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Advancement of Women banner RETURNING

One of the key issues identified as impeding the advancement of women in the profession was returning to work after an absence, particularly parental leave. The following information is provided to assist practitioners during their absence and when preparing to return to work.

Associate membership

If you do not intend to renew your practising certificate during your period of absence, you may choose to become an associate member instead.

During the time you are not practising, you will still be able to gain access to a comprehensive range of discounts, benefits and opportunities for a reduced membership fee.

You will also continue to receive Law Society publications, keeping you up to date with relevant information about the industry. The Law Society website contains more information about services for associate members and has links to the application form.

Practising certificates

If your practising certificate has lapsed during your absence from work, you will need to apply for a new practising certificate before you return to work.

The application form must be completed and returned to the Law Society together with payment of fees.

Eligibility for type of practising certificate

If less than five years have passed since you held a practising certificate, you will be eligible to be issued with the same type of practising certificate you held previously.

If more than five years have passed since you held a practising certificate, you will be eligible to be granted an employee’s practising certificate.

If you wish to apply for any other type of certificate your application will be considered by the Licensing Committee to determine the conditions on the practising certificate. A period of supervised legal practice may be re-imposed on your practising certificate.

Further information about practising certificates can be found on our website.

Continuing professional development (CPD) requirements

The CPD year runs from 1 April to 31 March the following year. Generally you are required to complete 10 CPD units each year.

If you commence or recommence practice on or after the start of the CPD year you will be required to complete these units on a pro rata basis.

Where a part exemption or pro rata calculation applies, the compulsory fields (Rule 6.1) must be completed as part of the remaining units.

Further information on CPD requirements can be found here.

Continuing professional development

Practitioners may benefit from participating in CPD activities while they are absent from practice. A range of courses and CPD seminars are available through the Law Society CPD Program.

Information is also available on our award winning CareerHub website, with information on learning and development and careers that practitioners may find useful when considering returning to work.

Networking events

Another way in which practitioners are encouraged to maintain a connection with the profession during their absence is by participating in networking events as advertised in Monday Briefs.

Flexible working

You may wish to consider discussing flexible working arrangements with your employer before returning to work.

The Law Society has published a report which provides information on different types of flexible work and their value, as well as tips on developing suitable arrangements in the workplace for both male and female solicitors.

The report is available to be viewed online.

Locum service

The Law Society’s Locum Service connects firms seeking short or fixed-term assistance with experienced substitute solicitors.To be registered with the Service, our locums must be solicitors with a current Practising Certificate and have a minimum of five-year’s post admission experience.

Stay in touch

Maintain your membership and keep up to date during your absence by joining the Law Society’s LinkedIn or following us on Twitter @lawsocietynsw.

Childcare discounts and benefits

The Law Society, through our Member Connexions program, is proud to partner with 12 outstanding childcare and early education brands. Choose from more than 160 NSW and ACT childcare centres to provide your children with the best start to life.

Support for carers

The Law Society offers child care and lifestyle solutions through a partner organisation - Families at Work.


  • Advancement of Women Initiative
  • The Law Society of
    New South Wales
  • Sydney NSW 2000
  • T: (02) 9926 0333
  • AOW@lawsociety.com.au