Undergraduate law students give insight into law mentoring scheme
We spoke to law students, Maddy Cornmell and Shaked Yanko, about their experiences as Wellbeing and Support Officers within the Law Society, and their joint role in leading the law mentoring scheme, that 45 pairs of students are already involved in.
Why did you both join the Law Society?
Maddy: “I joined because I wanted to be more engaged with likeminded young lawyers in my final year of university. I applied for the role of Wellbeing and Support officer and after a video interview, was offered one of the two roles, alongside Shaked.”
Shaked: “I joined the Law Society because the now Vice-President told me I’d be a great fit for it and the Wellbeing and Support Officer role stood out to me. It’s about being a point of contact and crutch for any struggling students, as well as organising charity events.”
How does the mentoring scheme work?
Maddy: “The mentoring scheme involves the pairing of first-year law students with second or final-year law students. I spent the summer creating two questionnaires, one for mentors, which we recruited first to get an idea of how many mentoring couples we could pair, and one for mentees.
We prioritised the pairing of mentoring couples based on:
- Their preferences on how they’d like to meet (due to Covid-19)
- Modules that students were struggling with and needed guidance on
- Whether they had any legal work experience (non-legal work experience was also considered, as many mentors have lots of transferable skills)
- Students’ career aspirations, as we tried to pair aspiring barristers with aspiring barristers, and aspiring solicitors with aspiring solicitors.
How many people are part of the scheme?
Maddy and Shaked: “We currently have about 45 pairs of students. We’re planning on opening the scheme up again next semester, as many first-year students might now realise how valuable having a mentor can be after their first set of exams!”
What does a mentoring session involve?
Maddy and Shaked: “How a mentor and mentee meet up is down to them. The scheme is very self-guided, and we are planning on running a drop-in Zoom session in December for any mentors or mentees, to raise any questions or concerns.”
How do you think people are finding the mentoring scheme?
Shaked: “I’ve had feedback from a few mentors in their final year and they’re really enjoying it! The mentoring scheme is there to give first-year students that extra support they most likely need, and if they’re really struggling with any mental health or wellbeing issues, their mentors can notify myself or Maddy and we can speak to them ourselves, or refer them to the Centre of Wellbeing, on campus.
“Their wellbeing and happiness is our first priority, and we thoroughly hope the mentoring scheme is helping with that.”
And finally, why did you choose Surrey?
Maddy: “I chose to come to Surrey because I remember loving the campus while on the open day. I didn’t want a city campus and the green environment and beautiful town felt perfect for me. Guildford itself is not a far commute from London either, which has been perfect when I’ve had work experience there.
“The University also has links with the University of Law and lots of law firms, which was important for me as I’m going to train as a solicitor. The opportunities for work experience and networking have been invaluable.”
Shaked: “Surrey’s School of Law is well ranked, and I loved the diversity of the academic staff; with professors from all over the world. Like Maddy, I didn't want a city university and felt like Surrey's campus is very close-knit and intimate which I absolutely love.”
Regarding the mentoring scheme, Professor Alex Sarch, Head of the School of Law commented: “I’m delighted to see the Law Society’s student mentoring scheme take off so well, and it is a real testament to the strong learning community we have in the School of Law. The students supporting each other in these ways, alongside more traditional support and mentoring from academic staff, have joined to provide a terrific educational experience for our students. Covid-19 has obviously made life difficult in so many ways over the past year, but the students’ resilience and positivity is tremendously impressive to me and this student mentoring scheme is yet another reason we are so proud of our unique law student community here at Surrey.”
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