The good news for M&A lawyers is that you are working in an area of law that is well placed for making an international move.
This is particularly the case if you are working with one of the major firms in Australia. However, the international market for M&A lawyers is reasonably subdued at present. While it is by no means out of the woods yet, the English economy has gained some traction over the past three years. London is the market that still has the most opportunities for Australian M&A lawyers, but there are also some M&A roles across Asia, the Middle East, Europe, New York and Los Angeles. Given there are fewer opportunities overall for M&A lawyers aspiring to work overseas, some flexibility as to location would increase your chances of securing a great role. As ever, language skills for countries such as China and Japan are highly sought after in foreign M&A lawyers.
Generally, opportunities tend to be available for slightly more senior lawyers. Lawyers with four to six years’ post-admission experience in Australia tend to be in the highest demand. While there are occasionally opportunities for M&A lawyers with two years’ experience, there is less interest in these junior lawyers from the overseas firms. There are opportunities for M&A lawyers with either public or private M&A experience.
It pays to plan an overseas move to ensure you have the sought-after experience. If you are not doing high quality M&A currently – either because you are in a smaller firm or because the corporate group at your firm is slow – it would be a good idea to make a lateral move in Australia into a busy practice that does high-profile M&A work. This is particularly the case for more junior lawyers who have yet to reach the desired four to six years’ experience and have a bit of time to position themselves for the overseas move.
The entry of large international firms into the Australian market has enabled some M&A lawyers working at these firms to remain with the same firm and move within the international network. Typically, lawyers are keen to consider all their options before accepting an international transfer with their current firm as the salary or the corporate practice at another firm may be more appealing.