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My next move: Do I need to be with an international firm if I want to move overseas in the future?
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My next move: Do I need to be with an international firm if I want to move overseas in the future?

Following the fundamental change that has occurred within the Australian legal landscape in recent times, many lawyers have sought to join international firms due to the overseas career opportunities available.

We are commonly asked whether that is a crucial step if the medium-term plan is to enjoy a spell working abroad. While there is no doubt that recently merged firms and new international entrants present internal secondment or transfer opportunities, there is more to consider before making such a move.

Some candidates that have found themselves within newly merged international firms have expressed concern that their choices may be restricted in the future due to an expectation that they would move to another branch of the firm overseas.

Obviously, they are free to move wherever they choose, yet they could risk losing goodwill if moving overseas to a competitor of their new partner. That restriction is fine if the firm has merged with the type of practice you see yourselves with overseas e.g. Magic Circle or US.

An international firm can offer more overseas opportunities, but if you are planning to move for that reason you must consider whether the overseas entity is right for you, taking account of the nature of the firm, locations and strength in your practice area.

Other advantages of such a firm are that they can be more internationally recognised, can offer more international work, and may give you the option for a short-term secondment overseas. Additionally, given the fluctuating nature of international markets in recent times, you can have more certainty that an overseas option will become available to you.

The advantage of being in a highly-regarded, non-international firm is that it keeps a wider range of options open to you (including a safe return), while not offering the option to move internally. Additionally, some may benefit from new or existing relationships with non-merged overseas firms that could lead to additional opportunities in the future.

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