Australian lawyers are now so well embedded in the UK legal market that - provided you have your own visa and are on the ground in London - you will be considered alongside UK candidates, even in this market.
The recent experience of using top Australian lawyers has accustomed even quite small firms to integrate Australian lawyers and the feedback has been excellent. The bad news is that there are very few positions vacant right now, particularly in private practice. The global giants and most of the mid-tier UK firms are simply not hiring - particularly in transactional areas. Even top tier lawyers must be open to working at smaller firms and firms outside London.
In-house roles have also dropped off, particularly in the finance sector, and the competition for those roles is tough because UK experience is clearly preferred. That said, in-house commercial, TMT and insurance roles are still going to Australians who can start immediately, particularly on contract. The government sector is still recruiting and will look at Australian lawyers.
In terms of your CV, ensure that your academics are explained where necessary and state where your firm fits into the Australian market.
Our feeling is that the market is starting to improve, albeit slowly. Firms may have culled excessively to keep utilisation rates high, so next year should see an increase in opportunities for Australian lawyers with experience of more than three years.
- Peter Buck, senior consultant from FirstCounsel