$125,000, mentors and a chance: help for “dead end” on job search after 15-year hiatus from law

Brenda Sapino Jeffreys, Texas Lawyer

Full Story: http://www.texaslawyer.com/id=1202656221927/%24125%2C000%2C-mentors-and-a-chance%3A-help-for-%22dead-end%22-on-job-search-after-15-year-hiatus-from-law#ixzz32TZtqSYE


With a 15-year gap in her résumé, lawyer Heather Hewitt of Houston was having trouble finding work as a lawyer, even contract work or document review.

But in August, Hewitt starts a year of training and work in the corporate department at Baker Botts in Houston, where she is one of two women lawyers in the firm’s inaugural OnRamp Fellowship class. Hewitt also will receive coaching and professional development with her OnRamp Fellowship, and the fellowship includes a $125,000 stipend.

Hewitt said the training is just what she needs to burnish her résumé to land a full-time job as a lawyer.

“Not only was it an opportunity to work for a fantastic firm with amazing mentors and training but the chance to prove my marketability, to demonstrate to someone I have value to add,” said Hewitt, a 1995 graduate of the University of Texas School of Law who left the practice of law in 1999 after the birth of her first child.

Baker Botts is a founding sponsor of OnRamp, which was formed to help women lawyers get back into the workforce. The other woman in Baker Botts’ fellowship class, Yvette Lanneaux, plans to start work later this month in the firm’s corporate department in New York City.

Hewitt said she did a federal clerkship after law school, and she worked at Andrews Kurth and Hicks Thomas as a commercial litigator before she took time off to raise her family. She was “really shocked” at how difficult it has been to find a job since she recently decided to go back to work.

“I thought it would be a challenge, but it was dead end after dead end. I had a good career in the day, but it was discouraging,” Hewitt said.

In a written statement, Baker Botts managing partner Andrew Baker said the firm is “thrilled” to be part of the OnRamp Fellowship.

“We are excited to have two incredibly talented lawyers, Heather and Yvette, as part of our first fellowship class.”

OnRamp Fellowship announced on May 19 that a total of nine women lawyers were awarded fellowships at four firms. The other firms are Cooley, Hogan Lovells and Sidley Austin.