I retired from fee-earning eight years ago. In the latter stages of my career my area of practice was confined to commercial conveyancing for government departments. There was a time when I dealt with private client matters but that was long ago. 

I notice there are several opportunities for private client practitioners at various levels but my applications go nowhere. I think this is because I cannot ‘hit the ground running’. 

Is there some way you can suggest that might generate employment? I have said a modest investment of time at entry-level pay would, with patience, be rewarded.

I am 75 but active and was admitted over 50 years ago. I am quite comfortably placed financially but miss work. Locum practice would suit my lifestyle.

Since retiring I have taken on various voluntary roles including that of a school governor. Do you have any suggestions for reskilling to obtain work in this area?

chris owen


Chris Owen, director, Lawyers Select says… 

Despite what the law of equality says, the commercial reality is that ageism in recruitment exists. 

There is no silver bullet to your question, but here are some constructive ideas for you to consider. Geography may well play its part – in a quiet country area some of my suggestions will be less successful than in a major city. 

I see that you are doing some voluntary work. If there is a local Citizens Advice office, go and see them and offer your services. Roll up your sleeves and be prepared to learn and then advise on a wide range of subjects foreign to your former practice. What is the benefit of doing this, you will ask? First, it gets you out of the house. Second, it gets you reskilled and helps others. Third, Citizens Advice usually has lots of local contacts with law firms and may be able to put you in touch with appropriate firms who do commercial conveyancing. Get an introduction to those firms (but see below as to tactics). 

Local councils in your area will be short-staffed (they all are). Send an email or write a letter to them, or ask Citizens Advice to introduce you to anyone they know in the local authority. You need to get hold of the HR department. What is the angle you need to put forward? Pro bono, initially, followed by a paid locum role if you have proved yourself. So whichever way you play this, that is the aim.

If there are local law firms near you, write to the senior or managing partner offering to work pro bono on anything. You will need training if they are prepared to do that. You will obviously mention your previous experience and you can ask if they can put you alongside the fee-earner doing commercial work and in effect be there on work experience, learning what has changed since you last practised. A good friend of mine is a head of real estate and I know from him that this area has moved on a lot, so you may have much catching up to do. 

I don’t know if you look at internet job websites much but there are always maternity/ paternity cover roles going. Maybe apply with an offer of working the first month for free. This way, they see you and you see them, so it is less of a risk both ways.

Katie beverley

Katie Beverley, senior consultant, Sellick Partnership says…

I am sorry to hear you are having trouble getting back into work. The horrible reality is that older candidates (often more experienced) can find it much harder to find employment despite the experience they may have. My biggest piece of advice would be to not give up, and immerse yourself as much in the legal world as you can! You should consider attending CPD and networking events to get yourself back into the swing of things and speak with legal professionals to increase your presence in the market. It is not uncommon for legal candidates to unearth opportunities at events like these that are not yet on the market, so this could be a good next step. You should also ensure that you are on social media sites such as LinkedIn and try to engage with as much legal content and news as you can. This will keep you abreast of changes and also show how keen you are to secure a new role.

It can also often be difficult to get back into legal work after a period of absence so I think locum work would be a great way back into the market for you. However, because you have been out of the sector for a number of years you may want to look at lowering the rate you are asking for to secure your first role. Clients in the locum market are always looking to pay as little as possible so doing this will make you seem more attractive, and then you can look to increase your rate as you showcase your experience and abilities.

Whatever you decide, the market is buoyant so it is important to keep looking. Keep in touch with legal recruitment agencies and speak with as many firms as possible to ensure you never miss out on a new opportunity.