how the programme works, how it differs from existing mentoring programmes, and provides an opportunity to meet the mentors involved.
Unprecedented access to an experienced panel of legal mentors
The programme provides direct access to a panel of experienced legal professionals, available to answer any questions put to them. 
Unlike 1-on-1 mentoring programmes, which often match you with an individual mentor for a set period of time, The College of Law’s Mentoring Programme provides you with the opportunity to pose questions to multiple mentors, and gain their tips, feedback or advice.
Your mentors were carefully selected by our Mentoring Board:
  • Jennifer Caldwell, Partner, Auckland, National Chair, Chair Buddle Findlay
  • Kate Davenport QC, Barrister & President of the New Zealand Bar Association
  • Matthew McClelland QC, Barrister, Harbour Chambers
  • Charl Hirschfeld, Barrister, Ranfurly Chambers
  • Marcus Martin, CEO, College of Law New Zealand
Once you submit your application form, approval takes up to two weeks. 
Meet Your Mentors
We’ve interviewed some of your mentors, so you can get a better understanding of their experience and see how they might match with your career aspirations.
Mark Williams | Public Defender - Manukau, Public Defence Service
What attracted you to being a mentor?
I’ve practised law for 25 years in the UK, New Zealand, Samoa and the Cook Islands. I want to impart my knowledge and experience and offer guidance and mentoring to the next generation of lawyers so that they can navigate decisions as to where to work, their chosen field, and career progression. I also want to be on hand to help with those tricky issues that might arise where advice from someone outside their working environment would be beneficial, or simply to be a sounding board.
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
The professionalism shown by the legal community and being part of that community. In my particular field, you can really make a difference in the community in which we work.

Kate Stubbing | Senior Associate, Cooney Lees Morgan

What attracted you to being a mentor?
I was attracted to being part of the Mentoring Programme for two reasons.  
First, one of the things I love about my role is the coaching and mentoring of junior lawyers in the team.  Watching colleagues develop and learn new skills, particularly during the transition from university through those first few years, is an exciting time.  It is a steep learning curve and the ability to provide guidance or assist junior lawyers during that period attracted me to the programme.  
Second, I have had the privilege of having some great mentors and role models during my time in the profession.  From this I know how important the role of a mentor is, and why everyone should have the opportunity to have a mentor.  Being involved in this new mentoring programme and having the opportunity to work with lawyers who are just starting their careers is exciting.
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
There are a number of things I enjoy about being a lawyer – it is constantly challenging and no two days or files are the same.  Being around people who are continually learning and striving to be their best creates a great environment to work in and to learn from.  
Right from my early days as a graduate lawyer in Christchurch I have been surrounded by colleagues and other members of the profession whether it was through the firm I worked at, junior practitioner groups, or through specialist groups such as being a member of the Resource Management Law Association (RMLA).  Having a broad group of peers to talk to, share experiences with, and learn from is a rewarding part of being a lawyer.
Joanna Beresford | Associate, Meredith Connell
What attracted you to being a mentor?
My experience in other mentoring programmes is that both mentors and mentees can lack the time required for the mentoring relationship, and that over time, the mentoring relationship can become fatigued.  The panel format will help spread the questions across more people, making it easier for mentors to respond to questions quickly and allowing mentees to draw on a wider range of experiences within the profession. 
The collegiality aspects of this mentoring programme, and the opportunity to create connections across different levels of the profession particularly attracted me to the programme.
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
I am a resource management and environmental lawyer and I am passionate about what I do.  I really enjoy getting involved in development projects, and I get genuine satisfaction out of helping other people to achieve their goals.  I enjoy the puzzle of applying my skills and knowledge to my client’s particular problem and coming up with practical solutions. 
I enjoy the teaching aspect of the role in terms of explaining and training young professionals – and always find that I learn a lot from those young professionals too.
Leigh Zeigler | Senior Associate, Buddle Findlay
What attracted you to being a mentor?
Although I've been in the profession for just over 10 years, I vividly remember how difficult it can be, navigating a new career in the legal profession.  You have a myriad of questions, doubts, and uncertainties about what you're doing, and it can be hard finding an appropriate person to reach out to. Equally, the thought of committing to a mentoring programme with a 1-on-1 mentor seemed daunting.
When I heard about the Mentoring Programme, it seemed like a smart way to address some of these difficulties.  It allows mentees to engage with a range of people, and the online format is less confrontational for those who might be shy about a 1-on-1 in person relationship.
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
I work in resource management and environmental law, and one of the most rewarding aspects of being a member of the legal profession is being part of a team that sees a project develop from an early concept to a fully developed project.  I do a lot of infrastructure work, which means we work closely with our clients and their consultants to obtain approval for projects. It is rewarding being a part of these teams, being involved in the development of these projects, and seeing them being built in the environment around us.
As lawyers, no matter what area of law you're involved in, I think a key part of our work is being a part of a team working towards real-life outcomes, which shape the world around us.  It’s a rewarding thing to be a part of! 

Learn more about The College of Law Mentoring Programme