UCL Laws holds first Laws Speed Networking event
12 March 2020
The event, organised in conjunction with Office of the Vice-Provost (Advancement), was an opportunity for UCL Laws students to connect with Laws alumni and learn more about their experiences.
On Tuesday 3 March, the first Laws Speed Networking event was held in the main UCL campus, where recent UCL Laws alumni were invited to share their professional insights with current students.
The event celebrated the mentor/mentee relationships created by the ongoing UCL Careers Mentoring Programme, which OVPA created in partnership with UCL Laws at the end of last year. Attendees heard speeches from mentors and mentees, who highlighted their invaluable learning experience as part of the programme.
LLB and LLM students were then given the opportunity to ask alumni about their career paths and experiences after graduating in an informal small group setting. This was followed by a networking session, where students spoke with likeminded peers.
Aakanksha Bhola, a UCL Laws LLM student who attended the event, said: "This was an especially insightful event. Because the professionals were UCL alumni, it was easier to speak with them, with the conversation being less formal and more candid. As an international student, I always appreciate occasions where I can learn more about the legal profession in the UK and the opportunities available here."
You can read speeches delivered by the mentors and mentees on the night below.
Ravi Aswani with Naomi Ng
Naomi Ng - UCL Laws LLB student and mentee:
When I was asked to say a few words on the new UCL Law Mentoring Programme, I immediately thought about the reasons I applied for it. Reasons like understanding more about a mentor’s career path, the reasons for their job choice and to gain insight all came to mind.
And I can say that my experience with my wonderful mentor — Ravi Aswani — has exceeded my expectations. The experience to learn from someone who’s had years of experience at the Bar, and to have someone answer any question you have, even if you think it’s insignificant, has been invaluable. It has especially useful to find out more from a first-hand perspective, especially as university career events often tend to be focused on solicitors. However, it requires more research on your part to understand the path to the Bar and what it entails, and how it might evolve in years to come. This programme has shed light on the field, and I’ve learnt much about the Bar, and have even had the chance to attend an Arsenal football game.
If you’re thinking about giving it a go, I highly recommend this programme - the chance to meet someone who has walked the path ahead of me has been invaluable, and it has played a key role in informing my decision making. I am confident the lessons I have learnt so far will carry on with into the future.
Ravi Aswani - Barrister at 36 Stone, UCL Laws alumnus and mentor - on ‘The Benefits of Mentoring’
I would like to share with you a number of points which I consider to be the benefits of mentoring.
1. First, for those of us who have become focussed in our careers and busy with them, the opportunity for a friendship with someone from a different generation does not come around very often. Mentoring provides such an opportunity. It is fun! Naomi has already come to the Emirates Stadium with me on an occasion when my wife was unable to use her Arsenal season ticket, and we have also periodically met for coffees.
2. Second, mentoring provides both the mentor and mentee with the ability to have full and frank non-judgmental discussions with someone who brings a different perspective to the discussions. Again, the opportunities for such discussions tend to become more limited as we become more senior in our respective careers.
3. Third, whilst there are obvious benefits for mentees in terms of assistance with CV writing; general advice about work placements; and what the mentee might consider doing, there are also other less obvious benefits. Most of us become so busy with the day-to-day aspects of our careers that it is very easy to get out of the routine of periodically taking a step back and reflecting. Mentoring requires you to do that as a mentor in order to give meaningful advice to your mentee. As a mentor you are therefore given the opportunity to reflect upon your aims and aspirations when you started out in your career, what has gone well, what could have gone better, and how you have sought to improve yourself over the years. We sometimes forget that over the course of a career, all of us have learned a great deal that would be invaluable knowledge for someone at the fledging stage of their career. How many times have we all said to ourselves: “If only someone had told me that when I started out”?
4. Imagine having the opportunity of going back in time to give your younger self advice about your life experience, mistakes to avoid, opportunities not to miss etc. Obviously that is impossible, but mentoring gives you the next best thing which is being able to pass on this advice to someone starting out in their career who really can make use of it. I would like to think that during our various conversations I have passed on a few useful tips to Naomi which I never had any opportunity to receive from someone more senior and experienced when I was at her stage.
5. Fourth and finally, I would like to say something about the benefits for mentors which are sometimes overlooked in discussions about mentoring. Many people will have heard of the modern trend for “reverse mentoring”. For those who have not, reverse mentoring essentially involves the junior person in the mentoring relationship taking on the mentor role and the senior person taking on the mentee role. It has become very popular in recent years across various industries. It has been credited with providing a tangible opportunity for very senior people to gain some first-hand knowledge about the difficulties being experienced by new entrants to their profession, which they might otherwise not be able to relate to. Reverse mentoring initiatives, because they involve such senior people acting as mentees, are often used as part of wider equality, diversity, belonging and inclusion strategies. Whilst incredibly useful and beneficial, speaking personally, I don’t think there is anything fundamentally new in the concept of reverse mentoring. In my view all mentoring relationships should, if done effectively, involve an aspect of reverse mentoring. I will not go into specific details here. Suffice to say that on several occasions Naomi has (possibly inadvertently) given me incredibly useful insights and knowledge based on her approach to various things which is often different to mine (but of course no less valid).
I would encourage everyone whose interest has been piqued by listening to us to get involved. You will not regret it. I just wish that a scheme like this had been in place when I was a student!