Return to work
03 April 2019

Four ways to get you ready to return to work

Published on 03 April 2019

Suit? Check. Haircut? Work-appropriate. Phone? Synced to office email. Lunch? Packed with optimal greens and protein. Getting ready to return to the law? Insights has compiled this helpful checklist to make your return to work perfect. Included are CPD requirements, ways to keep connected to the profession while away, and flexible work options to suit your lifestyle when you return.

Check your practising certificate

First and foremost, you need to check the status of your practising certificate. Has it lapsed? If so, you should apply for a new practising certificate before you return. Complete the relevant application form available on your local law society website and pay the applicable fee. 

Depending on how long you have been away from the law, you will be issued with an appropriate practising certificate. In New South Wales, this is determined by the time limit of five years. If fewer than five years have passed since you last held a practising certificate, you may apply for a practising certificate of the same type you previously held. However, if more than five years have elapsed since you last held a practising certificate, you will be eligible to be issued with an employee’s practising certificate.

Refer to your local law society website for further information. 

Get your CPD sorted

With your practising certificate issued, it is time to get your CPD in order. As you know, you are required to complete 10 CPD units per year (1 April to 31 March). These may be completed on a pro rata basis, depending on when you recommence practice. For example, if you return to work in September, you would only need to complete half the CPD units for the CPD year. Compulsory fields must be covered as part of your remaining CPD units. Further information on what fields are compulsory may be found by contacting your local law society.

If there have been changes to your area of practice, it may be worth completing CPD to revise and refresh your understanding. This is particularly pertinent if your area of practice contains highly specialist knowledge. You may find this beneficial even if you are not planning to return to work imminently.

Consider an associate Law Society membership

Building your relationships, knowledge and client base takes time. Great careers are forged over years through consistent effort. Staying connected to the profession helps to preserve these efforts, so clients, colleagues or mentors don’t forget you while you are on leave.

In New South Wales, the Law Society provides associate Law Society memberships for lawyers taking time away from the law. Associate memberships are provided at a reduced fee, and allow you to receive Law Society publications, discounts and opportunities. Think of it as putting your professional membership on ‘low power’ mode. Visit your local law society to find out what membership options are available when you are not practising the law.

Networking and CPD events are low-stress, practical ways to keep connected with what’s happening in the law. For example, you can find networking events are advertised in Monday Briefs. 

Explore flexible working arrangements

Do you now have additional childcare or eldercare responsibilities? It’s worth factoring this in to your return to work plan. If you simply took a leave of absence from your job, contact management well in advance of your return to alert them of any personal commitments. Come prepared with a proposal for what flexible work could involve. Will you be able to complete the same work over fewer days, or over longer days? Do you propose to work remotely? If so, how can you keep in contact with your colleagues and clients to work effectively? Cloud-based workflow can make this possible, but it will require your organisation to be set up on a suitable cloud-based practice management system. Project management tools such as Monday.com and Trello can provide a common place for remote teams to work together.

Identifying what you need and how it would work well ahead of time is essential to making flexible working arrangements work. Done effectively, you can ensure a smooth transition back to the law.

The College of Law is offering you the opportunity to professionally re-engage, re-energise and re-connect to successfully return to the profession at the Return to Work Sydney Summit. View more information and register here.