Many lawyers get burnt out and for health reasons need to take some time out. Other reasons for a break could be raising children, offering palliative care, voluntary work, paid work abroad or further study.
Our advice is to do it while you can. Generally, if you have a good amount of work experience under your belt (by that we mean three to four years), it will not be detrimental to your career. If you went straight from school, to university, and then to work, any life experience outside of that realm will probably make you a better, more rounded lawyer.
Most employers like to see that people have added to their life skills. Many firms and corporations are open to providing a leave of absence for up to a year for reasons such as travel, child care or exploring your creative callings. We have even heard of law firms giving lawyers a years’ leave of absence to go and work in an in-house role. The rationale is they would rather do that than lose you and the skills and corporate knowledge you have acquired.
Our advice is to put your career break on your CV. If it is left off then it may unnecessarily raise people’s suspicions. Some law firms do not discount your seniority if you have spent a year in a legal role, such as a judge’s associate. However, if the role is not legal, downgrade your salary expectations as a result of that year of leave.
What we usually find is that people come back to the law or their former role with a renewed enthusiasm and an appreciation of the stimulating, challenging and well paid industry that it is. Most of all, life is short, so make the most of it!