Reverse Mentoring in the Legal Workplace

Exploring reverse mentoring as a tool to support wellbeing and inclusion in legal workplaces.

In this session from the Advancing Wellness in Law Network, Rachael O’ Connor and Kayleigh Leonie will share initial findings from a reverse mentoring project undertaken in partnership between the University of Leeds and legal mental health and wellbeing charity, LawCare. Building on Rachael’s research on reverse mentoring in the higher education context to amplify under-represented voices and develop authentic staff/student relationships and understanding, we utilised reverse mentoring in this project as a vehicle to explore issues relating to mental health/wellbeing and inclusion from the research study relating to wellbeing of lawyers from under-represented backgrounds. The project involved 63 participants from four law firms. Junior mentor participants mentored senior leaders/supervisors within the firms. Junior mentors included aspiring lawyers (current students) and those currently in different junior level roles within the participating law firms. Mentees in senior roles included those who had at least five years’ experience of supervising junior lawyers. A key focus of the study was to explore how issues relating to wellbeing and inclusion can be better embedded into the training and support offered to aspiring and junior lawyers.
Rachael O’Connor (she/her) is the University of Leeds’ Academic Lead for Personal Tutoring and Associate Professor in the School of Law. Rachael is also a trustee of LawCare and a non-practising solicitor. She comes from a working-class background and was a first-generation student. Her research focuses on reverse mentoring, amplifying and empowering under-represented identities in elite spaces and building authentic relationships across hierarchical divides, including staff and students within higher education.
Kayleigh Leonie is a solicitor at a silver-circle firm specialising in employment law and a trustee of LawCare. Having experienced mental health challenges since she was a child, Kayleigh is passionate about positive mental health and wellbeing in the legal profession. She has undertaken research, written articles and published best practice guidance on supporting wellbeing in the profession on behalf of The Law Society of England and Wales.

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