The SLSA Pilot Mentoring Scheme ran from October 2023-April 2024. The scheme was launched because our 2022 EDI Survey highlighted the need to improve community inclusion and diversity by creating channels for the transfer of knowledge from more established socio-legal scholars to those in earlier stages of their careers or those wishing to return following career breaks. The purpose of the scheme is to provide support for those who may face structural disadvantage in their academic careers in line with our EDI and anti-precarity commitments. We also value the opportunity for ‘reverse mentoring’, whereby more senior members learn from colleagues who are building socio-legal careers in the current environment.

The Pilot Scheme generated lots of interest and the number of eligible applicants exceeded scheme capacity. Ten mentees were selected through a lottery and matched with mentors. The Pilot Scheme kicked off with a plenary session in October, continued with one-to-one meetings, and concluded at the SLSA Conference at the University of Portsmouth in April 2024.

Feedback on the scheme was collected from both mentors and mentees and reviewed by the EDI sub-committee. Overall, the mentees were very happy with the scheme, all saying that they found it a positive experience and that they would recommend it to others. Some issues were raised in relation to setting clear expectations about the purpose of the scheme and the role of a mentor, the short duration of the pilot, and the lack of opportunities to meet other mentees.

With this in mind, we are making some small changes to the scheme for the coming year:

  • PhD students will only be eligible to apply if they are nearing submission;
  • The scheme will run for twelve months (October 2024 to September 2025) to ease the time pressures faced by academics during teaching semesters and to enable ongoing relationships;
  • The annual SLSA conference will no longer be the end point of the scheme, but will provide an additional opportunity for mentors and mentees to meet. A drop-in session will be scheduled during the SLSA 2025 conference in Liverpool for this purpose. Mentees will again be eligible to submit an application to the conference bursary scheme apply for a fee waiver, but an inability to attend the conference should not be a barrier to participating in the scheme;
  • We are supplementing the 1-1 meetings during the year with two plenary workshops focussed on 1) publishing and 2) impact and funding. This will provide further capacity, community and network building opportunities for scheme participants.

The call for mentees for 2024/25 academic year will close on 31st July 2024.

If you are an established socio-legal scholar and would like to be a mentor on the scheme, please send a short expression of interest, outlining your relevant experience and areas of expertise (such as research, teaching, editorial roles, publications, impact, funding, network building) to admin@slsa.ac.uk.

Please direct any questions to mentoring@slsa.ac.uk