Moving overseas – How to plan to make it happen
The international market has always been an attractive option for lawyers seeking to build on their skills and experience in a jurisdiction – not to mention the opportunity to travel and earn foreign dollars. Here are a few helpful things you may want to consider before you go:
Many lawyers know early on in their career that an international move is something that they will want to eventually do. If you happen to fall into this category, then you need to be making plans well before that day comes around. Once you have settled as a graduate lawyer into your area of practice, you can begin to build up a unique set of skills that you can bring with you, when you transfer across to a firm overseas. Firms in jurisdictions like the USA, UK and Asia prefer lawyers that have had exposure to a variety of work that is both domestic and internationally “flavoured” – whatever the practice area.
Although it may seem obvious, having your CV up to date is an absolute must. Your CV is your main selling tool (besides yourself!), so it needs to be current and “client ready”. Trying to pull it all together last minute is not the best tactic, as your recollection of matters that you have worked on will naturally, over time, not be as detailed and accurate. It is best to continually update your deal sheet or matter list as you go along.
As with any big decision you make (especially when it comes to your career) you need to make sure that you do your homework.
It is easier to narrow down a search than to expand it out, so take the time to read up on a jurisdiction before you decide to move there. You need to think about the “why” question around this. What are the key motivations for you making the move in the first place? Is it about the type and scope of work, the reputation of a firm, the legal industry itself or perhaps just the opportunity that the location offers (i.e., Dubai with its tax-free living, London and its access to Europe or New York and its amazing sights)? Everything needs to be factored in, as you will be living and working in this new destination – not just transiting through as a tourist!
There is no perfect time to make a move, however you can give yourself a good head start if you think ahead. Certain times of any normal year can be more favourable than others, i.e., holiday periods in places like the US and UK tend to create lengthier recruitment processes.
Unless you have the necessary visa or passport to hand, it is also worthwhile reading up on the different requirements for entry into each jurisdiction. You should look into any requalification process and/or bar exam that you may need to undertake if you want to practice as a lawyer in the country you relocate too as well.
Taking the leap of faith and making the move overseas can feel overwhelming, however with some basic check list preparations done well in advance, you will be more than well equipped to undertake your journey.