Planning for a move



This checklist will assist lawyers wanting to make the move overseas.


From the outset it is best to undertake some research on the economic and market conditions for a lawyer with your training and experience. This will assist in determining if your plans are realistic in terms of timing and options.

Many large international law firms have key criteria for recruits, namely:

  • Large firm training.
  • Strong academic results.
  • Experience in a transferable practice area, or a practice area that is in high demand.
  • Language skills (this applies to Hong Kong and China in particular).

The Countdown

Six months

  • Start drafting/refining CV.
  • Narrow down the field of potential destinations, ensuring you accord with the criteria for vacancies
  • Meet with a consultant at Mahlab to discuss market conditions, vacancies, employers and to finalise your CV. At this point you will be provided with tailored feedback regarding your potential in the international market and advice regarding your CV and opportunities.
  • Prepare your travel documentation (ensure you have a valid passport, or if eligible, an ancestry visa). Note that if you are recruited, firms are likely to arrange for your working visa and/or sponsorship. Check the Department of Immigration website for up to date information in this regard.
  • Consider administrative matters such as flights, accommodation, bank accounts, mobile phone etc in your destination of choice.

Two to three months

  • Undertake research regarding your options/vacancies and instruct your consultant to make applications on your behalf.
  • Be available for interviews (telephone or video conference/Skype).
  • Ensure personal issues are taken care of ie financial and legal matters. You may want to consider arranging a power of attorney.
  • Research travel options regarding flights and insurance.

One to two  months

  • Negotiate offers (in conjunction with your Mahlab consultant) from firms.
  • Once a written offer is received and accepted, tender your resignation.
  • Organise for your correspondence to be forwarded to your new address, cancel unnecessary ongoing correspondence (eg subscriptions), organise finances (eg direct debit).
  • Arrange accommodation at your destination and storage of items you are leaving behind.
  • File tax return.
  • Notify friends/family of your new contact details (address, phone, email).

Four weeks

  • If you are yet to secure a position, ensure your consultant knows your timetable ie arrival and availability for interview face to face with firms.
  • Confirm flight and accommodation details.
  • Arrange travel insurance.
  • Advise your bank regarding your travel.

Two weeks

  • Photocopy all important documents and leave with trusted friend/relative (and take a copy with you).
  • Contact your consultant or new firm with any last minute queries.

One week

  • Start packing!
  • Arrival at your destination.

Stay in contact with your consultant regarding ongoing interviews and/or contact your new employer.

Your consultant will be on hand to assist with last-minute queries and will stay in contact with you upon your arrival and on a regular basis to ensure you are settling in and enjoying yourself in your new role.