Legal sector returnships pilot launches in Manchester

Women Returners is working with the Government, the Law Society and leading employers in Manchester and 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 on November 14, offering paid professional ‘returnship’ placements.

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

In Manchester, these are CMS, DAC Beachcroft, DWF, Express Solicitors, EY Riverview Law, Fieldfisher, Forbes Solicitors, Gateley Plc, Horwich Farrelly, Northone Solicitors, Pinsent Masons, Squire Patton Boggs, Vista Employer Services Ltd, Widdows Pilling.

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.

Florence Van Schependom-Brown, resourcing and talent acquisition manager with Manchester-based DWF, said: “In today’s employment market, careers don’t always follow the traditional path, which is why we are so keen to get behind the Law Returners programme.

“We believe it will allow us to gain access to a strong pool of talent for the benefit of our business and clients.”

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.”

She added: “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.”

The Manchester launch event will be held at the Marriott Renaissance Hotel, on Wednesday, November 14, from 9.30am-1pm.

Applications are open until Sunday, November 25.