NATIONAL IMMIGRATION consultancy, Fragomen Australia, is on the road to becoming Australia’s first national immigration law firm.
The consultancy has just been officially recognised as a law firm by the Law Society of New South Wales and it expects other states to follow suit in the near future.
Fragomen Australia provides immigration advice and assistance primarily to corporate clients who are relocating employees internationally. It is part of the international commercial immigration consultancy, Fragomen Global, which is already recognised as a full-service law firm in the UK, US and Europe.
According to Robert Walsh, the firm’s managing partner in Australia, the firm’s decision to apply for law firm status was in part due to the changing nature of immigration regimes internationally and the expectations of clients.
“The market is generally looking for more legally-based advice because the immigration regime in Australia, and in fact around the world, is now a lot more about compliance — about monitoring and about knowing the rights, responsibilities and obligations of employers and individuals. Arguably there’s a lot more risk management required … and once you get into that sort of territory, you know they want to talk to lawyers,” he said.
The firm employs a mix of legally qualified and non-legally qualified registered migration agents. The basic distinction, Walsh explained, is that while all registered migration agents can give general immigration advice and assistance regarding visa applications, only those who are legally qualified can give legal advice in relation to any administrative or judicial proceedings. By becoming officially recognised as a law firm, Walsh explained, Fragomen will be able to “position itself in the market as a full-service immigration law firm who can handle whatever issues they have across the immigration spectrum.”
He also believes that the move is an important step in terms of enabling the organisation able to attract and retain good employees. “Being a law firm and being able to provide the full range of services … [gives] us a good chance of keeping good staff and challenging them with interesting work and a variety of work which, maybe, they otherwise would not be able to do — particularly the law graduates,” Walsh said.
Fragomen provides a somewhat unique service in that it targets predominately corporate clients rather than individuals. According to Walsh, demand for that service is growing as companies and the workforce become increasingly globalised.
“Just as capital roams the world looking for the best home, I think a lot of skilled workers and professionals look around the word and say ‘where’s the best opportunity for me?’ And also a lot of companies are far more globalised than they were previously.
“I think our organisation is contributing to creating a ‘flat world’ which will allow companies to move people around [wherever] they want to send people, no matter how exotic or challenging it might be” he said.
The firm’s been growing
strongly having doubled its employees over the last four years. It now has 120 staff across five offices nationally. Together with the rest of Fragomen Global, which has another 24 offices worldwide, it’s a force to be reckoned with. “Without exaggerating we can now provide immigration and visa support and advice for virtually any jurisdiction in the world where a company wants to move an employee,” Walsh said.