The economic and political events of the year have had a notable effect on the UK’s legal recruitment activity. Restructuring and redundancies were reported in some corporate groups in early 2012 with the UK transactional markets being hit hardest by the economic downturn. As a result, the current state of play has been a catalyst for many English lawyers and Australian “returners” looking to return to a more prosperous legal market. Increasingly high competition for training contracts in the UK means that job seekers range from law graduate to senior solicitor level.
It is not just the lawyers that are looking to move to sunnier shores. In 2012 UK firms have capitalised on the prosperous Asia-Pacific market and entered into discussions with local firms in Indonesia, China, Singapore and South Korea. Several of the major international firms opened offices in Asia and formed alliances and mergers with Australian firms.
Economic instability in continental Europe has had an impact on the UK resulting in firms taking a more conservative approach to recruitment. Recruitment has been limited to areas of greatest need with dispute resolution, information technology and competition proving to be the areas of highest demand.
Continuing a trend from last financial year, UK firms continue to regard Australian trained lawyers very highly with a preference for lawyers coming from major Australian firms. The recruitment process remains unchanged in that it is not uncommon for UK firms to discount up to two years of experience when considering the level of an Australian lawyer joining a UK firm.
Salary increases were noted across a broad range of UK firms this year. The magic circle and major international players demonstrated that they will pay top dollar to retain and attract top talent. Performance based bonuses are being used as an additional mechanism to acknowledge high performers. The increase in salaries and bonuses underscores the push towards retention of talent rather than growing staff numbers.
Another consistent trend from last year is the remuneration disparity between US and UK law firms with US firms generally offering higher remuneration packages.
The influence of the Eurozone crisis on the UK legal market has resulted in a challenging 2011/2012 financial year, with corporate groups being hit hardest. It is predicted that firms will take a “client centric” approach and look to alternative fee arrangements that will in turn offer competitive costs to their clients. This may involve “value added services” such as client educational seminars, newsletters, e-alerts and an increase in legal process outsourcing.
Likewise, it is predicted with the UK market facing a challenging year, the “push to go global” will result in more domestic and international activity including an increase in mergers and alliances in the Asia-Pacific region.
Do I need a visa to work in London?
Yes you need a visa to work in the UK including the Working Holiday which enables a stay of up to two years from the date of issue. This visa is available for Australian citizen aged between 17 and 30 years of age. If you have a grandparent born in either the UK, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or the Republic of Ireland you may be eligible for a UK Ancestry Visa which enables a stay of up to five years. You may also be eligible for a Highly Skilled Migrant visa, which works on a points based system. The Department of Immigration website offers up to date information regarding visa options.
Am I qualified to work in London?
Firms will generally encourage re-qualification and will usually provide financial support and study leave. Litigators looking to practise in London will need to be admitted in England and Wales in order to have leave to appear in court.
What is my likely salary?
Data on the latest salary information is available on our website. It can be accessed from the Surveys page of our website.
Mahlab continues to be highly successful in placing lawyers in major firms throughout the world. Contact one of our experienced and highly trained international consultants who can help you find the right position.