The mentoring effect

By Andy Walsh

The MLS Mentor Program is proving invaluable to both students and professionals alike, with mentors providing advice to both MLS Juris Doctor and international Masters students. 

Former Judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria The Hon Bernard Teague AO has a great deal of knowledge and experience to share.

He does just that as part of Melbourne Law School's mentor program.

But the charismatic and humble 78-year-old knows that there is also a lot he can learn from those he mentors, as he did from third-year Melbourne Juris Doctor student Mohamed Khairat.

The two were paired in the program mid-last year.

Mr Khairat aspires to forge a legal career that combines his passion for journalism.

The Egyptian-born 23-year-old started online opinion blog Egyptian Streets in July 2012, a month after the first Presidential elections post-revolution. It is the most widely-read source of Egyptian news published in English, averaging 600 000 unique visitors per month, and has more than 40 contributors from 17 countries.

He says being mentored by Mr Teague has given him a new perspective.

“Being mentored has been very important to me personally because it really exposed me to the different pathways that lawyers can take upon graduating.

(The experience) really showed me how with hard work, you can achieve amazing things.

Since his retirement from the bench in 2008 Mr Teague has led the Royal Commission into the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires, and more recently chaired the Hazlewood Mine Fire Inquiry, with its final report tabled in State Parliament in April this year.

Mr Teague says the mentoring experience has allowed him to see how much the law has changed since he retired from the Supreme Court, and in what direction the youth of today intend to take the law.

“I enjoy the process (of mentoring) because it might be thought that the student is going to benefit from being with me, but I am learning a lot about the attitudes of people of (Mohamed’s) generation,” he says.

“They have a kind of love of the law that I treasure.”

Mentoring, at least at an informal level, is not new in the legal industry.

The former judge says the concept has proved vital to young law students and lawyers alike, and it is something he himself took to in his formative years working in the law.

I have always been someone who would want to be mentored without thinking about it in terms of being mentored. Naturally, I find that interchange in a work environment, just the best possible way of learning the practice of law.

The MLS mentor program involves alumni and non-alumni professionals with both a legal or other background. Mentors meet with their assigned students three to four times per year.

Mr Khairat says the program has given him invaluable experience.

Without the mentoring program, I think students wouldn’t get that insight into what it is like to work in a professional field and hear more from people actually working in that field.

“The mentor program is crucial for students studying law.”

For more information or to register for Melbourne Law School’s mentor program, visit MLS Mentor Program.

Banner image: The Hon Bernard Teague AO and Mohamed Khairat (JD, 2015)

Credit: supplied

This article originally appeared in MLS News, Issue 15, June 2016.