A pilot project geared towards getting lawyers back into the legal profession following a career break is being launched this week in Leeds.
Women Returners, a network organisation which helps women return to work after an extended break, is working with the Government, the Law Society and employers in Leeds to help women and men return to the legal sector.
The Law Returners programme, funded by the Government Equalities Office Returners Fund, is offering paid professional ‘returnship’ placements and 20 law firms in Leeds and Manchester have signed up to participate in the programme.
Places will be offered to both women and men although it is anticipated that the majority of applicants will be female, as over nine out of ten workplace returners are women.
Julianne Miles, inset, managing director of Women Returners, said: “It can be very daunting trying to get back into work after a long career break. Many people who are highly skilled, well-qualified and with considerable business experience struggle to find the right opportunities.
“Following the rapid growth of returner programmes in sectors such as financial services, telecoms and construction, it was an obvious next step to extend a concept with proven success into the law sector.
“The concept of returnships is less established in the North of England. But interest in the programme has been high, with 20 law firms, large and small, signing up for this pilot programme.”
Bailoran Solicitors, Barton Legal, DAC Beachcroft, Emsleys Solicitors, Northone Solicitors, Pinsent Masons, Robinson Ralph, Squire Patton Boggs and Tapestry Compliance have all signed up to the programme in Leeds.
Sue Jenkins, talent partner at DAC Beachcroft, said: “Our experience of people joining us after career breaks has been really positive and we recognise that this is a high calibre talent pool that we want to attract.”
She added: “We understand that returning can be a daunting prospect but there is plenty of support in place, including help from fellow returners.”
A launch event is being held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Leeds on November 15.
Prospective returners will be provided information on the programme and given an opportunity to network informally with potential employers.
Applications to the programme close on November 25 and people don’t have to attend the launch to apply. Successful candidates for Law Returners will benefit from a paid six-month professional placement, starting in February 2019.
They will receive coaching from Women Returners, an internal mentor, technical support and mentoring from the Law Society and a peer support group.
To register for the launch event visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/law-returners-leeds-tickets-50399935564
Returnships offer a path
A returnship is a paid higher-level internship for returning professionals. The first UK returnships were in London in 2014.
The pilot programme aiming to kick-start returnships in the legal sector. If successful, it will be extended to other regions in the future.
Hazel Little, coaching and programme manager, Women Returners, said: “These placements give both returnees and businesses the opportunity to test whether it’s the right move in a low-risk, supportive environment.”