A guide for lawyers moving to Australia from the UK
Why is it a good time for UK lawyers to move to Australia?
It has long been the case in the London legal market that associates from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa head north to the City to fill junior and midlevel slots, particularly in transactionally focussed banking, finance and corporate departments.
This trend has generally arisen from a demand from City firms who lose associates to expanding and higher paying US firms active in London, as well from these US firms themselves. Post Brexit, while some US firms are taking opportunity of the strengthening of the US dollar against sterling to make selective hires, top line revenues are stalling at most firms who have transactional practices and recruitment by them is slowing.
Route1 is rapidly growing in both the UK and AsiaPac legal recruitment markets, and despite seeing lateral hiring slowing in the UK in the wake of Brexit, we are experiencing strong demand for 3+ PQE level transactional roles in Australia. There are a wide variety of jobs posted by Australian law firms across various cities within transactional practices such as Banking & Finance, Construction, Corporate, Energy & Resources, Insolvency, Intellectual Property, Property, Tax, Technology available for candidates to match with in the Route1 app.
We believe a new trend may be developing, where UK based associates will apply for roles in Australia. Our unique matching capabilities cover both the UK and Australian markets, ensuring we are well positioned to assist in this new development in the global legal recruitment market.
What do I need to do in order to move to Australia from the UK?
In order to work as a lawyer in Australia, there are three main considerations for a UK citizen:
– Work visa (sponsorship and cost)
– Relocation costs
– Qualification to practice law
Solicitors are on Australia’s “Skills Occupation List.” As a result, there are two pathways to enter the country to work as a lawyer – sponsorship by an employer for (i) a temporary work visa (subclass 457) which allows you to work in Australia for a maximum of 4 years or (ii) a permanent visa (subclass 186). In order to sponsor, the hiring firm must show that the job being offered to the UK lawyer could not be filled locally. Responsibility for payment of the cost of the visa (typically around AUD$1000) will vary by employer.
Relocation is another consideration – some firms will assist with coordination and costs, some will assist with coordination but not costs and some will assist with neither.
The process for overseas lawyers to be re-qualified to practice in Australia is governed by the state in which you will be working. In all states, you will be required to apply for an assessment of your qualifications but the assessment process will vary depending on your overseas admission status, legal education and legal experience. The fee for this assessment typically ranges from AUD $200 – $400. In the vast majority of cases, you will be required to perform additional legal study/practical training at an Australian University or with an Australian legal practice certificate service provider. You will not know what you will be required to do until the assessment is completed. In the meantime, you may practice under the supervision of an Australian legal practitioner. Again, responsibility for payment for the re-qualification process depends upon the sponsoring employer. Firms provide flexible working arrangements for lawyers to complete this process and the general consensus is that the training required is useful to the practice of law in Australia.
You are advised to look into visa, relocation and qualification procedures prior to applying for a job with an Australian firm and discuss these matters with the firm should your application progress to the interview stage.
How do I apply for legal jobs in Australia?
If you are interested in learning more about job opportunities available in Australia, you can download the Route1 app for free on the App store and Google Play. If you are already signed up to Route1, then set “Australia” as your location preference on the settings page within the app and you will be matched with job opportunities down under.
Read next: What Brexit will mean for lateral hires