KYIV - July 23, 2020. On the first day of May, an annual mentoring program was launched in Ukraine, initiated by the UBA Committee on International Law. Since then, the best professionals have worked with students and novice lawyers to work together to create a new generation of professional community.
On the eve of the new stage of the initiative, there was an unexpected surprise for its potential participants - the application period was extended until July 31. We decided to learn all about the mission, history of creation and the main nuances of the project, so that lawyers could have all the information to join the initiative. Three initiators of the project helped us to dig into this: Anna Bukvych (AB), Chair of the UBA Committee on International Law, Olga Kuchmienko (OK), Deputy Chair of the UBA Committee on International Law, Associate at Bombardier Transportation Sweden AB, and Oksana Varakina (OV), counsel at EQUITY Law Firm.
About the program in three words
AB: 1 - success. According to a well-known formula, the environment itself is 50% of your success. Other components are knowledge + experience (10%) and way of thinking (40%). We will work on all of them at the same time through personal communication with experienced mentors and other successful professionals in the legal market.
OK: 2 - support. In a rapidly changing world, it is very easy to lose focus on landmarks. The support of senior colleagues will help you find your own path to success and confidently follow it.
OV: 3 - unity. We all remember the capitalized truths: if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with the team. We choose big goals.
The idea of creation: the story of birth
Each of the three founders participated in or developed a mentoring project. The idea has already been tested in practice, but has not yet been implemented in Ukraine. The initiators believe that the future lies in teamwork, so such platforms are a matter of time.
Thus, Oksana Varakina and Olga Kuchmienko participated in the Young ICCA Mentoring Program under the guidance of some of the most famous and experienced arbitrators in the world. It was this experience that became an example that clearly demonstrates one's own benefit and the level of inspiration received. Some of the ideas and features of the program, the founders of the project took from there. Later, Olga started a mentoring program for students at Uppsala University (Sweden), where she became a guest lecturer. The program eventually became a roadmap for its implementation in Ukraine.
Anna Bukvych was the curator of the development of a similar program within the activities of the UBA Committee on International Law from 2018 to 2019:
“As you can see, this is how the stars aligned. Each of us with our own dreams and desire for continuous self-improvement is an integral part of this project,” said Ms. Bukvych.
The purpose of the Mentoring Program, according to Anna, is to build a platform for informal communication between the younger generation and experienced lawyers:
“The younger generation will be able to get answers to their questions, and mentors will be able to help them form the right guidelines and find their own career path. Therefore, if you want to be a part of an interesting and comfortable community, meet interesting people and find insights, then this program is waiting for you.”
About potential participants
AB: The mentoring program is designed for senior students and young lawyers who are just starting their careers with less than three years of experience. They are the key target audience. Importantly, that eligible to apply are not only students or lawyers working in the private sector. For example, among our mentors is Serhiy Petukhov, who will be able to share his experience in the civil service. Therefore, we will be glad to see among the participants and young professionals who work in government agencies or engage in community service.
A few details
OK: During the year, 3-4 participants will cooperate in a group with 1-2 mentors.
By agreeing to the role of mentor, the lawyer undertakes to attend the members of his group at least once a month. We would like the groups to communicate in a less formal format, for example, over lunch or coffee. In addition, we expect that the mentor will help to expand the circle of acquaintances by introducing participants to at least several colleagues - legal market specialists.
OV: By the way, as organizers of the program, we plan to hold informal events for all participants at least once a quarter to promote closer communication.
Mentoring: how does it work?
OV: Mentors are partners, counsels and senior lawyers. Each forms a group of about four people, taking into account their own specialization and professional interests of the participants. During the year, each member of the group will constantly work with a mentor, participate in meetings, assist in conducting research, preparing projects, writing articles (and this is optional).
OK: I would like to emphasize that the most important component is individual communication. The participant will always be able to consult with a mentor, ask for professional advice. A mentor is a kind of a teacher who promotes the professional and personal growth of the participant. We are also planning joint activities for all groups of mentors to gradually form a community of like-minded people to share experiences.
About the timing of applications
AB: Application period was extended until July 31. Potential participants do not have much time left!
Why these mentors were chosen?
OV: Our goal is maximum diversity, so that each participant has the opportunity to choose a mentor “to his liking”. The formation of the list was influenced by the coincidence of two components - compliance with the requirements for experience and the direct desire of the mentor to share their experience in the program. It is important for us that mentors are also interested in educating a new generation of lawyers, sharing experiences, investing their time and enjoying it. The program will launch in September, and we think that the number of mentors and participants will only increase later.
OK: And we are very glad that we managed to form a unique team of mentors, to cover almost all specializations and professional experience. Yes, we have mentors from classic Ukrainian and foreign law firms, big four companies, civil service and independent consultants.
AB: By the way, all mentors respond to the invitation very positively and as actively as possible. Many of them are interested in when the program starts, when we will start working and are looking forward to meeting with their wards. We are convinced that the most valuable thing that our mentors can give to the participants is their experience and support on the way to their dreams.
Online vs offline
OK: The program will use both formats. First, it all depends on the mentor and the participant together. Maximum freedom will prevail here: the participants independently agree on the format of work. If this is a classic offline format, fine. Online is okay too! The main thing is to maintain communication and get the most out of this opportunity.
OV: In addition, online meetings will be held for prompt communication, meetings with mentors who are outside Ukraine, etc. We will find an opportunity for live communication.
Why join now? The only answer from the founders of the project
AB: Knowledge, skills, expertise and the ability to be an effective manager are the essential foundations of the legal profession. Sometimes it is difficult for young lawyers to understand how these roles could be combined or to prioritize the distribution of efforts between them. Our mentors will individually help to find answers to questions and inspire success and work.