Turns out we’re not here by accident. Back in 1992, this article from The Lawyer reports that City firms actively ruled out planning to help lawyers return after extended breaks. They wouldn’t be required as “the majority of women leaving to have babies come back very quickly …”

Well, we know how that one played out.

Q. “How difficult was it getting back up to speed after a long time away from the law?” A. “Surprisingly easy – I didn’t have to catch up on 17 years of changes, it was just about getting back up to speed with where the law is now.”

Which is where the Reignite Academy comes in.

Applications open for our next programme now

We now have opportunities with eight further City law firms – Herbert Smith Freehills, Hogan Lovells, Mayer Brown, PwC, Shearman & Sterling, Simmons & Simmons, Slaughter and May, Travers Smith and Guildford based Stevens & Bolton. Our biggest challenge? Spreading the word to the many lawyers out there who would love to go back to private practice but who don’t know this opportunity exists. That’s where YOU come in. Please spread the word. People can apply on our website.

We’re also running a workshop on 7th June at PwC, during which we’ll give participants the information and tools they need to navigate today’s recruitment market, write a CV that shows them to their best advantage, make the most of LinkedIn and re-engage with their networks. Places limited, registration here.

Reignite Academy wins the Grand Prix

In other news, we went along to the annual HR in Law Awards hoping to win in the “Excellence in Direct Recruitment” category. And guess what. We only went and won the Grand Prix. The Big Cheese. The prize of prizes.

The judges said that the Reignite Academy stood out from all the other entries because we are giving women who want to get their careers back on track the one thing they need that others don’t offer: a job.

They were also impressed by the way firms are collaborating to fix what has hitherto been an intractable problem. Their recognition meant an enormous amount. And a small celebration to come.

Stephanie had quite a month.  Firstly she was a star witness on BBC Radio 4’s Money Box, talking about the financial implications of returning to work after an extended break listen here.

She also bumped into Baronness Helena Kennedy QC at the launch of the important and troubling IBA report into bullying and harassment in the legal sector.

Not to be outdone, Lisa talked herself into a piece in the Sunday Telegraph about changing careers “late in life” but managed to force-fit the Reignite Academy into the opening paragraphs, her point being that many people don’t actually want to make a complete change, they’d simply like the option to return to do the job they trained for.

Did you know …

  • 90% of women who leave have zero contact with alumni programmes
  • the number one reason for returning is “personal fulfilment and to make an impact”
  • the most important success factor is “a manager who wants me to succeed”

Well that’s what people have told us so far. Have your say by completing this short questionnaire, gathering attitudes and views of those who have left private practice and may be considering returning.

Delighted to introduce you to Tanja Spittal who joined the team recently as a career consultant & coach. Tanja began life as in the City as a litigator but frankly I don’t think you could meet anyone less litigious, so it’s understandable that she soon swapped that career for one in legal recruitment, where she spent some time placing unhappy lawyers into happier jobs.

Like many of us, she eventually found combining career, commute and children involved too much compromise and took a career break during which she trained as a life coach and set up Giraffe coaching (“helping you stick your neck out”). Which is how she ran into Steph … and the rest, as they say, is history.

Tanja is now combining all that legal, recruitment and coaching experience and as well as helping us find candidates, she will be acting as a first point of contact during the first few weeks of any programme, checking in on progress, resolving any immediate issues etc.

Her highlight so far?

She says: “Interviewing people and realising that wherever you are there are women of incredible seniority and experience who are lacking in confidence – and knowing we can do something to help that.”

We say: taking a handful of Reignite brochures to hand out to the senior partners of a magic circle firm at a black tie event. (She was there as a guest!)
That’s it for this month people. For more regular updates & more interactive chat, join our facebook group.