CBJ - January 2009 #02. Easing the pain of re-entry.

Author:By Diane Curtis

California Bar Journal


CBJ - January 2009 #02.

Easing the pain of re-entry

California Bar Journal January 2009 Easing the pain of re-entryBy Diane CurtisStaff WriterThese three women hardly sound like they would fear re-entering the job market:

Susan Nash: Cal Poly undergrad, Stanford Law School Order of the Coif. Law clerk to Judge David V. Kenyon, U.S. District Court, Los Angeles. Associate, Latham and Watkins. Lecturer, UCLA Law School. Panel attorney, California Appellate Project. Partner, Munger, Tolles and Olson.

Marjorie Wallace: UCLA undergrad cum laude, UC Hastings College of the Law. Yale Law School, LLM. University of Pittsburgh, M.S. in Information Science. Law Professor, Duquesne University School of Law. Perez and McNabb business litigation associate. Solo practitioner.

Marie Curry: University of Rochester magna cum laude. Harvard Law School cum laude. Associate, Hanson, Bridgett LLP.

Yet despite their proven abilities and accomplishments, Nash, Wallace and Curry all sought outside guidance and support - through the UC Hastings College of the Law's Opting Back In Program - when they decided to resume their legal careers after taking time off from the fast track to have more time for their children.

"I had a little trepidation about whether I knew enough to come back," said Nash, 52, who has returned to the Los Angeles office of Munger Tolles as of counsel representing corporate clients in commercial litigation matters in state and federal courts.

"Probably I would have blown the interview," without the help of the Opting Back In program, said Wallace, 56, who took seven years off the career roller coaster to be at home with her daughter. She is now doing plaintiffs' employment law as an associate at the Walnut Creek firm of Nancy Balles.

Without the project, said Curry, who used to practice in California but now lives in Akron, Ohio, "it would have been really easy for me at any point to say, 'This is too hard. It's not happening fast enough,'" and she might have taken work that wasn't what she really wanted. "I've spent the last 18 months (in the Opting Back In program) doing a level of discernment that I think we don't have the inclination or opportunity to do." That "level of discernment" led Curry, 44, who has moved three times because of her husband's job changes, to become a consultant in health policy, a strong interest. Her work is not yet as a lawyer again, but she considers it the right step on the path to practicing as a lawyer in an area about which she is passionate.


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