AUSTRALIA’S LABOUR market will increasingly demand more from immigration lawyers, according to Sydney-based law firm Maddocks, which last week established a new immigration practice with the recruitment of an entire specialist team.
Specialised immigration law advice is increasingly critical as Australia’s labour market tightens and the working-age population shrinks, according to partner Maria Jockel, who has just transferred from Gadens Lawyers to lead Maddocks’ new immigration team.
Immigration lawyers will be required to address the complexities of the Australian immigration system and ensure the vitality of Australian businesses, said Jockel. She suggested that law firms that do not consider immigration as an important area will increasingly miss out on an increasingly significant amount of work.
There is “absolutely no doubt” that immigration is the cornerstone of Australian economic policy, said Jockel. There are 143,000 foreign students in Australia, making up 10 per cent of the student population. These students contribute $5.5 billion to the education sector, according to Jockel’s figures.
“Then there is the broader migration program,” she said. Australia has a “slightly above zero population growth [plus] it has some skill shortages,” she added.
Australia will see a growth in this area of law as the global climate changes, Jockel said. “We are part of a global village where money moves across borders easily, and with that comes the movement of people.”
According to Jockel, this area of law is under appreciated by the legal community. Although it is a “dynamic growth area”, the practice sees its greatest competitors as accounting firms rather than other law firms. Accounting firms, she argued, appreciate the value of having immigration law services within the business to provide a holistic approach to the service they provide.
She said Gadens Lawyers, where she was previously employed, also appreciated that this specialised law advice gave breadth and depth to their services.
“Immigration has been nourishing Australia in a major way since the end of World War Two,” she said. “with more than six million settlers bringing an array of economic, social and cultural benefits over the last 50 years.”
Jockel said she is pleased to have joined Maddocks’ workplace relations group and is looking forward to providing advice and solutions to a range of multinational and national corporations that are bringing skilled personnel to Australia.
Maddocks’ workplace services group, headed by partner Ross Jackson, now comprises three partners and 15 lawyers. It is planning further expansion.