As the global legal market has continued to boom over the last two years, no market has felt the effects more than Australia. A market renowned for the quality of its lawyers, it has struggled to compete with the rapidly increasing salaries elsewhere in the world and as a result, markets have moved their focus to attract Australian lawyers to meet their ever-increasing needs.
Locations such as London, the Middle East and Asia have long looked to Australia to fulfil its hiring needs, but it was in 2021/22 that we saw the US really take aim as well.
With the markets in New York, California, and DC unable to meet their needs with local hires, firms have switched their focus to other jurisdictions where they would be able to hire lawyers from. When you consider that the US is a notoriously difficult location for lawyers to obtain a visa, Australians (along with Canadians, Mexicans and Singaporeans) are in the unique position that they can obtain special visas to relocate – and in the case of Australians, the E-3 visa provides the answer.
As firms have turned their attention to Australians, we’ve seen dramatic increases in US salaries. With midlevel salaries up $40,000 USD since the start of the pandemic and significant sign on bonuses and relocation packages on offer, there has been a notable departure of lawyers to the US.
For Australian lawyers searching for excellent quality of work and a massive pay day it has become too good an option to resist, and with firms taking a proactive interest in the market, alongside global recruiters, it’s now easier than ever before for Australian lawyers to make the move.
Although we saw some delays on visas due to COVID and the market cooling at the start of 2022 as firms looked to hedge their people risk and refocus on local hiring, it soon became apparent there would again be a shortage. Focus has subsequently returned to the Australian market, something we don’t expect to subside for the rest of the year.
As a global specialist legal recruiter, we have spent over 20 years supporting lawyers to relocate around the globe. Our offices across the US and Australia have made us a key sounding board for firms and lawyers alike looking to take advantage of the status quo.