Here at Chadwick Nott, we are incredibly busy because most of our law firm clients are up to full capacity (albeit still working partly from home rather than in the office full-time) and are actively looking for top lawyers to service their very busy client base. We are very regularly speaking to our key clients (mostly premier UK or global law firms) and have got some good insights into why they are actively looking for stellar Australian and New Zealander lawyers.
- As a financial centre, London is doing extremely well and the need for hiring top tier talent is becoming greater. London law firms are no exception.
- Is now a good time to start looking? Yes! London law firms have navigated the post-Brexit changes and the current Covid-19 environment extremely well and with restrictions due to be lifted by the end of June, it's hiring season!
- Hiring partners in London are now surprisingly often sceptical about lawyers moving from one top tier firm in London to another. There is a preconceived idea that people could be underperforming at their current London firm and are being managed out. They understand why lawyers would move from Australia or New Zealand to this world-leading financial centre. It's a big step up in terms of scale, and lawyers can't move with their own firm.
- Hiring partners, particularly in transactional groups, are often more inclined to hire a lawyer with a top tier firm background and strong academic record from Australia or New Zealand than they would a lawyer with a less stellar academic record in the UK or from a lower tier firm in the UK.
- There's also the visa situation that comes into play. Australian and New Zealand nationals have special visa rights for the UK and can gain entry relatively easily through a Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa. However, to work in the UK in a permanent role you need sponsorship from a UK firm, an Ancestry Visa, or Permanent Leave to Remain. Top tier London firms are far more likely to sponsor!
- The quality of work undertaken by the law firms in London is second to none, with many firms boasting top domestic and international instructions and a client list of the most impressive blue-chip and household names. There are also many opportunities to work as an in-house lawyer with asset managers, investment banks, and FTSE 100 companies.
- The exchange rate for both the Australian and New Zealand dollar to the pound is still favourable and with the higher London salaries, it generally makes even more financial sense why Australians and New Zealanders would want to come and work in London. Salaries for a newly-qualified lawyer start at £110,000 in the Magic Circle and £145,000 in the top tier US firms. As a rough guide, a lawyer from Australia and New Zealand with 2 years’ PQE will have the 2 years discounted from their level of experience to fit in with their UK-trained contemporaries and will be viewed as the equivalent of a newly-qualified solicitor.
- The biggest demand in London firms seems to be junior to mid-level lawyers who will join firms as 1st – 3rd years. For most lawyers, taking a haircut in class year doesn't mean a pay cut. It's mostly still an increase in their current remuneration package, particularly when bonuses are taken into consideration and with exchange rates playing a part.
- Transactional lawyers are still the lawyers who are most likely to be successful in making a move to London. M&A, Private Equity and Funds teams are all very busy. We know we can place specialist and generalist banking & finance lawyers. We now also have clients who will consider strong Australian and New Zealand lawyers in Real Estate Finance, Litigation, Tech Transactions and Corporate Insurance.
Top London firms want to know that they are recruiting the best. They operate at the top of the market and they pay extremely well for the privilege of knowing they are buying the best people. They are comforted by the fact that you were a top performing student at a top law school and now you're working with one of the best firms in your market. If you fall into this very narrow range of lawyers, we would like to talk to you about your career in London.
For careers information about London which is personal to you please, contact me.
DDI: 0203 937 8452
Niall specialises in the headhunting of high-profile lawyers and teams. He has a strong background in managing the international recruitment process, particularly for Australian, NZ, UK, US and Canadian qualified solicitors. After completing a Masters in Marine Biology in Australia & NZ, Niall moved to the UK in 1997 where he qualified as a solicitor in the private equity practice of King & Wood Mallesons, before moving into the world of recruitment.