Associate – International Law Firm
It has been a well-trodden path for Australian lawyers to gain experience working overseas in the major Common Law / English speaking hubs around the world, gaining high calibre experience and personal development, along with the financial benefits.
During 2020 with the impact of the pandemic on global movement, for most of last year inteational relocation was not possible or on the agenda, and any moves that happened were at the start of the year or the very end.
However, Q1 2021 has bounced back in a big way and the demand for hiring resumed, along with it the interest in hiring high calibre Australian associates to join firms in the Middle East, London and US.
In order to get a feel for the movement of Australian lawyers inteational please find below an analysis of the locations and practice areas, of top 15 Australian law firm candidates who have moved between January 2019 to April 2021.
The figures are based on the main DMJ markets of Dubai / Abu Dhabi, London, New York and Califoia, and are for exteal moves, rather than those who have transferred inteally or moved in-house.
Many Australian lawyers of course relocate to elsewhere in the Middle East, Hong Kong, Singapore, Offshore (Cayman, BVI, Channel Islands) and potentially other European counties being the other most common destinations.
Breakdown of which jurisdictions the lawyers have been relocating too
- London accounted for 58% of moves and is still by some distance the most likely and popular destination for Australian lawyers moving overseas.
- The UAE market being significantly smaller and with the effects of the low oil prices/ pandemic had a low rate in 2020 compared to 2019, but higher levels are expected for 2021.
- The US market with the M&A market having been booming for some time has fuelled a continued demand for corporate / PE lawyers to relocate particularly to New York as the hub for mega deals, but also Palo Alto and San Francisco in relation to tech and VC lawyers.
Practice Areas of relocators by jurisdiction;
- The coprorate and finance opportunites were the hardest hit by the events of 2020, and predicted to bounce back,
- The Middle East always had a demand around the project finance, constrcution disputes and projects / EPC areas as core areas.
- IP, TMT, restructuring are the real growth area where demand will continue into 2021 and beyond.
- The London market with its size, depth and track record of hiring Australian relocators is still the place to go for those lawyers looking to sample an inteational move and offers a much broader range of practice areas and firm types.
- Corporate, Banking and Restructuring still dominate and are likely to continue to do so into 2021.
- TMT and Patent Litigation are definite growth areas for relocation.
- Good news if you are an associate at a top 6 Australian law firms undetaking corporate, finance or restructuring, 75 % of relocating lawyers are working within those areas and coming from those firms.
- The US is still the most difficult market to crack into, but with reciprocal visa in place and the booming M&A market there has never been a better time for best of Australian corporate lawyers to relocate to the US.
- The top 20 UK headquartered law firms account for 50% of the relocator hires.
- The Magic & Silver Circle law firms having the capacity to transfer lawyers inteally from within their network more readily from London or Australia, so potentially less need to hire exteally.
- The US firms with the high salaries are often able to poach talent from the Magic / Silver Circle firms in the region so potentially have less need to bring in lawyers from further afield.
- In London the Magic and Silver Circle law firms are still the most likely destination for Australian lawyers,
- For corporate and restructuring lawyers the US firms in London are becoming an increasingly attractive option, with the enhanced salaries, market share and opportunities.
- Factors such as secondary British / European passports also factor in, but post pandemic and Brexit it is still looking fairly easy for Australian lawyers to work in London.
At what experience level are lawyers relocating?
- In the Middle East the range is from 2 – 7 PAE with average at 4 PAE.
- In London the range is 2 – 8 PAE, with a 5 PAE average overall.
- For US the range is 2 – 8 PAE, however the vast majority seemingly at the 4th year level.
The legal markets have bounced back strongly in 2021 and to reflect the demand at the major firms around the world for strong associates has retued, with inteational relocation opportunities for top 15 Australian lawyers firmly back on the table.
We offer the Australian Gateway a one stop hub for top 15 firm Australian lawyers (and New Zealanders) interested in working overseas. If you would be interested in discussing an inteational move, please contact Stuart Greenland at firstname.lastname@example.org for information, guidance and coaching in relation to a move to Dubai, London or the US.
Stuart is an ex-lawyer with 15 years’ experience in assisting and advising Australian lawyers looking to move overseas.
DMJ is a specialist legal recruitment consultancy with a strong track-record and team of consultants dedicated to the Middle East, London and US markets, along with Offshore and Far East networks, so well placed to advise across the board on relocation opportunities and jurisdictions.
Director - DMJ Middle East