The overseas market is finally picking up, providing attractive opportunities for local lawyers looking to give their careers a boost. Briana Everett looks at the international options available to Australian lawyers
After being hit extremely hard by the global financial crisis, hints of a recovery are starting to emerge within the international legal market, as vacancies in the United Kingdom and Asia steadily increase.
While the recovery is slowly gaining momentum, Marsden International principal Jonathan Walmsley is convinced things are looking up on the international scene. "I think the market, particularly in the last month, has taken a big upturn," he says.
"We've just seen a real increase in international vacancies."Marsden International recently launched a recruitment advertising campaign in Australia for London firm Herbert Smith. Although Herbert Smith is the first firm to once again take an active interest in Australian lawyers, Walmsley says the firm's recent campaign in Australia is indicative of things to come and that other international firms will follow suit and look towards Australia for talent.
"We've been approached by a number of firms...There is a transition.
The firms are coming back," he says. "[International firms] are serious about recruitment. They're not just keeping their eye out for star lawyers."
According to Walmsley, UK firms are looking for lawyers in three main practice groups including corporate, energy and banking and finance, as well as IT lawyers. "I think that sort of combination [is] a really good flavour of what is happening globally at the moment," he says. While the United States market is yet to experience similar improvements, Walmsley says in both the UK and Asia, firms are actively pursuing specific lawyers.
"Firms have specific needs at the four to five-year level. That's what they're really looking for and there won't be much flexibility in the level at which they're hiring. They have specific needs both in terms of [the] level of PQE and also the type of lawyer they want."
In addition to its Australian hunt, Herbert Smith is looking across Asia, including Singapore, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and China, plus the Middle East and of course London. However, both Walmsley and Hughes-Castell consultant Cassandra Watts say Australia is an important base for international firms to recruit lawyers and is often the starting point.
"As the UK picks up, it will definitely come back in the Aussies favour because as the UK market picks up they will find that they actually have a skills shortage and the first place they will look is Australia," Watts says.
For Australian lawyers contemplating a career move, Walmsley suggests getting in touch now. He predicts there will be a number of departures from Australia prior to Christmas including a number of "boomerang moves" - where lawyers who returned from Australia prematurely during the global financial crisis reignite their international careers.
"Now that things are picking up, there is increasing interest in bouncing back from overseas moves," he says. "There were some lawyers who came back from the UK or from Asia because of the economic climate but they probably came back too early and [are] realising they are not ready to be back home yet."