Written by Michelle A. Seto
For the second year in a row, Bennett Jones collaborated with the Ontario Bar Association Women Lawyer's Forum, Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers, South Asian Bar Association, and Canadian Association of Black Lawyers to host Women’s Speed Mentoring: The Track to Success in our Toronto office. We had 140 women lawyers from private practice, government, and in-house join us for a fireside chat with Renu Mandhane, Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, and an exciting hour of speed mentoring followed by a mix-and-mingle.
Pictured fro left to right: Bianca Thomas, Chair of OBA Women Lawyer's Forum, Michelle Seto, Co-Chair of FACL's Women's Committee, Bethany McKoy, Chair of CABL's Young Lawyers Division and Social Committee, and Divya Khurana, Chair of SABA's Women's Committee.
Renu Mandhane shared her stories about her journey in law, insights about the power of mentors and champions, and advice on how to succeed in the legal profession.
Here are the key takeaways.
- True mentorship means having meaningful relationships. These are based on a genuine caring for another person’s advancement.
- Mentors can help young, racialized lawyers overcome the lack of an established business network.
- A mentor’s generosity and willingness to spend personal capital are key qualities in helping young women advance professionally and personally.
When a young lawyer is looking for a mentor, it helps to:
- Do your research. Is there someone you admire within your organization and your different networks (law school alumni, volunteer boards, family and friends)? What do you want your practice to look like in 5, 10, 15 years from now?
- Set a goal for the mentoring relationship. This could be advancing to a new step in your career, learning how to be strategic in business, or building your professional network.
- Ask. When you find the right person, be bold and ask if you can begin a mentoring relationship. This may feel like a difficult step, but a potential mentor needs to be approached and asked for the relationship to begin.
Being Tenacious and Taking Risks
Renu closed her remarks with two key pieces of advice for young women lawyers on how to succeed in their careers:
Tenacity. For young female lawyers to reach their career goals, there is no substitute for tenacity and determination.
Take risks. This can seem daunting, but not taking risks will limit career success. Women may feel pressure from colleagues and even family to avoid risks and play-it-safe. But women have to make the decisions that are best for them and trust their instincts.