The market in New York remains depressed. Salaries at the major firms have remained the same as pre GFC levels – which is still very attractive from an Australian and New Zealand point of view. Overall, however, associate compensation has gone down as no Spring bonuses were paid and the end of year bonuses were low. Even though major firms have kept to their salary bands, in New York, graduate salaries have reduced by 35% in the past two years. Outside of the major law firms, salaries dropped significantly.
Recruitment in New York remains very tight. The current employment rate for graduates in the US is lower than it has been in 17 years. Whilst the firms are still hiring, it is really only in very discrete roles. There is a preference for lawyers who have completed their degrees at a top US law school or have studied an LLM at one of these universities. Lawyers who have local experience also have an advantage. Where there are openings, Australian and New Zealand lawyers from top practices who have impeccable academic results are still able to secure roles.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need a visa to work in the US?
Australians and New Zealanders need visas to work in the US. Applications can be made through the US consulates. For more information go to the US Embassy.
Am I qualified to work in the United States?
Most states in the US require lawyers working in the state to be admitted in that state. Each state in the US has its own requirements for bar admission. Some have tougher requirements than others. In some states, foreign lawyers would need to complete a US law degree (Juris Doctor) to be eligible for admission in the US.
Australians and New Zealanders are eligible to sit the New York and California bar exams without doing any further study. Offers from US firms tend to be conditional upon lawyers passing the exam (although normally there is more than one attempt allowed). Many lawyers sit the bar exam before they commence working with the firm. There are on-line bar review courses.