An Exodus of Top-tier Australian Talent Overseas

The grass looks greener in the UK and the US for Australian Lawyers!

Whilst from an overall legal perspective Australia seems to have handled the Covid-19 pandemic better than some of the major global economic powerhouses, the easing of restrictions and reopening of the Australian borders in February 2022 has meant that the Australian legal market now finds itself in a desperate need for Lawyers in a number of core practice areas.

Global talent shortages for Corporate, Banking & Finance, TMT, Project Finance and Construction Lawyers have led firms, both in the UK and the US, to start headhunting their good friends Down Under as they become increasingly appealing and in demand in the current unprecedented legal circumstances.

This desire from Magic Circle, Silver Circle, US and other top-tier international firms in the UK and the US to poach overseas talent has been well received by Australian Lawyers with open arms as they are increasingly drawn to make that move to either of these key legal hubs.

From a financial perspective, it seems like a no brainer for Australian Lawyers to make the jump overseas at some point in their legal career. Whilst Australian salaries have hit an all-time high in recent months, offering pay increases of up to 25% and hefty sign-on bonuses to junior Lawyers to switch firms, these figures are unable to match the jaw-dropping London and US salaries which are often double (if not triple!) what an Australian Lawyer would earn back home.

Yet, this is not the only driving factor which makes the move to the UK or the US even more tempting.

By making the transition abroad, Australians feel that this will benefit their career in the long run as well. Despite having a year or two shaved off their experience in order to learn the jurisdictional differences in the law and pass the relevant bar, Australian Lawyers are ultimately excited to work on bigger, more complex and cutting-edge deals which are governed by UK and US law, enabling an accelerated learning curve for junior and mid-level Lawyers. With these factors in mind, the increase in work hours associated with the move overseas, whereby weekend work is the norm and workday hours are consistently longer, seems worthwhile to Australian Lawyers given the possible career prospects and financial gain.

The ability to envision such a move is made all the more logistically plausible due to Australia’s privileged visa arrangements with the UK and the US. An E3 visa allows Australians to work in the US for a single employer for two years. Similarly, in addition to any Commonwealth citizen with a grandparent born in the UK having the right to work there for five years, a youth mobility visa taken before the age of 35 enables Australians to work for multiple employers for a period of two years in the UK.

It is clear that the seemingly never-ending restrictions made Australian Lawyers think about where they would like the next step of their career to take place. Australian Lawyers ultimately now hold all the cards to hand which could see the landscape of the Australian legal market suffer a severe drought in personnel as high-flying talents set their sights on a move outside of their beloved home Down Under.


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If you are a Lawyer who is looking to potentially make a move in Australia or wishes to explore a move overseas, feel free to contact William Whiteside Lopez at to hear more about the opportunities available to you.

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