find the latest legal job
Senior Associate - Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Come work for a firm ranked in Lawyers Weekly Top 25 Attraction Firms
View details
Associate - Workplace Relations & Safety
Category: Industrial Relations and Employment Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Employer of choice · Strong team culture
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: All Perth WA
· Freelance opportunities through Vario from Pinsent Masons
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Adelaide SA
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Slow market keeps local lawyers at home

Slow market keeps local lawyers at home

Australian lawyers looking to expand their experience overseas are finding that opportunities in international legal markets are disappearing as the world economy slows, writes Angela…

Australian lawyers looking to expand their experience overseas are finding that opportunities in international legal markets are disappearing as the world economy slows, writes Angela Priestley.

For many Australian lawyers, 2008 will be remembered as the year they changed their international plans and realised that sticking with their domestic lifestyle might be a better means of dealing with a slowing global economy.

Some may have stayed at home to get out of the way of any fallout occurring in international law firms in light of the US sub-prime mortgage crisis. For others, the opportunities in London and the US that once appeared limitless may have simply become unobtainable.

In the UK, where a stint in legal work was once considered a rite of passage for Australian lawyers keen on climbing as high up the ladder as possible, the opportunities have slowly deflated as the burgeoning market finally came to the end of its positive run.

The crash was well under way when Lawyers Weekly published its annual London Report in July. Back then, even recruiters were quick to point out just how much the market had slowed: "The market is dead," says Edward Andrews, managing director at EA International. "Don't be fooled by the situation in London, because it's not pretty."

Since then, with the added fuel of the near collapse of international markets in September, the opportunities for Australian lawyers in Magic Circle and Silver Circle firms appear to have dwindled even further. Redundancies have become a regular fixture of the London legal landscape. UK-based publication The Lawyer reports that the last few months have seen more than 730 lawyer redundancies in the region.

But with the distribution of legal work through globalisation, the rise of less traditional legal markets such as Hong Kong, Moscow and Dubai appears to have arrived at a good time. Australian lawyers working in such markets are adamant that the deals are still bigger than Australia, with the added bonus of unique cultures and environments.

Recruitment manager at Simmons & Simmons, Emma Lim recently told Lawyers Weekly that away from the dream of working in London there are still plenty of valuable opportunities in the growing markets of the Middle East and Moscow. "Lawyers working in these areas gain good, transferable experience and often have increased responsibility and many more business development opportunities, which can only benefit them in their future career," she says.

This won't necessarily mean more opportunities for Australian lawyers. Law firms needing to cut costs in their main offices will be looking to use those resources elsewhere - meaning lawyers already under their wing will probably be more likely to land the big jobs. Meanwhile with the international pool of opportunities evaporating, legal markets that are still strong are taking only the best candidates Australia has to offer.

The influence of China and Hong Kong on the global legal market does not appear to be disappearing any time soon. Market analysts producing the Legal 500 directory series label Hong Kong as "fashionable again", given China's influence in a global economy that has seen Western markets facing severe pressure. Law firms might be rationalising their services in London and New York, but in China they are still keen to grow their offices.

Chinese target M&A also recently reached its highest volume ever, reaching $76.1 billion in the year-to-date 2008 period according to Thomson Reuters reports - a rising figure that runs against the trend of slowing deals in much of the rest of the world.

Lawyers in the US have seen some interesting and, for some even exhilarating, work in light of the financial crisis. While records were not so long ago falling as deals kept getting bigger, M&A had to take a back seat as the climax of the sub-prime crisis set in and lawyers recognised the need to change their specialties - into areas such as bankruptcy and even special sub-prime crisis groups - in order to remain relevant.

A shattered global economy won't hold an ambitious young lawyer back from their desired international future. While some will chose to wait the situation out, others will still leave home, but may very well find their original destination has changed.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Slow market keeps local lawyers at home
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Scales of Justice
06:04
‘Ego status’ compelled ex-lawyer to defraud $2.97M, court told
Debarred lawyer John Gordon Bradfield told a NSW District Court that he was driven by “ego status...
Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA), Queensland’s new industrial manslaughter legislation,
06:03
ALA welcomes ‘tough’ Qld manslaughter laws
The Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) has welcomed Queensland’s new industrial manslaughter legisl...
Legal podcasts, tune in, microphone
06:00
Legal podcasts you have to tune in to right now
The rise of the internet has hailed in a new dawn for storytelling. Here’s our top pick of podcast...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...