I have seen quite a lot of discussion recently about how easy it is to return to work after a career break, most commonly after a few years out bringing up children, so I wanted to spread some encouragement and say that it does appear to be happening more frequently now than in previous years.
Your chance of success in returning to a job in private practice to some extent depends on your specialism. If you have a highly sought after discipline, for example commercial property or corporate, then your return to life as a solicitor will be particularly welcomed as there are plenty of jobs in these specialist areas but, due to the recession, a shortage of candidates with the required skills set. These, and other non-contentious disciplines, such as private client (wills and probate) or commercial, tend to be less affected with the passing of time so, although there may be a new statute to get your head around (the Companies Act 2006 springs to mind as being a recent piece of legislation that a corporate solicitor returning to work had to familiarise themselves with), I am sure with a little bed time reading you will feel relatively confident and back up to speed.
Contentious disciplines are slightly harder to return to after a break for two main reasons. Firstly, case law is ever changing so you really do need to try and keep yourself up to speed by reading legal press whilst you are out of the law to try and make your return that bit easier, and secondly, there are fewer contentious jobs on the market at present hence the candidate pool employers are able to choose from is much bigger therefore, as there are more candidates available for each role, firms will inevitably choose someone with current experience if at all possible.
There are various courses on offer which might be worth considering if you wish to return to private practice. Not only will attending such a course obviously help refresh your memory in a practical sense, it will indicate your commitment to your return to the law to a future employer which can only be a good thing. These courses could also help you change discipline if you decide you now want to seek a non-contentious position after a previous life as a litigator – you never realised how important that six months’ seat in commercial property during your training contract would turn out to be!
It is also worth considering what you have been doing with your time whilst you have been away from the law. You could well have been utilising useful business skills such as marketing, networking and general business development whilst helping out on the pre-school fund-raising committee or your local primary school’s PTA. All these ‘soft’ skills will prove equally important in securing your successful return to the legal arena.
If you are considering a return to the law and would like to have a conversation in complete confidence to discuss your options, please give me, Tracy Harris at BCL Legal, a call. I place solicitors and legal executives at all levels into private practice across the South Midlands, Home Counties and Thames Valley areas (Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Surrey, Wiltshire and Hampshire) in a wide range of disciplines to include commercial property, property litigation, commercial litigation, construction and family law.
Having recently placed the corporate solicitor referred to above in the Thames Valley after they had been out of the law for nine years, I would love to be able to do the same for your career!