RedLaw Consultant, Theo Varcoe, has helped a number of lawyers in their move from Australia and New Zealand to the UK.
Here are his top 5 tips for candidates moving from Australia and New Zealand to London:
1. Get your visa organised
Law firms will need to know what rights you have to work here and whether they need to sponsor you or not. The 2 year tier 5 youth mobility visa is standard. Having ancestral or longer term rights through a spouse or equivalent may make a move easier – by saving a firm the cost and administrative time involved in sponsorship. However, larger international law firms are prepared to offer sponsorship so do highlight this to your agent at the outset.
2. Time your move – who should move now?
The market in London for Australians and New Zealanders is constantly evolving. Currently there is strongest demand for solicitors with experience of Planning, Infrastructure Projects, Real Estate Development and Finance. There is also some demand for corporate. Solicitors specialising in other areas of practice will struggle at present.
3. Know your market
The London legal market is mature and sophisticated with over 300 law firms ranging from larger US and international firms through to boutiques and specialists. As well as deciding to come to the UK it’s also important to find the right role at the right firm. This is where engaging an experienced and trusted agent in London can make the crucial difference. Depending on your experience, a knowledgeable agent can match you to the most suitable firms – even those that aren’t actively recruiting.
Finding the right firm means that you will get what you want out of your time in London be it: first class deals and cross-border work to enhance your career prospects, balanced hours and pay so you can make the most of Europe, or whatever is most important to you whilst in London.
4. Be realistic
Australian and New Zealand solicitors often have to take a cut in seniority when changing jurisdictions. The graduate system gets you into your preferred practice area sooner compared to undertaking a UK training contract which takes 2 years. Accordingly, expect to have sometimes 1 and sometimes 2 years deducted from your “PQE” (post-qualification experience). Ordinarily you wouldn’t actually have to take a cut in pay based on an exchange rate basis but you may be paid the equivalent of a more junior England & Wales qualified solicitor with the same number of years PQE.
5. Arrive and interview
The market is good for the practice areas listed above under item 2. Get your visa organised and get over to London! All the solicitors with whom I have worked do get roles here in London. The best way to show commitment to the move is to arrive in London. Firms can arrange vidcons and phone calls but the best way to present yourself is in person. If you have strong experience in the above practice areas from a top-rated antipodean firm then seize the day and call me for an initial confidential discussion.