Lawyers often leave full-time legal practice at some time in their careers for a variety of reasons. Kandy Williams, who took several years off before relaunching her practice, offers re-launchers six essential tips to re-enter legal practice.
Six Tips to Relaunching Your Legal Practice
1. Join Bar Sections. Join the section applicable to your practice area on the California bar website. I joined both the Business Law and Litigation Sections. Not only are there great resources that you will be able to access as a member, but you will also receive updates on CLE and changes in the law. I found this invaluable. Then choose CLE courses to take in areas in which you want to get up to speed. Most courses are available via Webinar (which means you do not even have to leave your house!).
2. Spend the Time Getting up to Speed. Speaking of CLE and getting up to speed, I literally spent hundreds of hours in the beginning getting up to speed on changes in the law or areas in which I just needed to be refreshed. It was hard to eat my time, but in the end it made me feel more competent. (I still eat tons of time, unfortunately, but much less so than in the beginning.)
3. Reach out to Colleagues. I e-mailed or called or had lunch with many attorneys with whom I used to practice. This helped get my name out there a little (which in turn has led to referrals), but I also picked up practice tips. I actually went to lunch with someone who left my old firm to do what I do, and I got great advice from him about resources (see below) and just general tips about managing my time and my practice.
4. Utilize Online Resources. It is so much easier to practice law now than it was a decade ago. All of the practice resources are in electronic format now (I use CEB for some of its online for-purchase resources). It is great because you can buy the guide on an area of law (which may be more than you are willing to pay for now, but keep this in mind for the future) and then you are able to click on the hyperlink to all of the cases and headings. It is amazing.
5. Follow a Big Firm or Boutique Firm Website/Blog. I found and follow several blogs in my practice area. These are so helpful. There is very little hiding the ball anymore. It used to be that clients paid lawyers for information. Now, due to the Internet, most of the information is already out there in cyberspace. Now clients pay for attorneys to synthesize all the information already out there based on the attorney’s experience. It is a different world.
6. Never Doubt Yourself or Sell Yourself Short. You are a smart, well-educated woman, and that has not changed even though you took time off from the practice of law. Several people asked me how I had the courage to go back to practicing law (especially on my own). I always say that I received an excellent education and big firm training and that I also have a great work ethic. This puts me way ahead of some of the attorneys practicing law out there so I feel as if my clients get a great value for the money.
Montage Legal Group has several attorneys who have relaunched their legal careers – Kandy Williams, Laura Finkelstein, Carolyn McKitterick, Helen MacLeod, Shanda Beach, Dimetria Jackson, and Shawna McKee.
Kandy Williams is affiliated with Montage Legal Group and is the owner of Williams Law Firm. Kandy has been featured by irelauch (“the return to work experts”) for successfully reentering the workforce after taking time off to raise her children. See Kandy’s irelaunch.com profile. Kandy can be reached at Kandy@montagelegal.com.