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Making an overseas move in 2021? 10 things for you to think about and do now!

If you are thinking of an international move in 2021, here are 10 things you should be thinking about and doing now.

1.  Your level is important. By and large lawyers need a bare minimum of 2 years’ experience in Australia to secure a role overseas but better to have 2.5 or 3 years’ experience. Whilst it is theoretically possible to get a role with 2 years’ experience it is unlikely especially in a difficult market, a much better level to start considering things is when you have 3 or 4 years working at a firm due to the difference in qualification systems across jurisdictions.

2. The firm that you work at matters. If you are working at a firm that isn’t internationally recognised securing a role before you leave Australia might be difficult. Position yourself to get a role overseas from Australia by working at the biggest and most well- respected brand in the space that you operate. This may mean moving overseas is a two-step process which includes a move to a top tier, global or recognised national firm in Australia for at least 12 months before spreading your wings overseas.

3. If you are committed to an overseas move, and you are at a top tier or global firm and 2020 has delayed your plans, it is important that you don’t move into a new role here in Australia just for the sake of moving as it will only make it harder or delay your overseas move. It is worth remembering that even in a good market, it is very difficult to move overseas if you are working in-house or at a smaller national or boutique firm.

4.  Your practice area plays a big role. Generally speaking transactional lawyers will find making an international move easier. This doesn’t mean that advisory or litigation lawyers won’t get roles, but it may mean that the process will take a little longer or it may mean leaving Australia without a role to go to and trying your luck on the ground. You should also be aware that different practice areas naturally suit different locations. Ie – litigation lawyers do well off shore, energy lawyers tend to do well in Singapore etc.

5. Market conditions will play a massive part in your process. With global uncertainty around Covid and travel restricted it is difficult to predict what the market will be like in 6 – 12 months. The best way to insulate against market forces is to be working in the best firm you can be in Australia and continue to build on your experience until international markets open up.

6. Be open minded as to location. Whilst lots of lawyers want to work in London or New York perhaps it is worth considering options in other jurisdictions like Ireland, Jersey/Guernsey or even the Caribbean. Spend the next 6 months researching to make sure it is a location you want to live in.

7. Start to get your CV ready, whilst global uncertainty lingers, it is well worth getting your CV in order so that when recruitment activity picks up overseas you are ready to apply quickly.

8. Get organised. Arrange a copy of your academic transcripts (they will likely be required) and investigate any visas you may be eligible for or start applying for any foreign passports you may be able to hold.

9. Network with lawyers here in Australia who may have previously worked overseas and draw on their experiences so that you can be better prepared for your own move.

10. Speak to a recruitment agent. Contact a consultant that you trust and ask them about how you can best position yourself for a move. You may also ask about any openings they are working on and ask them to keep their eyes peeled for you.

To discuss your own situation and get some personalised advice please feel free to contact me for a confidential discussion on +61 413 823 687 or drop me an email


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