Friday, April 06, 2007


UC Hastings "Opting Back In" program: Success Stories and Lessons Learned

PAR has now completed two 8-week "Opting Back In and Forging Ahead" sessions at UC Hastings College of the Law for attorneys who left law for a year or more and want to return to the legal workplace. Program Director Linda Marks reports "The program exceeded our expectations." Here are some of the Success Stories:

1) Some participants already have work. Among them are an attorney who ...
- ... was away from practice for 16 1/2 years and is now a 60% associate position at a large international firm;
- ... kept one foot in the profession through volunteer mediation work and was hired as a full-time tradmark associate by a prominent national litigation firm;
- ... found out about a Regional Counsel position at an insurance company through the Opting Back In program and was hired for that position recently.
- ... is pregnant with her third child and is doing contract work at a mid-size firm with the hope of part-time work on her return.
- ... wanted part-time work and is providing maternity leave coverage at a community law center with the hope of part-time or job sharing later.

2) Employers are showing interest:
- "We should be actively recruiting these attorneys"
- "We're putting together a program to help attorneys come back."
- "I'm going to tell everyone about this great recruiting source."
- "These attorneys are mature and less of a flight risk."

3) There's lots of media interest.

4) Alumni of the program are now part of a Yahoo Group, sharing ideas and resources.

And here are some Lessons Learned:

1) It's all about networking. Most of the attorneys in the program who found jobs did so by getting known in the hidden job market. Need speakers? Network for them.

2) Group members love feeling supported and part of a community. That's why they asked for the Yahoo group.

3) Having the backing and resources of a law school like UC Hastings is wonderful. The program succeeded with the help of Hastings', Career Services, Alumni Relations, the Civil Justice Clinic, several wonderful librarians and, of course, the Dean.

4) There's a talented group of attorneys who don't want to work full-time in big firms. It's time to change the workplace so it meets the needs of its workers.

The next Opting Back In program is scheduled for October-November 2007.


Monday, April 02, 2007


PAR launches the PAR Law School Project

To kick off PAR’s Law School Project, PAR co-director Joan Williams spoke at two events last week: a law student event for the Women’s Bar Association of the District of Columbia, and the Ms. J.D. conference at Yale Law School. PAR’s Law School project is designed to help legal employers respond effectively to the desire of many law students for legal jobs that offer both the opportunity to practice law at the highest level and the opportunity for work/life balance.

One resource for law students is How to Find a Job that Allows for Work/Life Balance, co-written by PAR and the Stanford Law School Office of Career Services.

Another is PAR’s Mythbusters, which provides hard data to bust nine key myths about work/life balance in the legal profession:

Myth 1: Work/life balance is a women’s issue.
Myth 2: Law firms are trying hard, but the problems of retaining women and offering work/life balance are too intractable.
Myth 3: Law firms lose money on part-timers.
Myth 4: You can tell whether you will be able to work part-time by checking a law firm’s website.
Myth 5: Going “in house” is the way to achieve balance.
Myth 6: Going into the government or public interest law is the way to achieve balance.
Myth 7: “I’ll just take off a year or two when I have my kids, and then I’ll go back to practicing law.”
Myth 8: Work/life balance is inconsistent with the practice of law at the highest levels.
Myth 9: Young lawyers say they want work/life balance, but when the chips are down they really want the highest possible salary.

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