Why this opportunity might be right up your street!
This year saw ten women - nine of them mothers - return to work with four city law firms through our inaugural Reignite Academy programme. We were so inspired by the quality of the women we placed that we decided to repeat the exercise and set about finding more law firms who were willing to join us to help more people reignite their careers.
A further eight firms soon joined and now we’re looking for candidates interested in joining the next programme. What does a typical candidate look like? The short answer: there is no such thing. Those returning - and in our initial cohort they are all women - range in experience from one year PQE to over 20; they cover disciplines including corporate, banking and finance, regulatory, tax, commercial, employment and real estate.
Manjit began her career as a TV presenter before training as a lawyer with a city firm. She worked as in house counsel for a music company and for a large telco, covering IP, commercial, consumer regulations, branding and advertising, amassing four years’ PQE prior to taking what would become a 10 year break from the law.
Two of the more experienced candidates each have eight and twenty-plus years’ PQE. One is a banking and finance lawyer, who left a city career to go in house before going freelance. The other is a commercial lawyer with experience working for city firms and as in house counsel.
At the other end of the spectrum, Elizabeth had two years’ post qualification experience, working as a corporate lawyer for a magic circle firm, including a stint in Brussels. She had a 17 year break away from the city and is now in the corporate department at Orrick.
Whilst they are a very diverse group, they do have something in common: grit, determination and ambition; they are raring to go. We asked the group for any advice they’d pass on to anyone considering the programme. Here are some of their tips:
- Your earlier experience and training hasn’t disappeared. Yes, some things have changed in the law but much hasn’t. And as a lawyer, you’re used to checking things and looking things up. Don’t worry about hitting the ground running on day 1. The whole point of the programme is to provide you with time to get back up to speed.
- Have an eye to the future. Think about where you’d like to be in five years, ten years not just six months from now. As they say on the reality TV shows, it’s a journey.
- Yes, you’ll be working with colleagues and people in more senior positions who are often much younger than you. It’s no big deal and they sometimes find it stranger than you - let them know it’s OK to delegate things to you.
- Value what you are bringing to the party: your networks, your maturity, your experience, your wisdom.
- Having a coach is a privilege. Use them wisely.
- You’re not on your own. Although the ten women in the pilot work across four different firms, they do stay together as a cohort and regularly communicate and encourage each other.
- Dictaphones are out. Document management systems are in: don’t worry, they’re not difficult to learn, it’s just different.
I’ll leave the last words to Manjit, who joined CMS in January:
“This is an incredible opportunity to get my city career back on track: everyone involved has been able to see beyond what looks like a strangely shaped CV and unusual career path. And yet for me, taking a break enabled me to come back stronger. I’m grateful for the chance and can’t wait to get started.”
Have a look at current returnship opportunities here.