Career breaks are becoming increasingly common, and accepted, in the legal sector and are occurring for a variety of reasons from parental leave, further studies, travel (although less-so recently), attending to family needs, sickness, burnout, mental health reasons or a change in career path.
When looking to return into the legal sector many candidates are unsure how to approach talking about this on their CV or with potential employers in an interview, particularly if there is sensitivity around the situation. Our recommendation is to honestly explain the break in your cover letter or when face to face. You can do this at a high level, but being transparent and communicating honestly is the key as most employers tend to be understanding of people's personal situations and how that may impact on their career at a particular point in time. A recruiter is immensely valuable in this interaction as they can advocate for you and position your career break to your advantage, giving advice about how best to communicate the reason behind your break especially where it may be a sensitive topic.
The current talent shortage in the legal sector means both in-house legal and law firms are much more open to hiring trained lawyers returning from career breaks, a welcomed change. Depending on how long you have been on a career break for, it's also heartening to understand that firms have had to make some changes over the last few years, many spurred on by COVID, there is more flexibility and balance on offer than ever before. When applying for roles consider both your professional and personal goals and ensure that you are seeking roles that suit your lifestyle. One option in re-entering law is looking at any contract roles - this is beneficial on many levels as it gives you relevant and recent experience to build from for your next opportunity and reduces the risk for both you and the employer to see how the role goes before committing longer term. The longer you have been out of the legal market, the more flexible you might need to be on your salary expectations (e.g.starting at a lower salary than when you left the legal profession) to account for the fact that there will be a period of getting back up to speed with changes in the law and the area you'll be practising in. This isn't to say that decent salary increases aren't possible once you've refreshed your knowledge and skills in the area you’re practising in. Firms are eager to get good people on board and know that legal skills are like riding a bike in terms of picking them up again.
If you are on a career break and thinking about returning to a role as a lawyer get in touch with the Specialist recruiters at CoLegal to help you in your transition.