Saturday, July 8, 2023

Returning to the Legal Profession After a Long Absence

I graduated from law school in 2013, but spent close to a decade out of the legal profession before deciding that I wanted to go back. To be honest, it was quite scary for me to go back. I wondered if being away for so long would hurt my chances of becoming a lawyer. Should I go back to school and get an LLM? I wondered what would be required of me to get back into the legal profession.

Returning to the legal profession after an absence can seem daunting, but it's not an insurmountable challenge. Whether you took a break to pursue other interests, raise a family, or explore new career paths, reentering the legal field is possible with the right strategies and mindset. In this article, we will explore effective ways to find a lawyer job after being out of the legal profession.

We have created a checklist to help you when you want to return to the legal profession after a long time away.

  1. 1. Update Your Skills and Knowledge:

The legal landscape is ever-evolving, and it's crucial to refresh your skills and knowledge to catch up with the latest developments. Attend legal seminars, workshops, and webinars to stay up to date on recent case law, changes in legislation, and emerging trends. Consider enrolling in continuing legal education courses or pursuing certifications to enhance your professional credentials. Demonstrating a commitment to ongoing learning will make you a more attractive candidate to potential employers.

  1. 2. Network, Network, Network:

Building a strong professional network is essential for any job search, especially if you've been out of the legal profession for some time. Reach out to former colleagues, classmates, and mentors to reconnect and update them on your career aspirations. Attend legal events, conferences, and local bar association meetings to meet new professionals in the field. Utilize online platforms such as LinkedIn to expand your network and join legal-focused groups and forums. Networking can provide valuable leads, referrals, and insights into job opportunities that may not be advertised publicly.

  1. 3. Seek Internships or Volunteer Opportunities:

Consider taking up internships or volunteering positions to gain practical experience and demonstrate your commitment to the legal field. This can be particularly useful if you are transitioning into a new legal area or if you've been out of practice for an extended period. Pro bono work can also help you establish new connections and showcase your dedication to serving the community. Internships and volunteer opportunities can lead to paid positions or help you gain recent references, which can boost your chances of securing a lawyer job.

  1. 4. Tailor Your Resume and Cover Letter:

When applying for legal positions, customize your resume and cover letter to highlight relevant skills, experience, and accomplishments. Emphasize transferrable skills gained during your time away from the legal profession, such as project management, research, or negotiation skills. Address any gaps in your work history in a positive and concise manner, focusing on the skills you acquired during that period. Tailoring your application materials demonstrates your commitment to the legal profession and shows potential employers how you can contribute to their organization.

  1. 5. Consider Temporary or Contract Positions:

Temporary or contract positions can serve as stepping stones to full-time employment. They allow you to gain recent legal experience, build new connections, and demonstrate your skills to potential employers. Consider working with legal staffing agencies that specialize in placing temporary or contract lawyers. These positions provide an opportunity to prove yourself, gain exposure to different legal environments, and potentially convert the role into a permanent position.

  1. 6. Leverage Online Job Resources:

Use online job boards, legal industry-specific websites, and professional legal associations to search for lawyer job openings. Many organizations post vacancies on their websites, and legal job boards aggregate positions from various sources. Regularly update your online profiles, such as LinkedIn, to reflect your current professional status and highlight your skills and experience. Engage in legal job-related discussions on professional forums to increase your visibility and connect with potential employers.

Remember, you don't have to advertise the year you graduated from law school on your resume. If you have little legal experience since graduating law school, feel free to leverage your law degree without drawing attention to the fact that you got it a long time ago. There are plenty of resources to help get regain the knowledge you may have forgot since you attended law school.

Returning to the legal profession after being out for a period may seem challenging, but it's certainly achievable with the right approach. Updating your skills, networking, gaining practical experience, tailoring your application materials, considering temporary positions, and leveraging online job resources are all effective strategies to find a lawyer job after being out of the legal profession. Stay positive, persistent, and proactive in your search, and you'll increase your chances of securing a fulfilling legal role that aligns with your career goals.

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