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Overseas destinations for Australian lawyers

15th November 2010
By Scott Jamieson in Legal
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The unique nature and specifications of many countries' legal systems and lawyer qualifications can make law a difficult career to transfer internationally. Many Commonwealth countries, however, share the Common Law system, which makes it easier for lawyers to relocate internationally and continue to practice law. If you’re an Australia lawyer here are some of the destinations where it is possible to re-qualify and work overseas.

- England. England, and particularly London, remains at the top of the destination list for Australian lawyers that wish to relocate. It is common for England based law firms to sponsor Australian lawyers seeking a longer-term position. Otherwise, eligible Australian citizens can obtain a two year working visa (it must be applied for before turning 30). Australian lawyers wishing to practice in England must register with the Law Society of England and Wales as a Registered Foreign Lawyer. To practice as a solicitor or barrister there are various tests that Australian lawyers need to pass, that will depend on their personal qualifications and experience. Australians have a long history of relocating to London, and London legal jobs continue to be receptive to Australian lawyers. While living costs may be higher that Australian cities, so too are salaries.

- Hong Kong. Hong Kong is generally very welcoming to foreign lawyers, and many law firms frequently sponsor international lawyers for long-term contracts. It is easier, however, for lawyers with more than five years experience to gain employment in Hong Kong legal jobs. Low tax rates and high salaries compensate for the high cost of living in Hong Kong.

- Singapore. Singapore is also receptive to Australian lawyers, but work will most likely be secured with ‘offshore’ firms, as most of these firms do not require overseas qualified lawyers to be admitted to the Singapore Bar in order to practice. Singapore, like Hong Kong, has amongst the lowest personal tax rates in the world, making it a lucrative career destination for relocating lawyers.

- New Zealand. Australian lawyers will face very few barriers when seeking work in New Zealand. Australian lawyers do not require visas or work permits to work in New Zealand and the Mutual Recognition Act enables Australian Solicitors or Barristers to apply for automatic admission in New Zealand.
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