Some law students looking for clerkship and graduate opportunities see new foreign entrants to the market as riskier options than the traditional, well-established Australian firms.
As Allen & Overy's (A&O) inaugural summer clerks finished up their time with the firm last week, it was revealed that securing a position with the firm was, for some, seen as a gamble.
"Some of [my peers] thought coming to A&O was riskier than going to a big Australian firm," said A&O summer clerk and University of Sydney student Alison Cranney.
"They asked me whether I was worried that [the firm] would fail in the first couple of years and that I would be left jobless."
Fellow summer clerk and University of New South Wales student Joseph Lam found himself answering similar questions.
"People were asking whether A&O would pick up and leave after a year or so," he said.
But for both Cranney and Lam, the opportunity to work with a Magic Circle firm on Australian soil was too great to pass up.
"I was absolutely positive, before I even turned up to the first-round interview, that [A&O] is where I wanted to work," said Cranney.
"I did quite a bit of research about the firm overseas and I liked the business model ... I knew that A&O had never closed an office before and that all the offices they had opened had done really, really well. I was [also] aware that in the legal market there were a lot of murmurings about international firms coming, and I was concerned that the big Australian firm model might not be something that would work in the next ten years, so I felt more comfortable coming here."
Despite some obvious trepidation amongst law students, it is obvious that A&O still has a powerful allure, with the firm receiving over 550 summer clerkship applications even before it was revealed that successful clerks would be spending one week in an Asian office of their choice.
And according to both Cranney and Lam, getting a foot in the door with a global firm is the way of the future.
"People are becoming more aware of the international opportunities, and certainly the international aspect of a firm has a higher premium when people are considering which firm they want to go to," said Cranney.
"I think increasingly people want to work at firms with an international presence."
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