Middle-market firms searching for seasoned talent may want to borrow a page from the playbooks of big investment banks and law firms: Recruit and retrain highly-skilled women who took a break from full-time careers a few years ago to focus on childrearing and are now ready to return to the workforce, if they get the right retraining. The payoff may be enormous in attracting experienced dealmakers.

It's not surprising that the trend began with big banks and large law firms. Both types of organizations have a long tradition of providing structured training programs for college graduates and law-school or business-school graduates.

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