London calls for more Aussie lawyers
Distinct similarities between Australian and English law are creating unique opportunities for Australian lawyers to break into the London legal market, according to two firms and one recruitment agency.
Speaking to Lawyers Weekly, Allen & Overy London associate Michael Gorrie said Australian lawyers are in high demand in the big smoke’s legal market, given their high standard of legal education and the similarities between Australian and English law.
“For a long time, Australian lawyers have been held in high regard in London,” Mr Gorrie said.
“This is testament to the quality of Australian legal training, the quality of lawyers trained in Australia and the relative similarity between Australian and English law.
“Because of that, the London market is fairly accessible to Australians – both at the graduate level and as laterals.”
Mr Gorrie knows first-hand the experience of jumping ship to work in London, having taken up the opportunity when it was presented to him by his firm.
“I had worked with Allen & Overy for a few years and was keen to stay with the firm, so began discussions with my supervising partners in Australia about an overseas secondment. I have since extended my secondment and the firm has been very supportive,” Mr Gorrie said.
Since he began working in London, Mr Gorrie said he has been presented a number of unique opportunities, which he noted are available to other Australian lawyers if they choose this career path.
“As more international firms enter the Australian market, there is now an opportunity to continue working for the same firm, in their London office. This presents substantial opportunities to develop deeper relationships with colleagues in other parts of the world, and maintain and build on existing relationships with colleagues in Australia,” he said.
“The London market is also much larger than the Australian market in a lot of ways – the number of lawyers, the size of deals done out of London or subject to English law, and the size of disputes heard by the English courts are just some examples.
“With that critical mass of people, investment and dispute comes a great chance to meet people from different backgrounds working in the profession, exchange views, learn from others’ experiences, and develop personally and professionally in a very different way to how you would or could if remaining in the same city or firm in Australia.”
Current market conditions, including the impact of Brexit, have also created more opportunities for Australian lawyers looking to make the move, according to K&L Gates London administrative partner Tony Griffiths.
“If we leave to one side the resolution of the critical Brexit question of whether the UK will decide to opt for EU market access or immigration controls, the London market will continue to need lawyers who are internationally focused,” Mr Griffiths said.
“Cost constraints as well as the fiercely competitive market will demand that lawyers become more innovative and less execution-focused than previous generations, but London’s international position and reputation demands continued appetite for non-UK trained lawyers.”
This sentiment was echoed by Hays Legal senior manager Lindsy McGowan, who said there are certain practice areas in particular that are calling for more Australian lawyers.
“Overall there is a high demand for top-quality candidates across the city. Australian lawyers looking to move overseas can and should take advantage of this continued desire for skilled legal professionals,” she said.
“The practice areas in which we are currently seeing the highest demand are employment, litigation, pensions, financial services, regulatory and banking.
“Traditionally, the majority of overseas lawyers placed in the London market have been in the banking, finance, energy, IT and construction sectors.”