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Second Acts in Law

As Bruce MacEwen writes in this post, Back to Business Law, law firms in conjunction with the American Bar Association are developing programs to help female attorneys who left the law to raise families keep their skills fresh if they choose to return. As MacEwen describes, the programs cover cutting-edge issues in corporate law, like professional responsibility for corporate lawyers, Sarbanes-Oxley and changing regulation for securities issuances, and they're taught by first-rate experts. 

Don't think law firms are necessarily growing more enlightened about work-life balance in sponsoring these programs. In many instances, economics drive the creation of these programs. As MacEwen writes:

The economic tragedy is one we also know too well: As expressed by Arthur Field, retired corporate partner from Shearman & Sterling: ''Firms have a big investment in this group because they have trained them,'' he said, ''while the individual lawyers have an enormous investment in their education. Those who want to come back will work harder. If it's just a dollars and cents decision -- which it shouldn't be -- why wouldn't you hire more highly motivated people who have left and want to come back?''

And indeed, the law firms have found the right target audience. Consider this comment from MacEwen's post comments:

You have heard, as have I, the female friend now 25 years out of a top-three law school, whose practice, in the ascendancy at an AmLaw 5 firm, ended 18 years ago, for keeps, when the first of her two children was born: And I quote, "I wasted my education, and my career!" 

What firm wouldn't want to hire a lawyer (male or female) who overlooks the absolute blessing of children to bemoan the loss of a career and who apparently lacks the creativity to figure out a way to keep a place in the law without a job at Biglaw?   


Posted by Carolyn Elefant on December 21, 2006 at 06:24 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)


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