SINGAPORE: Being a lawyer has been known to be a demanding job, but junior lawyers feeling the heat can soon turn to their seniors for some emotional support.
The Law Society announced a new relational mentor scheme at a mass call to the bar on Tuesday (Aug 29). Junior lawyers - those in the industry for five years or less - can request for a mentor through the Law Society, who will then match them with a senior.
Mentors will also be able to provide career counselling, and advise on ethical dilemmas when the scheme starts within the next two months. Senior lawyers interested in mentoring their juniors can register with the Law Society.
"Essentially what we hope to do is to build relationship in a community of lawyers. The idea is not to mollycoddle ... but to really impart some resilience tips and tools for some of our lawyers," said Law Society president Gregory Vijayendran.
And to prevent breaches of confidence, Mr Vijayendran added that clear guidelines will be in place on what cannot be shared between the mentor and mentee.
“The moment a mentee strays into confidential territory, the mentor has to put a stop (to it),” he said.
Over 480 advocates and solicitors were called to the bar on Monday and Tuesday.
One of them, 48-year-old Kenneth Tan, said it is a good initiative even for someone his age.
"I look forward to seeking guidance from members of the bar ... It's a very important process of learning and one which I'm fully appreciative of," Mr Tan said.
MORE MEANING, LESS OVERTIME
Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon said he hopes the scheme will create better working conditions for the legal sector in a speech at the event.
"We can do more as a profession. I urge our law firms to make it a priority to examine the kinds of safeguards they have in place for lawyers who are struggling to cope with the volume and pace of the work."
The Chief Justice also highlighted that one of the challenges young lawyers face today is the search for meaning and purpose. They should look beyond personal rewards, he said.
“Such a goal is too thin and too anaemic to provide the moving force for a lifetime of committed labour. Instead, I hope you will find in your practice a devotion to something that is larger than yourself, for that is the only way in which you will be able to keep yourself going over the long haul.”
For now, lawyers who feel that they are struggling in the industry can call the Law Society's Members and Assistance Care Hotline for help. Those who want to improve their technical expertise can also tap onto the PracMentor scheme.
An update was also given on a review of the ways which law firms offer training contracts.
The Chief Justice said 10 focus group sessions have been carried out so far to have better insights on where the concerns with the overall professional training regime lie. Suggestions on how it might be reformed were also received.
A report is expected to be out within the next few months.