SAN FRANCISCO — After four years in Big Law, Lori Trujillo took a career hiatus to raise her two children. When she tried to return to work three years later, she found her stint away from the law made the job search difficult.
“Compared to somebody else who has the same qualifications but no gap in her resume, it can be harder to get interviewed,” said Trujillo. In May, she started a paid one-year fellowship—or returnship—in Sidley Austin’s Los Angeles corporate and intellectual property practice, one of the first lawyers placed by The OnRamp Fellowship program. The program is designed to help women who are reentering the profession after taking time off.
On Monday, OnRamp said it had signed up 11 more law firms for its program, creating more than 50 new fellowships across the country. Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and Fenwick & West are among the new participants. OnRamp founder Caren Ulrich Stacy said the program’s initial draw was overwhelming. OnRamp received more than 170 applications for nine fellowships at participating firms Cooley, Baker Botts, Hogan Lovells and Sidley.
Stacy, a legal professional development consultant, said participants’ reasons for leaving the law range from having to care for a child or ailing relative to pursuing a new career or degree. Whatever their reasons for leaving, Big Law’s traditional track system can make reentry difficult.
Because Big Law recruiting is typically aimed at law school graduates and lateral hires, attorneys returning from a career hiatus may feel they are not invited to apply for open positions, explained Don Keller, a partner in Orrick’s Silicon Valley office.
New openings in California are in Baker Botts’ Palo Alto office, Fenwick’s Silicon Valley office, Sidley’s San Francisco office, Orrick’s offices in San Francisco and Silicon Valley and Cooley’s offices in San Diego, Palo Alto and San Francisco. Both new applicants and women who applied in the initial draw will be considered, Stacy said.
Other firms that joined the program on Monday include Akerman; Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz; Blank Rome; Crowell & Moring; Fish & Richardson; Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson; Jenner & Block; K&L Gates; and White & Case.
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