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Legal professionals re-entering the workforce: options, skills and true value for employers

There are many reasons why lawyers take time away from the workforce. The most frequent reasons identified [1] by lawyers for leaving the workforce are to achieve:

  • better work-life balance;
  • reduced stress and pressure;
  • more flexibility to manage their work and personal responsibilities.

When lawyers were asked if they would consider working as a lawyer again in the future, almost one half (48%) said ‘yes’, and an additional one third (36%) said they ‘might’ [2].

What does this mean for the legal profession?

Re-entry of lawyers into the legal profession has long been of critical importance to maintaining a thriving workforce, and it remains so today. Back in 2007 Deborah Epstein Henry at Flex-Time Lawyers LLC laid out some key recommendations for legal employers in responding to this challenge, and ten years on they are as relevent as ever:

  1. Secure the relationship with talented lawyers who are considering leaving;
  2. Maintain the relationship with talented lawyers who have left;
  3. Invest in bringing both alumni and other lawyers back to work; and
  4. Ensure the successful transition of lawyers back to practice.

What does this mean if you are a lawyer looking to re-enter the workforce?

  • Identify what type of work you are looking for. There are many more options available than just full time work. For example, are you seeking to be engaged by a law firm to work on a specific transaction for a specific duration?
  • Be clear and specific about what your legal experience is in relation to the job you are seeking.
  • Let an employer know the skills you have gained in your time away. For example, you may have done some volunteer or pro bono work.
  • Stay connected. Don’t underestimate the importance of your network. When you are re-entering the workforce you want to tell as many people as you can that you are coming back. Your network can vouch for you and support your re-entry.
  • Lastly, don’t underestimate what you are worth as hiring a re-entry lawyer is a financially beneficial decision for an employer.


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[1] Law Council of Australia, National Attrition and Re-engagement Study (NARS) Report, page 57

[2] Law Council of Australia, National Attrition and Re-engagement Study (NARS) Report, page 60

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