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Migrating to Australia - Understanding the Australian Legal Market

14th January 2011
By Scott Jamieson in Legal
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The Australian legal market is one of the most competitive in the world, and Australian lawyers are in high demand from international firms. The Australian market is also interested in and receptive to international lawyers especially from countries like the UK and New Zealand where the legal systems are structured similarly. If you’re considering making the shift to the Australian legal world, here’s a brief market overview and what you can expect from living as a lawyer in Australia.

- Market Overview

The Australian legal market is made up of a mix of law firms and in-house lawyers. Australia has a relatively small number of large leading law firms, most of which have offices in the major cities. While there is also a number of boutique, smaller Australian law firms specialising in specific areas of law, it is generally these larger firms that hire international lawyers. But this is not the only option for foreigners looking for legal jobs in Australia. The in-house legal sector in Australia continues to grow and positions are available across a broad spectrum of industries. International lawyers with expertise in specific areas – such as corporate or banking and finance law – are in demand from in-house legal teams.

Sydney and Melbourne are considered the busiest legal centers in the country, however other capital cities such as Brisbane and Perth and rapidly growing.

- Qualifications

The qualifications needed for those wishing to practice law in Australia differ between the states and territories. Foreign lawyers, however, will require a work permit or sponsorship from a company. Most lawyers who move to Australia will do so with a sponsorship and relocation package.

- Salary

Australian salaries are delivered as packages which include a base salary and a superannuation payment, referred to as ‘super’ by Australians. International workers in Australia – including lawyers – will also most likely be eligible for a Living Away from Home Allowance through which international workers can reduce their taxable income by deducting their rent and other expenditures from their earnings.

- Lifestyle

While Australian legal salaries may not be as high as some other leading work cities, the cost of living can be significantly lower, making salaries more lucrative and attractive. Furthermore, many lawyers that are relocating to law jobs in Australia enjoy lifestyle changes such as warmer weather and climate, reduced commute times and of course the relaxed Australian way!

If you’re interested in the Australian legal market and pursuing an international career there are a number of avenues through which to make the move whether you work for an Australian firm or on an in-house legal team. There are also a small handful of international firms based in capital cities (usually Sydney or Melbourne).

Where in Australia will your legal career take you?
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