Speaking with Lawyers Weekly, Taylor Root manager Matt Harris said the recruitment firm started receiving interest from American lawyers looking at opportunities in Australia almost immediately after Donald Trump was announced as the President-elect.
“[Thursday] was the first full working day in Australia following the election results in the US and by 10 o'clock in the morning we'd received calls and emails from three lawyers based in the US, with two of them asking about opportunities in Australia and one interested in opportunities in Australia and Asia,” he said.
“Obviously we then contacted all three during the course of the day and danced around the subject, leaving it to the last minute to ask really what their true motivations were, but once we got to that point in the conversation all three of them said, 'No messing around, it is directly related to the news overnight of our new President'.”
One of the three has already progressed to the stage of making applications to firms in Sydney.
Mr Harris said Taylor Root doesn’t often see applications from US lawyers for Australian jobs, and he’d be lucky to place one American in and Australian firm a year.
“US lawyers are a very rare breed in Australia and we had three calls within an hour [on Thursday] morning,” he said. “So there are definitely Americans looking to get out of America or explore their opportunities outside of America.”
Given the uncertainty in the UK following Brexit, Mr Harris expects more US lawyers to look at Australia and Asia as the best options.
“We’re looking at this in terms of what’s going on globally and obviously there's no question that London isn't as welcoming as it once was,” he said.
“So then if remaining in the US is less of a positive thing than it once was, then you look at the world map and you're left with Asia and Australia.”
“With the recent announcements of White & Case arriving, well that timing is particularly useful to us because the announcement of a major US law firm opening its doors in Australia at a time when maybe some in America will be looking for a safe haven, that will be a useful combination of events.”
When asked if he expects Australian lawyers currently working the US to pack up and come home, Mr Harris said it’s likely they will wait a few months before making any moves.
“It’s very much like the Brexit whereby, technically speaking, nothing's actually happened yet. The vote has taken place but the actual impact of it hasn’t been felt,” he said.
“When suddenly the country that you're working in becomes a colder place, then if you were thinking about your future and your return home, it escalates those thoughts and it accelerates those thoughts.”
He continued: “You're not going to give up at the first breath of change but if, over the next couple of months and particularly once the presidency is handed over, if people's worst fears are confirmed or look like they're being confirmed, then that will be the time where people start to come home.”