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Planning an international legal move? A how-to guide…

Planning an international legal move? A how-to guide…

Many solicitors have a medium-long term plan to experience living and working overseas at some point in their career.

The process can often seem daunting, but the following tips may help you take the next step:

Career Audit

Due to the relatively quiet state of the market, now is a great time to stop and take stock of your current position.

It is amazing how many lawyers do not have a clear and succinct answer to the question – “what do you do for a living”? as sadly it is the nature of commercial practice that lawyers seldom have time between matters to self-reflect.

  • Think about your usual working week; what type of matters do you typically work on? What type of clients do you service? How many different members of your firm do you have exposure to? Are you a specialist or a generalist? What do you enjoy doing (and conversely, what do you always try to avoid!)?
  • Use your answers to draft an outline of your own job description. If your job description doesn’t match your aspirations, then perhaps it is time to consider a change.
  • Maintain a matter list, detailing your career highlights. With deals often coming thick and fast, it is easy to forget exactly what you did 3 months ago, notwithstanding the number of weekends you gave up!
  • Crystallising your thinking on what type of lawyer you are (or want to be), and having a handy reference guide to your own practice is fundamental in the next critical step – updating your CV.

If you are considering a move, it is likely that you will interview with a new firm at some point soon. The CV is their window on your practice, so use everything you have considered already to craft a document that shows not only what you do, but what you enjoy.

Practical Next Steps

Following your career audit, you may have realised that you are not where you want to be, either in terms of physical location or your career progression.

If the plan is to move overseas, there are lots of ways to make yourself stand out. Firms may have to justify making an international hire over a domestic lateral hire; the key is to make their decision a ‘no brainer’.

Some questions you may ask yourself:

  • Is my practice cross-border in nature, or does it lend itself to being so? Can I gain exposure to matters that involve my target jurisdiction?
  • Can I leverage my existing network (both internal and external) in order to increase my understanding of a new jurisdiction? Could the same contacts assist with boosting my profile?
  • Would I be able to explain clearly and logically why I am keen to relocate? (tip – if not, then revisit paragraph 1 above!).

If the answer to any of the questions above is not an automatic yes, then it may be worth considering partnering up with a specialist recruitment consultant who knows both your current market, and your target market inside and out.

A good recruiter should act as a pivot point for you – they will understand your market and experience, and will in turn guide you towards appropriate roles and pitch your background and skillset to the firm(s) in question.

At Montgomery, we benefit from being dual headquartered in London & Sydney and have placed lawyers all over the world in between. Several of our consultants are former lawyers (many of whom have moved internationally themselves, sometimes more than once).

 Useful pre-application tasks

 Once you have taken the plunge and mentally committed to exploring an international move with your recruiter, it’s time to start your own due diligence prior to making some applications.

  • Explore target firm websites. In addition to providing helpful background about practice groups and team members, this process will allow you to begin formulating questions you might like to ask in an interview.
  • LinkedIn is a very useful tool. Firms will publish all sorts of information about their teams, knowledge, client base and transactions, so start following your targets!
  • Read legal blogs & legal insider websites. While you have to take everything with a grain of salt, these resources can provide invaluable insight into the softer side of firms and may even provide answers to questions you wouldn’t want to ask in an interview.

Armed with this info, you are ready to go.


At Montgomery, we have a proven track record of assisting lawyers with international moves, and would be delighted to chat through the process in finer detail.

 If you have any questions, or would like to have an informal discussion about any of the above, please get in touch with me on LinkedIn or by email at glenn@montgomeryadvisory.co.uk.

Glenn Johnston

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