Where can you see yourself next?

The UK Lawyers are on their way!

The UK Lawyers are on their way!

Calling all passengers on Flight 101 to Sydney (from London)!

From hard lock down at the start of October, it is remarkable to think that international travel will be a possibility from November.  With the world opening up to travel we should start to once again see visas granted to legal professionals looking to relocate to Australia.

UK lawyers were buoyed by the news in July of the post-Brexit trade agreement with Australia that set out the intention for UK lawyers to be able to practise in Australia without the need for requalification.  While the details and logistics continue to be sorted out behind the scenes with the respective law societies, it is only a matter of time before this is rolled out.

Over the past 12 months we have received unprecedented enquiries from UK qualified lawyers looking to make a move to Australia; most likely due to the realities of life in lock down in an overpopulated country, with very average weather!  This is great news for Australian law firms under increasing pressure to both retain and hire staff in an extremely competitive legal market.  With M&A activity not predicted to slow down in the next 18 months, demand for transactional lawyers, in particular, will continue to be strong.

An influx of foreign qualified legal talent from the UK will be welcomed like never before and will hopefully offset the recent, and likely continued, movement of Australian lawyers to the UK, US, Asia and Middle East.  Easier access to work visas will also see South African, Hong Kongese, Singaporean, US, Canadian and European lawyers making the move to Australia in 2022.

Some smart firms are already ahead of the curve and have started interviewing and even hiring international lawyers with a view to sponsoring their visa application for a 2022 start.  The rest of the market will soon catch up and from there it will just be a processing issue with the Department of Immigration; but expect foreign qualified lawyers to start landing in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane from February 2022.

Until the floodgates open again, I thought I would provide a few quick tips that would be good to implement to keep your current team in good shape before the reinforcements arrive:

  • Treat your team with respect.  Respect is not commanded or demanded; it is earned.  Failure to understand this will see you lose staff over the next 6 months;
  • Ensure your staff are being paid at the appropriate market rate;
  • If you have a ‘discretionary’ bonus system; make it a good one this year and perhaps pay it out of cycle before Christmas.  Everyone knows the majority of law firms had record profits last financial year and this trend will continue, so spread the love;
  • While people love flexible working they are also in need of more human contact.  We are social creatures by nature.  Take your team out for a lunch, put on some drinks and partake in team building exercises as people start to make their way back into the CBD;
  • Organise 1:1s with your team.  Have an honest conversation around how they found lock down, what challenges they faced and the areas of management they are currently struggling with.  Pressure test how they are handling the increased workload and most importantly take the time to listen to them.

Ironically, one positive of COVID and remote working is the increased understanding in the value of staff.

As the saying goes ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ or is it wander?…

Sam Gray

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