Tackling bias as a later lawyer

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Becoming a lawyer later in life has many advantages but ‘later lawyers’ still face bias when job hunting.  Mahlab Recruitment (VIC) managing director Katherine Sampson spoke with Australasian Lawyer about how ‘later lawyers’ can get into the jobs they deserve in a competitive job market.

Her first tip: Address the elephant in the room.

For many professionals starting a legal career later in life, it’s their second or even third career.  This means their motivation, focus and determination that comes from a wealth of life experience is unrivalled, Sampson said.  She said job seekers should be upfront and address any potential bias.

“They tend to be highly focused and conscientious: they have made a commitment to a second or even third career and apply themselves to succeeding,” she said.

“Many have pursued law as an adjunct to other very relevant experience in industry and are looking to marry the two.

“Where a later lawyer has relevant industry as well as legal experience, they are ahead of their younger competitors for the same role.”

Later lawyers can offer the crucial diversity that all businesses crave.  Sampson said it’s all about tackling the biases.

“Some employers still baulk at employing a candidate who is older or who comes from a less traditional, linear path than school/law/traineeship,” said Sampson.

“The important thing to bear in mind as a later lawyer candidate is to emphasise the positives: useful life and work experience, maturity and commitment, a willingness to succeed in this, your chosen field and the ability to relate to a wide range of people with ease.”
Click here to read her advice.