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Career Guide: Legal Jobs Abroad

Written by: Joshua Boynton
Published on: 11 Mar 2022


  • Are you a lawyer considering applying for legal jobs abroad? If so, you’re not alone. Our 2021 Audience Insight Report revealed that 48% of the 800 respondents were willing to relocate for the right career opportunity. Although the number of respondents willing to move abroad has dwindled over the last couple of years – 22% would gladly make a European move, while 16% would consider a move to Asia – this is almost certainly the result of the ongoing pandemic.

  • Should You Explore Law Opportunities Abroad?

    In the past, it may have been normal to train, qualify, and retire at the same firm. Yet, that’s no longer the norm. There is an increasing acceptance that lawyers will move between firms throughout their career, and taking their expertise abroad is becoming increasingly common. This might come as a shock to you, as many professionals are unaware that it is possible to get a legal job abroad.

    If you fall into that more adventurous category of professionals, there are ample law opportunities abroad. Assessing and applying for international legal jobs might seem intimidating, but there are several approaches you can take to secure positions in desirable locations. For many who are newly entering the legal field, law graduate jobs abroad are a hot topic. This is an area that’s absolutely worth exploring.

    For those considering how to apply for jobs abroad, you have numerous options to choose from.

       1. Finding Legal Jobs Abroad Through Secondment
       2. Practising English Law Abroad
       3. Applying for Offshore Legal Roles
       4. Re-qualifying as a lawyer in another country
       5. The Pros and Cons of working abroad in the legal sector

  • Finding Legal Jobs Abroad Through Secondment

    Firms offer secondments that typically last somewhere between six months and two years. They are considered advantageous since they help lawyers learn about different clients, sectors, and business strategies. Since many law firms operate internationally, it’s possible that you could secure a secondment at one of their foreign offices.

    If you decide to pursue an international secondment, ensure that there are solid career development prospects attached. For those at a more senior level, consider whether taking time off will affect your internal promotion opportunities.

  • Practising English Law Abroad

    It might surprise you to learn that there are legal jobs abroad for UK lawyers – jobs where you can continue to practise English law. There are English law practices all over the world, with the Middle East among the most popular destinations.

    There are many benefits for those securing international law opportunities. One is that professionals can continue to take on work reminiscent of previous experience, but doing so while absorbing a new culture, climate, and set of customs. The experience gained abroad could even bolster your job prospects back in the UK.

  • Applying for Offshore Legal Roles

    The law practiced in many offshore jurisdictions, such as the Channel Islands or the British Virgin Islands, is broadly similar to English law.

    In addition to their own legislation, offshore legal authorities largely adopt the principles of Common law. The native legislation is relatively easy to get to grips with, while key documentation (including SPAs) bears a high level of resemblance to onshore documents.

    The benefits of such a move include exposure to innovative legal frameworks, with a helping of influential English case law. Aside from this familiarity, an exotic location as well as limited or non-existent tax requirements is a significant bonus.

    With this in mind, you should still take the precautionary measure of maintaining your client contact network back home. Although the transition from offshore to onshore is usually smooth, it makes obvious sense in setting yourself up well for opportunities in the UK, should you decide to return.

  • Re-qualifying as a Lawyer in Another Country

    Most people seeking legal jobs abroad are likely doing so in a way that does not require re-qualification. This comes as no surprise, as re-qualification is assuredly the most challenging option. It is a lengthy process that requires dedication and commitment, and trainees need to start from the very beginning. That means hours of studying, examinations, and training in order to attain that local qualification.

    Unfortunately, finding work can also be a challenge when taking this approach. Finding a firm to take you on without a solid background in that nation is sometimes a struggle. Given all of these obstacles, it makes sense that the majority of those seeking these jobs are people who are relocating for personal reasons. In the main, legal professionals are seeking English legal jobs abroad.

  • The Pros and Cons of Working Abroad in the Legal Sector

    You might be questioning whether finding graduate jobs abroad is realistic, or whether it’s worthwhile pursuing legal jobs abroad. Here are the pros and cons for making the move abroad:

    Key Benefits

    • The ubiquitous nature of English law means it’s possible to practice in many jurisdictions.
    • You’ll gain a broadened knowledge of other legal systems.
    • Low or no tax salaries at offshore firms bolsters your earnings.
    • Legal jobs abroad are an opportunity to experience a new culture and environment.
    • Foreign experiences can help to expand and challenge your world view.
    • International experience could make you a more desirable candidate in the UK.

    Potential Hurdles

    • The challenge of adapting to different local customs and legal principles.
    • Different financial and tax implications can be hard to decipher.
    • Language barriers are potentially problematic.
    • Obtaining necessary work permits is sometimes difficult.
    • Moving abroad can cause personal difficulties with family and friends.

    Determining whether it is possible to get a legal job abroad or whether it is the right thing for you to do is personal. Adventure, discovery, and expanding your horizons are clear positives, but keep in mind the personal, financial, and career-related implications of a move abroad. Discover the latest senior, entry-level, and graduate jobs abroad for legal professionals on TotallyLegal. Browse and apply for legal jobs in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. You can also find local legal jobs throughout the UK, in locations such as London, Manchester, Birmingham, and Scotland.