A BUSINESS mentoring programme aimed at in-house lawyers is making its services available in Scotland for the first time, giving those working in in-house departments the chance to connect with their counterparts around the world.

Mosaic was initially launched in 2015 by in-house lawyers Claire Debney and Emma Sharpe, who met while the former was head of group legal affairs and the latter was a director in the legal department of consumer goods company Reckitt Benckiser.

Though they said right from the off that the organisation would serve the in-house legal community only, the scope of the project was limited by the fact that Ms Debney and Ms Sharpe did all the matching of mentors and mentees themselves. This meant the service could only realistically function in and around the London area because, as Ms Debney said, “we were committed, but two humans can only do so much”.

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Now, having received some financial backing at the end of last year, the platform has invested in software from a US company that focuses specifically on the mentoring space and has relaunched as a technology-driven service.

Because of this, it is possible for Mosaic to be made available to a far wider base of in-housers, with Ms Debney noting that it is keen to sign up Scottish lawyers looking for guidance as mentees as well as those looking to offer it as mentors.

“We’re very keen to have this work in Scotland; technology has no boundaries,” she said.

Like the Law Society of England and Wales, the Law Society of Scotland runs its own mentoring schemes, with one focused on those entering the profession as trainees and the other on those looking to develop their career.

Ms Debney said that while those and the Mosaic version “do not have to be mutually exclusive” she believes Mosaic brings “a different perspective” because it is focused solely on those working in an in-house environment.

“We’re looking at the in-house market, where we feel there are different challenges, and for some counsel it’s a way of getting access to someone they would never have the opportunity to meet,” she said.

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“There’s a very fine line between mentoring and counselling and we’re not asking anyone to be therapists. It’s about talking to someone who has been through what you’re going through before and just gets it.”

Both Ms Debney and Ms Sharpe serve as mentors on the scheme and are convinced that those doing the mentoring have just as much to gain from the process as those being mentored.

“There’s this misconception that it’s a one-way thing but I’ve learned so much from my mentee over the years,” Ms Debney said. “It gives you a perspective on how to give guidance as well as the ability to help shape someone's career.”

Notably, several of the mentees who signed up to the initial version of Mosaic have returned to the organisation as mentors in its latest guise.

“There’s no reason why, once you’re in it, you’re not in it for life,” Ms Sharpe said. “People need mentors at different points in their career, whether it’s peer to peer, senior to junior or junior to senior. It all depends on what your goals and objectives are.

“One thing Claire and I did was speak to interested parties like recruitment consultants and law firms to find out what has been going on in mentoring and it seems that usually it’s reserved for very senior people who are being mentored for the board or for becoming a general counsel.

“We think mentoring should start from day one, before you know where you are going.”

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Mentees, who pay an annual fee to join Mosaic, can either have the software match them with a mentor or they can search the database to find someone they would like to be paired with.

In-house lawyers from organisations including the BBC, Visa, Centrica, Lego and Ocado have already signed up, with mentors and mentees choosing whether to build their relationship via the phone, on Skype or, if geography allows, in person.

“We want everyone to own their career journey and this allows it to happen for anyone, anywhere at any time,” Ms Debney said. “The technology has allowed us to break down those barriers.”