ADLS Buddy programme – “You’ll gain more than you think”

Being part of the ADLS Newly Suited Lawyer and Student Buddy programme has been a huge help for law student Patricia Lu.

Buddy

In her final year of studying for her BA/LLB at the University of Auckland, Ms Lu explains that, like many law students, she has a heavy workload, a lot on her plate, and some big decisions to make about what comes next after uni.

“I’m thinking about my career and the areas of law that I might work in. There’s a lot to think about, lots of questions to be asked, and it’s been hard to narrow my choices. Having a mentor – someone who is not too far along in their career to act as a sounding board, who can relate to what I’m going through, answer my questions and put things into perspective – has been really helpful. It’s great to know that he’s there and I can call on him.

“As a student, you often don’t know what you don’t know, nor what’s out there. It can sometimes be overwhelming and there is a self-imposed pressure to get it right. William [Fussey] has helped me to worry less, and not feel restricted when making career choices. He’s been a great support, and encourages me to keep in touch. I know that I can ask him any question, and he’ll listen and won’t judge. He’s helped me in all sorts of ways, including with my CV and research materials for my course,” she says.

Ms Lu heard about the programme through AULSS – the Auckland University Law Students’ Association – and has been partnered with Mr Fussey for around six months. Students and lawyers are matched via the areas of law they’re interested in.

Mentor William Fussey, who is an employment, health and safety, and privacy law specialist with EY Law, says the ADLS Newly Suited Lawyer and Student Buddy programme is a good initiative and a great way to give back to the profession.

“I’ve only been a practising lawyer for about two and a half years. I know what it’s like to be a law student, thinking: ‘Will I get a job as a lawyer? What job will my law degree get me?’ One of the challenges in moving from studying law to working in law is moving from an academic mindset to giving commercially-practical advice. That’s something that comes with time, but it is an area to flag early with students.

“The more people in the legal profession who can provide mentoring and advice to students, the better. In general, law firms know that there is a lot of bridging the gap that is required to get young lawyers up-to-speed,” he says.

Both say there is a lot of value in the mentor-buddy relationship. “I think it’s important and worthwhile,” says Mr Fussey. “From my perspective, it doesn’t take a lot of time. I enjoy supporting the profession and helping the next crop of young lawyers transition into work. It’s something that I can see myself doing for a while.”

Ms Lu strongly encourages law students to give the ADLS Newly Suited Lawyer and Student Buddy programme a go. “You’ll gain far more than you think. On a personal level, it has been great for me, it is not a big time commitment and has really helped to put things into perspective. Once I’m settled into work, I can see myself on the other side of the relationship and buddying up with a student.”

ADLS has Newly Suited Lawyer and Student Buddy programmes running with four law schools around New Zealand. To find out how to become a lawyer mentor or know more about the programme, get in touch with Meenal Dalmia at meenal.dalmia@adls.org.nz

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