Programme - Pathways to Law
Year - 2009
Current Role - Solicitor
I first came across Brightside when my school was offering online mentoring.
Although I can’t remember everything about the programme (as it was 14 years ago!) I remember the impact it had. My mentor answered my questions about how to get work experience, how to tailor my application to uni and managed my expectations about life there. It’s one thing getting into university (and the legal profession) but another thing staying on.
Mentoring also helped me emotionally because it was someone relatable (and impartial) who had recently gone through the process before.
My mentor created a safe space for me, and that’s something I wanted to create when I became a mentor.
I was in my second year of uni, studying law at LSE, when I saw an advert for the Sutton Trust’s Pathways to Law programme. They were looking for mentors and I jumped at the chance. I thought, I’ve done this and it’s amazing.
I had four mentees on the programme who were all from social mobility backgrounds thinking about a career in law. I met all four in person at LSE and then we kept talking via the online mentoring platform. Two were very engaged and always responded, but the other two were a little harder to reach.
I found that a good way of engaging the quieter mentees was to tell them more about myself. As a woman of colour from a social mobility background (and no contacts in the legal profession or other networks to rely on), I thought it would be harder for me to find opportunities. I told them what I’d learned at school, sixth form and uni and I started to get more engagement. They told me they could connect with my experiences and opened up from there.
Because I’d been a mentee before, I knew what it was like. I remember finding it hard to know what to say, what to ask, where to begin. That made me even more determined to help them thrive.
I thought the online platform was great, even back then. It was a bit like MSN! I remember finding it easy to use, with lots of tools, coloured text, emojis, guidelines and notifications. I think it’s a great way of engaging with young people because they’re not always free to meet in person and might live hundreds of miles away. They don’t have to save up questions for when they next visit a uni, they can just ask them instantly and informally to someone around their age they can relate to.
It’s all about quick questions and quick answers. It’s also a great way of learning to engage with people outside of your circle.
I’m now a Solicitor at Bates Wells where I advise charities, social enterprises and other businesses. The firm partners with The Sutton Trust to offer work experience to students on the Pathways to Law programme (which includes students receiving Brightside mentoring) so it’s like I’ve come full circle; from first interacting with Brightside at sixth form, then at uni, then in my career.
I absolutely believe in the power of mentoring. So many young people don’t know how to get where they want to go, and don’t have the connections to ask. Mentoring fills that gap, makes a huge difference and puts young people on a level playing field.