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In the last few years, legal firms and other employers of solicitors have woken up to an untapped recruiting opportunity - the neglected pool of legal professionals who have taken a long career break.
These are the solicitors available who trained and worked for five to 15 years before stepping off the career ladder. There are a myriad of reasons for career breaks, mainly childcare or eldercare but also health and relocation.
Returners can face bias when they apply for jobs. Candidates without recent experience are seen as ‘risky hires’ and mothers who took a break for childcare can be stereotyped as less committed. As a result, returners can sometimes have difficulty with how employers hire.
Returner solicitors are a highly-skilled talent pool. Hiring returners can improve gender diversity and reduce the gender pay gap. The Returners Programme at Law Society of Ireland is open to all genders, but 90% of the people who take caring-related breaks are women. Returners provide diversity of age and experience, bringing maturity, enthusiasm, a fresh perspective and the wealth of new skills developed during their career breaks.
Hiring returners also communicates that the organisation recognises that careers don’t always follow a linear path and that valuable skills are not only developed in the workplace. Enabling solicitors to re-establish in work is not only good for society and the economy; it’s also good for business.
The Career Support service at Law Society of Ireland is set to run its Returners Programme again - starting on Tuesday 24 September 2019. This initiative is aimed at supporting people who are seeking to return to legal work after an extended career break (most commonly taken because of family care responsibilities).
The programme involves a series of workshops held, one morning a week, for six weeks. The workshops will take place in Blackhall Place but people living outside Dublin can be accommodated with a distance programme option.
The workshops are structured to assist solicitors to meet regulatory obligations they will face in returning to work after a significant time away. The workshops also help everyone involved to prepare for taking on extended responsibilities – in addition to family care responsibilities.
How will I benefit from the returners programme?
Programme Participants are facilitated to effectively manage demands on their time, to accommodate personal priorities and to identify job market opportunities that align with what they are looking for career-wise.
The workshops assist participants to address matters that are critical to success in a return to work situation. In the workshops, participants will be supported to:
The programme will help you to:
Solicitors who would like to participate in this Returners Programme commencing on 24 September are asked to email: firstname.lastname@example.org in order to register their interest.
Keith O’Malley is Head of Career Support and Practitioner Support at Law Society of Ireland
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