Returning to law after a career break
Get up to date
Keep your knowledge and skills up to date by:
- researching your industry
- following potential employers on LinkedIn and Twitter
- taking part in returner courses
If you have any gaps in your experience, use your contacts to help you find a work placement, volunteer or do freelance, interim or temp work.
Review your skills
Ask friends, family and your contacts for feedback on what you're good at, with specific examples. Shortlist a handful of achievements that you’re proud of.
You’ll have developed transferable skills from having a career break, such as being agile (managing your work and personal priorities) and being able to deal with change.
Update your profile
Highlight your achievements in your CV, starting with your pre-break experience. Make it clear that you took a career break and include periods of study or volunteering. Explain what you're looking for when you return to work.
You should also update your LinkedIn profile. This will help recruiters and hiring managers find you and determine your suitability for a role.
Prepare to network
Networking is important when returning to law. Experiment with different networking groups and build relationships. Keep a record of who you’ve spoken to and follow up where appropriate.
Reconnect with former contacts, for example, using LinkedIn.
Create an impression
Get business cards printed and have your elevator pitch (an introduction that says who you are, what you do well, and shows off your unique selling points) ready. You need to make an impact in around a minute – first impressions count.
Our Back to Law ambassadors give tips on creating elevator pitches.
Keep applying for suitable roles and ask for feedback if you have not been successful.
To help you plan the next stage in your career, you can:
- attend our returner courses
- read about the experiences of our Back to Law Ambassadors
- be matched with a mentor who successfully returned to law after a career break by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org about the mentoring programme
Consider all areas of law and find the right environment to suit you. For a better work/life balance, see flexible working options.
If you’re returning to your previous role, you may want to consider your career options as a solicitor.
If you’re looking for a new role, you may want to change career direction.
A practising certificate lasts for 12 months. You must have a current practising certificate before you can offer your services as a solicitor.
Applying for a practising certificate
Restore your name to the roll of solicitors
You need to be on the roll of solicitors before you can apply for a practising certificate.
If you’re not on the roll, you can apply to restore your name through your mySRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority) account. The fee is £20.
Renew your practising certificate
Once you’re on the roll of solicitors, you can renew your practising certificate.
Prove you can practise
You must prove that you’re competent to practise by meeting the competencies set out in the competence statement. It’s made up of three parts:
You no longer need to count continuing professional development hours.
Reignite Academy – The Reignite Academy provides opportunities for lawyers to return to work after a career break, through tailored returnship programmes and direct recruitment.
Recharge: the dos vs don'ts when planning your return to the legal profession (Tuesday 16 January 2024)
This free panel discussion with Q&A is aimed at individuals seeking inspiration and advice for returning to the legal profession after a lengthy career hiatus.
Hear from a panel of guest speakers who have successfully returned to private practice or an in-house role, who will share tips based on their personal journey back to law.
- Recharge: job searching techniques
- Recharge: interview tips
- Recharge: My experience of being back in the workplace as a returner (90 minutes)
- Navigating your return to the profession (90 minutes)
- Confidence building (90 minutes)
- How to navigate the job market as a returner (46 minutes)
- Changing career direction (81 minutes)
- Marketing yourself (96 minutes)
- How to turn you career ideas into action (90 minutes)
- Networking tips for job hunters (90 minutes)
Changing career direction series:
- Considering working as a consultant / freelance lawyer? Understanding this flexible approach to working (60 minutes)
- Career options (60 minutes)
- What are my realistic options? (90 minutes)
- Options outside of practice (90 minutes)
- Hear from those who have successfully transformed their career (90 minutes)
- Virtual group career coaching for those returning or changing careers (120 minutes)
- Skills audit for returning to the profession following a career break (93 minutes)
- A conversation on returning to work and working flexibly (90 minutes)