Three Florida firms join in program to welcome women back from career breaks

By Michelle de Leon | Oct 21, 2016

Law firms in Florida have become more open to hiring women lawyers who voluntarily took a break from their profession to attend to personal matters such as raising their children and managing their households date, three Florida firms have expressed support of the program granting assistance to these women.

The program, which started in 2014, announces that it has its first openings in Florida courtesy of the following law firms: White & Case LLP, Fisher & Phillips LLP and Akerman LLP. All three firms have reached out to the program, which is known as the OnRamp Fellowship, to fill in vacancies in their offices.

The opening at Akerman is for a real estate lawyer in Miami. The law firm aims to hire an attorney under the OnRamp Fellowship in an effort to uphold its commitment to provide women with opportunities to advance themselves in the profession. Apart from Akerman’s involvement with the program, the law firm was also reported to have taken part in the Women in Law Hackathon event at Stanford Law School on June 24.

Carol Faber, one of the Miami real estate partners of Akerman, stressed the firm’s dedication to reaching out to the community and looking into ways to contribute to the growth of those in the legal profession. She shared that they are eager to seek ways to support programs or projects that help improve the welfare of the public and other lawyers.

"We are very focused on getting involved in programs that make an impact: an impact for our clients, an impact for our community and an impact for our attorneys," Faber said via the Daily Business Review.

As for Fisher Phillips, the law firm has been known as an active participant in the hiring of lawyers who took long breaks in their careers. Christine Howard, one of the firm’s partners in Tampa, shared that lawyers aiming to jump back in the legal profession offer a lot of advantages. For instance, these attorneys display a strong sense of enthusiasm in demonstrating their skills as well as in learning the new practices and concepts that emerged in their absence. Howard, who is also the co-chair of Akerman’s Women’s Initiative and Leadership Council, also noted how keen these lawyers are to bridge the skills gap and showcase their abilities to help the firm.

"We found that they were eager to return to the workforce. They were eager to hone their skills, eager to engage in marketing and business development,” Howard said via the Daily Business Review.

However, not all law firms are eager to participate in the hiring of attorneys under the OnRamp Fellowship. According to Caren Ulrich Stacy, the founder of the program, some companies find lawyers with a considerable gap in their professional experience to be risky investments. She said that these law firms question the capacity of lawyers who took long breaks to keep in step with the cases and clients.

"The practice group leaders always felt like it was just too risky because there were questions about that person's ability to hit the ground running if they haven't been practicing for 10 or 15 years," Stacy said via the Daily Business Review.

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