An ex-Baker & McKenzie special counsel who recently joined Deloitte as a partner told Lawyers Weekly that professional services firms are more suited to delivering corporate immigration services than law firms.
Rita Chowdhury (pictured) started her role in Deloitte’s national immigration practice in August. Her private practice career included 13 years at Bakers, where she established the firm’s immigration practice.
Speaking with Lawyers Weekly, Chowdhury said immigration services “align more naturally” with the core practice areas of the Big 4 professional services firms, particularly their tax practices.
“Immigration is viewed as a strategic growth area by the Big 4 professional services firms, whereas in law firms, immigration is generally viewed as an add-on.”
Chowdhury provides a range of corporate immigration services to Deloitte’s clients. These services include obtaining work permits for expat employees at large multinationals and handling their tax returns.
“This is beneficial for our clients from both a convenience and fees perspective,” she said.
Mark Wright, the global leader of Deloitte’s immigration practice, claimed a growing number of Deloitte’s clients are demanding immigration advice and support. He singled out changes to Australian business visa rules, especially those related to the Temporary Work Skilled 457 Visa, as one of the main immigration concerns of clients.
“The the 457 visa has morphed into a political football that could slow down critical projects, put the brakes on foreign investment and constrain productivity,” he said.
“More than ever, immigration assistance is about helping businesses to extract value from their talent by enabling deployment to strategic markets.”
Change of scene
Having spent most of her legal career in private practice, Chowdhury said she is enjoying working in an environment that doesn’t solely consist of lawyers. She is often involved in discussions with Deloitte partners from other divisions of the business, including Deloitte Access Economics and Deloitte Digital.
While the Sydney mum didn’t take the role at Deloitte for any other reason than to advance her career, she said she appreciates that the firm encourages flexible work practices.
“Most organisations have policies in place but I can honestly say that Deloitte walks the talk and actually enables the policies to be implemented,” she said.
Another drawcard was the firm’s approach to innovation. Chowdhury revealed that Deloitte’s Australian CEO Giam Swiegers encourages social media use for business purposes at every level of the organisation. Employees can also apply for funding to develop a useful piece of technology to a ‘proof of concept’ stage.