Allegheny County Bar Association introduces Back to the Bar, a pilot program to assist attorneys looking to re-enter the legal profession

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – August 27, 2013. Officers of the Allegheny County Bar Association have announced the creation of Back to the Bar, a program to assist attorneys who are looking to re-enter the legal profession. The six-day pilot program will begin on September 24.

According to Alysia Keating, director of diversity and gender equality for the Allegheny County Bar Association and co-chair of the ACBA Committee that created the program, Back to the Bar was designed to help make re-entry less challenging.

“Both men and women leave the legal profession for a variety of reasons – because of a career change, relocation, layoff, child or elder care responsibilities, or other reasons. And when they decide to re-enter the profession, it can be intimidating,” said Keating. “I left the practice of law when I was arguably at the top of my game. Yet when I thought about coming back after seven years, I lacked the confidence not only in my legal skills but also in my ability to sell myself and account for my decision to leave and my time away.”

The program is designed for law school graduates who have previously practiced law or otherwise used their degree in a professional capacity, took a leave from their career for a year or longer and wish to return to the practice of law or to find an alternative use for their law degree. According to Keating, these individuals are known as “on-rampers because they are transitioning back into the profession.” The program is not intended for recent law school graduates who have never practiced law, and there are no guarantees that attendees will find employment after completing the program.

Erin Gibson Allen, who co-chaired with Keating the committee that created Back to the Bar, also left the profession for a time before returning to work as a volunteer clerk in the office of US Magistrate Judge Lisa Lenihan. Allen now works as a litigation associate at Reed Smith. “Re-entry programs can give attorneys the momentum and inspiration they need to start a job search, which is a daunting process,” said Allen. “When attorneys complete Back to the Bar, they should have refreshed legal research and writing skills, a professional resume, honed interview skills, and a network of attorneys to help them get started.”

Carol Fishman Cohen, author of Back on the Career Track and co-founder of iRelaunch, will kick off the program on September 24. The career services offices and law school professors of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and the Duquesne University School of Law have volunteered their time and expertise.

According to Allegheny County Bar Association President Nancy L. Heilman, “There are many experienced local attorneys who have left the profession, and the new program may be just the incentive they need to return,” said Heilman. “The practice experience of those attorneys is a valuable resource for our legal profession.”

The cost of the program is $395, which includes a one-year membership to the Allegheny County Bar Association. Attendees will be paired with an active member of the legal community who will serve as a mentor for a period of time following the conclusion of the program.

At least 10 continuing legal education credits will be available. To fill out an application, go to Any questions should be directed to Special Counsel is the corporate sponsor for the pilot program.

Chartered in 1870 and headquartered in downtown Pittsburgh, the Allegheny County Bar Association is a professional organization with more than 6,500 member attorneys, judges, district justices, legal administrators, and paralegals.


Alysia Keating
Director of Diversity and Gender Equality
Allegheny County Bar Association

Tom Loftus
Director of Marketing and Media Relations
Allegheny County Bar Association