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Legal sector returnships pilot launches in Leeds

Pilot funded by Government pay gap pot will explore whether returnships can help people from the legal professions back into work after a career break.

Legal sector returnships pilot launches in Leeds

"It can be very daunting trying to get back into work after a long career break"
Julianne Miles, Women Returners

Women Returners is working with the Government, the Law Society and leading employers in Leeds to support women and men back into the legal sector following extended career breaks.

The Law Returners programme, funded by the Government Equalities Office Returners Fund, is launching this week offering paid professional ‘returnship’ placements.

Twenty law firms in Leeds and Manchester have signed up to participate in the programme, ranging from local independents to multinationals.

In Leeds, these are  Bailoran Solicitors (Chapel Allerton), Barton Legal Limited (Rawdon), DAC Beachcroft, Emsleys Solicitors (Colton), Northone Solicitors, Pinsent Masons, Robinson Ralph, Squire Patton Boggs and Tapestry Compliance.

A launch event is being held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on 15 November.

Returning legal professionals are invited to come along for a morning of motivation, support and information on the programme and to network informally with potential employers.

Successful candidates for Law Returners will benefit from a paid six-month professional placement, starting in February 2019. They will receive coaching from Women Returners, an internal mentor, technical support and mentoring from the Law Society and a ready-made peer support group. They will refresh their skills, experience and networks and will have a strong likelihood of ongoing employment at the end of the programme.

Participating employers will benefit from access to a relatively untapped high-calibre talent pool of legal professionals. They will be provided with expert consulting guidance from Women Returners in order to help them better understand and meet the needs of the returners, together with promotional, line manager and returner support.

This is a pilot programme aiming to kick-start returnships in the legal sector. If successful, it will be extended to other regions in the future on a commercial basis.

The Leeds office of international law firm DAC Beachcroft is one of the participating companies. Sue Jenkins, talent partner, said: "We are thrilled to be partnering with Women Returners to support the Law Returners programme.

"Our experience of people joining us after career breaks has been really positive and we recognise that this is a high calibre talent pool that we want to attract. 

"Some of our returners step back in to the same type of work but others have opted to retrain, such as our colleague Eleanor Ludlam, a Law Society Back to Law Ambassador. We understand that returning can be a daunting prospect but there is plenty of support in place , including help from fellow returners."

Julianne Miles, managing director, Women Returners said: “It can be very daunting trying to get back into work after a long career break. Many people who are highly skilled, well-qualified and with considerable business experience struggle to find the right opportunities.

"Following the rapid growth of returner programmes in sectors such as financial services, telecoms and construction, it was an obvious next step to extend a concept with proven success into the law sector.

"The concept of returnships is less established in the north of England. But interest in the programme has been high, with 20 law firms large and small signing up for this pilot programme."

Hazel Little, coaching and programme manager, Women Returners said: “Returner programmes give talented and experienced women and men the opportunity to make a positive contribution to an organisation while updating their skills and being supported with coaching and mentoring.

"These placements give both returnees and businesses the opportunity to test whether it’s the right move in a low-risk, supportive environment. “

Applications are open until Sunday 25 November and you don't have to attend the launch to apply

To register for the launch event https://www.eventbrite.com/e/law-returners-leeds-tickets-50399935564

To find out more about the programme: http://wrpn.womenreturners.com/law-returners/