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Ask the Experts

Q: I have not actively practiced law for a number of years, working most recently as an administrator. I would like to reenter the practice of law. What can I do to become better able to market myself to potential clients and brush up on my litigation skills?

A: Volunteer work would be the most straightforward means to develop your advocacy skills. The key will be to carve out time between daily work and personal obligations to expedite the acquisition of the experience you seek.

Local bar associations, including New York City Bar Association affiliate the City Bar Justice Center are often looking for licensed, volunteer attorneys to assist with pro bono representation. You also can contact the courts and local legal services providers both of which sponsor volunteer clinics. Through these volunteer clinics, you can expect to gain substantive advocacy experience in a variety of practice areas including: immigration, consumer debt, foreclosure, wills, unemployment insurance and family/social services. Clinic sponsors generally provide training and case supervision in order for a volunteer attorney to feel comfortable in effectively representing a client.

Your law school’s Career Services Office and/or Public Interest Center may also serve as a resource, not only to learn about pro bono opportunities, but to secure leads on opportunities suitable to your individual interests and criteria. The City Bar also offers as a benefit to members a Career Counselor Referral Service. The Service provides for an initial session with a career counselor at a reduced rate. A career counselor, whether through your law school or otherwise, can work with you on tailoring your resume and cover letter materials to effectively leverage your legal and administrative experience.

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