9 Female Attorneys Tapped For New BigLaw ‘Returnship’ Program

By Andrew Strickler

For full story:  http://www.law360.com/corporate/articles/539381?nl_pk=6694a16a-557b-4f31-981b-173445e3baa9&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=corporate

Law360, New York (May 19, 2014, 7:55 PM ET) — A group of nine women have been chosen as the first fellows of a BigLaw program, launched early this year to help women who took breaks from their legal careers to transition back to law firms, according to an announcement of the program on Monday.

The four firms participating in the OnRamp Fellowship — Baker Botts LLPCooley LLPHogan Lovells, and Sidley Austin LLP — have agreed to bring on the fellows in corporate, litigation, trademark, finance, and real estate practices in six cities.

“It is gratifying to see these lawyers, who excelled in their careers before taking a break from practice, return to the legal profession in a way that acknowledges their talent and experience while providing an environment in which they can re-establish their practices, explore new areas, and expand their professional networks,” OnRamp founder Caren Ulrich Stacy said in a statement.

More than two dozen firms have inquired about participation, and the program plans to run a second phase of the pilot this summer.

The participating firms had previously committed to hiring at least one fellow, but Baker Botts and Cooley brought in two fellows each, while Sidley hired four.

“I have no doubt that this inaugural group of fellows will lead the way in demonstrating the depth and breadth of this untapped pool of talent,” Stacy said.

The fellows were chosen from a pool of 170 applicants, many of whom left their legal careers to raise families and pursue other kinds of work and education. Their hiatuses from practice ranged in length from three to 20 years.

The program was modeled after so-called returnship programs offered at companies such as Goldman Sachs & Co. and Sara Lee Corp., and is intended to provide a re-entry to a full-time legal career.

Applying lawyers were required to have three years of professional experience and have been on hiatus for at least two years. Firms will pay their fellows a $125,000 stipend with benefits, for a one-year, full-time contract.