London calling loudest for lawyers with international aspirations

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Asia and the Middle East still present opportunities for aspirational Australian-trained lawyers looking for overseas experience, though a resurgence in activity in the London market currently presents the best job opportunities.
Mahlab (NSW) managing director Lisa Gazis told Australasian Lawyer London had “bounced back” significantly when compared with last year.
“Is it a boom? No. But it is a significant improvement on last year, and we expect that next year we’ll see an even better improvement,” she says.
The about-face has seen more opportunities for lawyers in London, as well as more demand from lawyers interested in looking at overseas roles.
Mahlab said roles in corporate and M&A, equity capital markets and projects and finance were the strongest opportunities for Australian lawyers at present.
Most current roles exist within the 3-5 year PQE band in London, which in Australian terms translates to between five and seven years’ experience.
“There are candidates like these around in Australia, but obviously it is never enough to fill the demand,” Gazis says.
“Part of that has to do with the benchmark for these firms is quite high, so the calibre of candidate required is concentrated in top tier or top middle tier practices. The pool ends up being quite small, and it can be competitive.”
While Mahlab has also seen a solid flow of lawyers returning from overseas who feel they have “done their time” in an international market, Gazis says the drivers behind candidates moving back to Australia have changed since two years ago.
“Lawyers were coming back then because they felt the market wasn’t strong enough, because the opportunities weren’t there, or perhaps they found themselves on the market as a result of restructuring.
“We are seeing fewer wanting to return now and more wanting to go; the decision to come back isn’t market-driven anymore.”
Opportunities also exist for lawyers in Asia and the Middle East, though Gazis says London’s turnaround has been more obvious to recruitment professionals.
Asia-based roles continue to prioritise language skills, particularly Mandarin, with Mahlab seeing current roles in Hong Kong, Singapore and Beijing.

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