We help lawyers to relocate into legal roles overseas as well as return to legal positions in Australia, and our consultants have worked on everything from single placements in Austria to large recruitment projects in Ireland, the UK and the Middle East. So if you are dreaming of working in New York, Shanghai, Singapore, or anywhere in between, our consultants are uniquely positioned to assist, with anything from job updates, through to relocation and salary advice.
Living and working in the UK has been a rite of passage for antipodean lawyers for many years. And although continental Europe continues to suffer from economic uncertainty, UK firms continue to rate Australian experience and work ethic highly.
We are seeing the main areas of demand in dispute resolution, banking and finance, information technology, and projects. There also continues to be residual demand in the UK magic circle for appropriately experienced M&A lawyers.
The Recruitment Process and Salary
The recruitment process remains unchanged in that it’s not uncommon for UK firms to discount up to two years’ of experience when considering the level of an Australian lawyer.
Some firms will hire remotely using video conferencing, but with reduced demand many firms wait until candidates arrive in the UK before making a hiring decision. It’s preferable if you have a visa lined up or ancestral working rights, although sponsorship still continues to be offered to suitable applicants.
The magic circle and major international players have also continued to demonstrate that they will pay top dollar to retain and attract top talent. Performance based bonuses are being used as an additional mechanism to acknowledge high performers at a more senior level.
Another consistent trend from last year is the remuneration disparity between US and UK law firms, with US firms generally offering higher remuneration packages.
Do I have the right experience for UK firms?
Generally speaking firms show a preference for candidates from the top tier in Australia with between 2 to 6 years’ practicing experience, although they will certainly consider appropriately experienced candidates from recognised boutiques. The common denominator is that you must have experience in Australia advising large listed corporates. Quality academics are also a must.
Visa Requirements for the UK
Unless you hold a recognised European Union passport you will need a visa to work in the UK. Common types include:
- Working Holiday Visa: Available for Australian citizens aged between 17 and 30 years of age; enables a stay of up to two years from the date of issue
- UK Ancestry Visa: You may be eligible if you have a grandparent born in either the UK, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or the Republic of Ireland; enables a stay of up to five years
- Highly Skilled Migrant Visa: Works on a points based system.
The UK Border Agency website offers up to date information regarding visa options.
Am I qualified to work in the UK?
Firms will generally encourage re-qualification and will usually provide financial support and study leave, however it is not strictly necessary and you should be able to work as a foreign qualified lawyer in any of the big UK firms under supervision of a Senior UK practitioner.
Litigators looking to practise in London though will usually need to be admitted in England and Wales in order to have leave to appear in Court.
Working in-house in the UK
Many Australian lawyers have obtained amazing experience working in-house in the UK. Moving directly from Australia into one of these roles however is rare. It’s much more usual to first take a UK Private Practice role and then use this as a stepping-stone into the in-house area.