Considering a move overseas is definitely a wise career choice for an Australian lawyer looking to broaden his or her experience.
It is also a pretty safe bet. Today, by the time a recruiter receives a job requirement from a global firm, it is generally the final product of a comprehensive internal sign-off procedure. It is only released to market as an active and genuine role. The lawyer who gets the job can rest assured that it is a relatively safe proposition in terms of job security.
One challenge Australian lawyers face is that, anywhere global firms are hiring, the volume of relevant local candidates is now generally higher than it was a few years ago. The advantage there is that those lawyers don’t need to be relocated, might have language skills if required, are already qualified in the local jurisdiction and don’t generally need a visa
So, where Australian lawyers are included in the pool of potential candidates for a role they generally have to be from top-tier Australian firms. Given the intensity of competition for roles, it is important for Australian lawyers to work with a well-connected, experienced and strategic-thinking recruiter who knows what their clients want, how to present candidates in the best possible light and can possibly also present alternatives, like appropriate roles outside of a mainstream location.
Australian lawyers who secure interviews with international firms really do have to work hard to impress. They must first prepare by doing as much research as possible in order to come across as genuinely interested in the role and the firm.
That doesn’t mean just perusing the firm’s website but also looking broader and talking to contacts etc. Presenting as technically excellent at interview goes without saying, but lawyers must also convince the interviewers that they will fit in culturally, present well to clients and that they genuinely want to work at that particular firm and live in that particular country. An impressive performance has to be given in order to differentiate oneself from the competition.
An effective recruiter will outline honestly what the current prospects of securing an international role might be. If they are limited or non-existent that doesn’t mean that there is nothing that can be done while still in Australia. For example, if a lawyer is at a small or mid-tier firm, an achievable way to eventually make the move overseas is to maybe take a step up to a larger, internationally-regarded firm in Australia in order to become more marketable.
Many lawyers worry that there is a negative perception attached to moving firms locally, particularly if they are still quite junior. However, the result is almost always positive as future international employers will see the logic of stepping up to become more employable down the track. It’s important to think laterally about what options are available, even if that means making an unanticipated step or two to get there.