How to Get Back in the Legal Industry
Career changes and job changes are a constant for the typical American worker, and the constant state of flux in the legal industry only reinforces this general principle. Turnover in the legal industry costs roughly $9.1 billion annually. Much of this turnover is due to lawyers who seek a legal career change or lawyers who left law and aim to re-enter the industry.
This extensive industry turnover provides an excellent opportunity to re-enter the legal industry for anyone looking to use their law degree to practice law once again. If you are a legal graduate looking to return to the industry, the following tips should prove helpful for your legal re-entry strategy.
Tap Into Your Legal Network
Given that you were once an active member of the legal community, you likely created ties and connections to important people in the industry before you left. In the years since your departure from the legal industry, those peers likely have grown to enjoy hiring influence in their respective law firm and/or company.
As the old adage goes, it is often who you know, not what you know that makes the difference in the hiring process. This is no less true in the legal industry. Whether you tap into your peers or a network of passionate law school alumni, connections reduce barriers to re-entry and make it far easier to get your foot in the door.
Staying on Top of Legal Changes
Staying current with the latest legal changes is a critical component of making a successful return to law. Many educational institutions offer programs designed to help lawyers shore up their knowledge before re-entering the competitive legal marketplace. Bar associations may also provide similar programs and opportunities, so it pays to do your research in the state where you will be practicing. Not only will these programs help you find job opportunities, they are also critically important for shoring up legal knowledge.
As you know from your days in law school, many areas of law change rapidly. No matter what practice area you plan on resuming, you will need to find out what’s changed in your field since you left the law. Whether you take continuing legal education (CLE) courses or you need to take the bar, you will find the resources you need through local law schools and bar associations.
Refine Your Résumé
Once you reconnect with peers and refine your legal knowledge, you will be ready to commence the job interview process. While you may have an “in” with some of your former colleagues, you still need to tweak your résumé so you showcase your experience in the best possible light.
Depending on your desired practice area, highlight the skills you learned outside of law in the best possible light. For example, if you left real estate law to become a real estate agent, leverage that experience to highlight your nuanced understanding of real estate transactions from every angle. In short, sell your prior experience as something to be coveted and valued by legal employers.
Once you reach out to your network, regain familiarity with your practice area and hone your résumé, you will be well on your way towards a fulfilling return to law.