Our clients overseas (both private practice and in-house) continue to show strong interest in top-performing Australian and Kiwi lawyers, making this is a great time for these candidates to make an international move.
Bearing in mind that the hours and workloads expected at some of the leading firms in Australia and New Zealand are no different to what is expected at the premier firms in Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong, the question I always ask candidates is why not move somewhere where you can gain top-quality experience, pay less tax and be left with more money in your pocket?
In London and the rest of Europe, some of the law firms and most in-house roles will not consider anyone without EU working rights and languages, while in the Middle East, Singapore, Hong Kong and New York, sponsorship is never really an issue. Strong academic credentials are important and, in some cases, firms are unable to consider an application without these.
The London law firms are particularly busy in TMT, banking & finance, construction, finance litigation and energy & projects. While there is a strong focus on sourcing locally qualified talent, Singapore and Southeast Asia remain on the lookout for exceptional corporate, banking, arbitration and energy & projects lawyers; Hong Kong for banking and funds lawyers (languages are not necessarily required), and the Middle East remains interested in corporate, banking, construction & projects and arbitration lawyers.
In New York it’s all about banking & finance and corporate. For those that are looking for a slightly calmer lifestyle, the Cayman Islands and the Channel Islands remain open to Australian and New Zealand qualified lawyers with a minimum of four years’ large law firm experience in banking & finance, funds and corporate or litigation (insolvency). The in-house market overseas keeps changing but we have recently seen a need for lawyers with no less than four years’ experience in TMT, corporate & commercial and project finance.
Despite the favourable conditions, finding work overseas is certainly not a given. Some lawyers may find it very hard to make a move, particularly those with real estate, insurance, family, immigration, competition and employment experience. Litigation and dispute resolution lawyers without any arbitration experience may struggle to find roles in Singapore, Hong Kong and the Middle East.
Finally, you need to have patience, as the competition for roles overseas is still intense and clients remain very selective. Candidates need to be more flexible on salary and the organisation/firm that they consider and to always look at the overall picture, as an overseas move is about so much more than just an increase in salary or adding another name to your CV.