While the overseas markets present a challenge to adventurous Australian lawyers, demand will return in due course and when it does, be ready to pounce, writes Tim Fogarty
The GFC has made it increasingly difficult for Australian lawyers to secure careers abroad. The markets most commonly attracting our talent historically have been London, New York, the Middle East and Asia. Until recent times, Australia's leading firms have also been active in the global recruitment market. Of course, this is now not so.
International legal markets have turned their focus inwards. Demand for lateral lawyers is depressed. Where there is demand, however, it tends to be satisfied by locally based candidates.
Why? Because they are experienced in the jurisdiction, have been admitted to practice locally, can be interviewed in person, do not require assistance with relocation or visas and, where relevant, have local language skills.
When the "pool" of suitable local applicants becomes shallow, employers will again look abroad to solve their staffing issues. Even with the GFC, in some cases, the pool remains shallow and there are still Australian lawyers making the move, but not in anywhere near the same numbers as before.
What steps should you take to give yourself the best possible chance of working overseas? The first issue here is out of your hands. Demand needs to increase, which it will.
When that happens, the same types of lawyers who were in demand not so long ago will again be in vogue. So, position yourself to gain experience in the more transferable areas of practice such as corporate, banking and finance, projects, construction, IT and energy. When the market starts to pick up, applicants working at the most recognised brands here will be the first cabs off the rank. Where possible, target the best-known firms or corporations here to give yourself the best possible shot at the move.
Tim Fogarty is a group manager at Taylor Root, global legal & compliance recruitment