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General Tips for Attorneys Re-Entering the Job Market

General Tips for Attorneys Re-Entering the Job Market

If you put your legal career on hold for a year or more — for whatever reason — the prospect of re-entering the job market can be rather daunting.  Biglaw and in-house opportunities can be highly competitive, and even after you’ve obtained a sought-after position, it can feel as though you are merely keeping up or barely holding on by the “skin of your teeth.”  This concern is exacerbated after a period of absence.

Fortunately, all is not lost.  Making a grand return — a comeback, so to speak — is entirely possible, though you’ll want to maximize your chances by taking certain steps to enhance your attractiveness as an attorney-candidate.

Consider the following.

Stay Active in the Legal Community

Staying active in the legal community is an excellent way to demonstrate your continued interest in the legal industry during your period of absence, as well as to network with various employers and attorneys who can connect you with opportunities once you’re ready to make your grand return.  Best of all, networking in this manner is fairly easy — there are numerous attorney social events and conferences held throughout California at any given time, making it a simple matter to consistently attend and to stay connected to the industry at-large.

Consider Pro-Bono Opportunities While You Engage the Recruitment Process

Keep your mind and skills sharp!  During your period of absence, we encourage candidates to volunteer on complex pro-bono projects — not only will you be giving back, but you’ll also be able to show employers that you did not attempt a “complete break” from the law, thus demonstrating your continued commitment to the industry and your future within it.

Update Social Media Accounts

If you’ve been out-of-the-loop from a career perspective, then you may have become more casual in posting on your social media accounts (and you may have been less stringent with regard to your privacy settings).  Before you continue with the recruitment process, it’s important to update your accounts and ensure that any potentially damaging posts/pictures are removed or hidden.

Clarify Work-Life Balance Expectations

Oftentimes — and quite honestly, somewhat unfairly — employers look at attorneys who go through an extended period of absence as “lifestyle” attorneys who may require special requirements with regard to work-life balance.  The employer may believe that you are not interested in returning to a highly-competitive or intense work environment.  Alternatively, the employer may believe that you are still competitive and have a strong work ethic, but that you are looking for a non-traditional work arrangement.

None of these are necessarily dealbreakers for employers — in fact, in recent years, Biglaw and in-house employers are increasingly offering alternative work arrangements (i.e., part-time opportunities, remote opportunities, non-partner tracks, etc.) that are more suitable for such attorneys.  As an attorney returning to the workforce, however, you’ll want to clarify your intentions and expectations so that your employer is not left with unanswered questions with regard to how they can best staff you.

Reframe the Period of Absence

As a general rule, the period of absence — assuming that it is of significant length (i.e., a year or longer) — will draw the curiosity of employers, and may require some form of explanation or justification.  If the reason for your absence is quite straightforward, such as pregnancy or serious illness, then the explanation will be unnecessary.  If the reason for your absence is based on a voluntary decision, such as career burnout or a growing interest in personal projects, then you’ll have to reframe the decision in such a way as to “defang” the decision for employers.

Reframing your period of absence in a manner that speaks positively as to your potential as an attorney-candidate is critical.  For example, if you took some time off due to burnout, and you pursued some personal projects and traveled, then you may want to focus on the specific projects you worked on and how you accomplished what you set out to do — you’ll want to give the impression that whatever curiosity you had was successfully sated and that you are now completely ready to make your return.  Do not give employers a reason to question your commitment!

Contact an Experienced Los Angeles Legal Recruiter for Assistance

If you’ve been out of the job market for some time, and you’re interested in learning more about specific, worthwhile Biglaw and In-House opportunities in California, or if you’re simply looking for guidance on how to retool your application and make yourself a more attractive attorney candidate overall, then we encourage you to contact one of the experienced Los Angeles legal recruiters here at Garb Jaffe & Associates.

Here at Garb Jaffe, our recruiters have a long and successful track record in placing attorneys at prestigious Biglaw firms and in-house legal departments — and this includes attorneys who may be re-entering the job market after a sustained period of absence, no matter the particularities (i.e., pregnancy, illness, personal issues, etc.).  We believe that our comprehensive approach to recruitment assistance has given our applicants a substantial competitive advantage in securing ideal placements.  We work with attorneys from beginning-to-end of the recruitment process, and help them with everything from identifying best-fit opportunities to resume development to mock interviews, and more.


Call (310) 207-0727 to speak to a skilled Los Angeles legal recruiter at Garb Jaffe.  We look forward to helping you tackle the recruitment process!

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