General Reading Period Information
All readers must have a mentor and will have a senior mentor during their reading period.
For the seven months following the readers’ course, your primary place of business will be in your mentor’s chambers, which you shall occupy rent free while you receive briefs and build your practice.
What is a mentor?
According to the reading regulations, a mentor must:
- not be a Queen’s Counsel or senior counsel at the commencement of the reading period;
- must be in active practice and a member of the Victorian Bar; and
- must have no less than 10 years standing on the Bar Roll by the end of the reading period.
How do I get a mentor?
It is up to you to approach the barrister who you would like to be your mentor. If you have difficulty in securing a mentor, the Bar Office may be able to assist you. However, we strongly recommend you conduct your own enquiries before turning to us.
What should I look for in a mentor?
Some barristers and clerks we have spoken to suggest the following:
- Choose a mentor who works primarily in the practice area that you are interested in practising in
- Choose someone you have briefed and enjoyed working with, or who comes recommended by other solicitors or barristers
- Find out whether the potential mentor will be available to oversee your reading period
- Choose someone who has a compatible personality with yours – you will be seeing a lot of each other!
When do I need to find a mentor?
You should begin thinking about a mentor around the same time you decide you will sit the readers’ course exam. Some mentors are very popular and will need to be approached early on. Once you are offered a place into the reader’s course you should seek a commitment from your potential mentor as soon as you can.
What can I expect from my mentor?
Your mentor is responsible for setting you up with an appropriate workspace in their chambers, for showing you around the facilities and introducing you to other barristers Operating in an “open door” environment, your mentor is your first point for advice on your briefs, no matter how basic that advice is or how silly your questions feel, your mentor will attempt to assist you.
Your mentor will likely introduce you to other barristers and solicitors in your chosen field. Depending on your work load, they may also involve you in their work – perhaps you will read some of their briefs or undertake preparatory work in some of their matters. This work should not interfere with your own briefs and should not take place until you have completed the reader’s course (which is your top priority for your first two months at the Bar).
You should not perform administrative work or run errands for your mentor.
What happens at the end of the reading period?
You will need to move into your own chambers, or alternatively share chambers with another barrister. The bar offers chambers to barristers on a monthly tenancy basis and will assist you, through Barristers Chambers Ltd, to find appropriate accommodation.
What is a senior mentor?
In 2000, the Bar introduced a senior mentoring scheme. A senior mentor is a silk who offers additional support and opportunities for the reader to expand their contacts at the bar.
How do I get a senior mentor?
At the end of the reader’s course all readers are allocated to a senior mentor. The senior mentor is usually nominated by the primary mentor and may be:
- The primary mentor’s mentor when they were a reader
- Someone on the same floor as the primary mentor
- Someone with whom the primary mentor regularly works
- Someone who has an interest in the same practice area as the reader
What can I expect from my senior mentor?
A senior mentor will provide another source of advice and networking opportunities for the reader. They do not take over any of the functions of the primary mentor. Senior mentors and reader are encouraged to keep in regular informal contact.