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.

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