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Returning to law after a career break

Steps to get back into law

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.

Find opportunities on Law Gazette Jobs

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.

See a list of women’s networking groups

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.

Be resilient

Keep applying for suitable roles and ask for feedback if you have not been successful.

Routes back into law

To help you plan the next stage in your career, you can:

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.

Your practising certificate

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.

Read the SRA guidance on how to restore your name to the roll

Renew your practising certificate

Once you’re on the roll of solicitors, you can renew your practising certificate.

Download the SRA guidance on individual practising certificate renewals

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.

See our information on continuing competence

Resources

Reignite Academy – The Reignite Academy provides opportunities for lawyers to return to work after a career break, through tailored returnship programmes and direct recruitment.

Case study: the challenges of maternity leave for female solicitors

SRA guidance: Do I need a practising certificate?

Women Returners Professional Network resources

Gazette feature: New year, new career: career planning for 2021

Webinars

Changing career direction: Recharge webinar (81 minutes) 

An overview of the legal jobs market during COVID-19 (6 minutes)

Marketing yourself: recharge webinar (96 minutes)

Career planning for 2021, Q&A with JMC Legal Recruitment (62 minutes)

Step-by-step guide to returning to the profession following a career break: recharge webinar (90 minutes)

Podcasts

Recharge: Impressing at interview when returning after a career break (18 minutes)

How to sell yourself as a candidate with JMC Legal Recruitment (38 minutes)

Events 

Webinar: Changing career direction – what are my realistic options? (22 April 2021)

This webinar is designed to support individuals, across all levels of post-qualified experience (PQE), who are seeking to return to the profession following a career break. It is also designed to support those considering changing career direction or seeking re-invention.

Date: 22 April 2021
Time: 2pm to 3.30pm
Cost: free
Location: online


Live career Q&A: How to create a compelling legal job application in 2021 (6 May 2021)

Clayton Legal logo

At this event, legal recruitment experts Clayton Legal will help you understand how to land your next legal job; from tips to enhance your CV, to the principles of writing a great cover letter – all in an informal live Q&A format.

Date: 6 May 2021
Time: 10am to 11am
Cost: free
Location: online


Recharge webinar: Skills audit for returning to the profession (13 May 2021)

This free webinar is for individuals across all levels of PQE who are seeking to return to law following a career break, or those considering changing career direction.

Date: 13 May 2021
Time: 2pm to 3.30pm
Cost: free
Location: online