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London Report 2011: How to land a role in London

London Report 2011: How to land a role in London

Banking and finance lawyers rejoice - it's all about you! This year's hot-to-trot practice areas are all banking-related, with roles in general banking, leveraged finance, projects and asset…

Banking and finance lawyers rejoice - it's all about you! This year's hot-to-trot practice areas are all banking-related, with roles in general banking, leveraged finance, projects and asset finance - particularly in relation to infrastructure, mining and trade, shipping and aviation - making up the bulk of available positions in the London market.

Not into banking? Fear not. There is still a decent level of demand for employment lawyers, particularly those with experience in the pensions space, as well as property, M&A and private equity, debt capital markets and equity capital markets lawyers.

Still not convinced? The good news is that commercial litigation positions are also remaining steady, as are roles in intellectual property and telecommunications.

Landing that London role

According to James Franklin, the manager of the legal division at Robert Walters in London, some of the best things Australian lawyers can do in preparation for landing a London role are:

  • Make sure you have strong academics from a well-regarded university;
  • Secure a position in a well-known law firm in Australia (preferably in the top tier, or close to it);
  • Take up a secondment within a large, well-known company;
  • Specialise in a particular practice area (due to the nature of London firms, those with a more general CV are not necessarily viewed as stronger candidates than those who choose to specialise); and
  • Be open to accepting temporary or contract positions in order to get a foot in the door. Once you are in the UK market you are more likely to get a permanent job.

The current state of recruitment

When it comes to the chances of scoring a role in London, there is both good news and bad. The good news is that the legal services market is a lot stronger than it was last year. The bad news is that it is still not fantastic.

"The legal services sector is pretty busy at the moment," says Franklin. "It's a good time. It's not the most amazing of times, but it is certainly better than what it was last year."

Luckily, there happens to be a silver lining to this lingering grey cloud.

"The UK economy is growing, but slowly in comparison with what is happening in Asia," adds Franklin. "We are seeing more roles but it is not a flood of roles. We expect that 2012 is going to be much stronger. Start looking at next year and start making investigations now as to what the possibilities are for next year."

Immigration issues

If you're not lucky enough to have a European ancestry visa, here are a few things you'll need to know:

  • You will need a visa. If a law firm wants to hire you, they can apply to sponsor you under a Tier 2 visa. Recent changes to the UK's immigration policies mean that each firm has a quota of Tier 2 visas.
  • You may also qualify for a visa without having to be sponsored. A Tier 1 visa, formerly known as the Highly Skilled Migrant Program visa, is a four-year visa which will allow you to work within your own area of expertise.

London Report 2011

>> London Report 2011: Global firms as stepping stones to the UK

>> London Report 2011: Taking the 'homegrown' route to London

>> London Report 2011: What to expect when you get there... and when you return home

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