Nathan Peart and Mikaela Orme of Major Lindsey & Africa consider the opportunities for Australian lawyers looking move to the Big Apple

The lateral associate market for Australian lawyers is on the rise, and any Australian lawyer considering a move to the Big Apple should take advantage of the opportunity.

For transactional lawyers, there has never been a better time to consider a move to New York. Thanks to the US-Australian Free Trade Agreement, a visa category exists for Australian citizens that makes sponsorship for law firms easier. Likewise, an increase in appetite from the market has started to see a number of firms that will look for Australian talent, particularly in the corporate, finance and projects space.

The Global Financial Crisis (GFC) saw decrease in junior hiring in the US and now, as deal flow is on the increase in the US, the number of qualified associates who have the experience to staff these deals at the mid-level is low. With an ambitious, well-qualified talent pool in Australia that is eager to gain some international experience and the reduced complexities of the visa process for Australian citizens, law firms in New York are increasingly becoming engaged with this talent pool. Likewise, given that Australia was hit considerably less by the GFC than other countries, there is a large pool of associates available for firms to look at.

Working in New York

The work quality in New York is outstanding. You will gain exposure to high-value, high-quality deals that will help strengthen your career. Practices tend to be more specialised than what you find domestically, but you will be able to leverage your M&A and private equity or specific finance experience well in this market. Whilst the working environment is high-pressured, you will have access to amazing support and development opportunities, including the opportunity to sit for the New York Bar exam. Likewise, having access to partner mentors who are at the top of their field will intellectually stretch you and increase your commercial acumen as a lawyer. There is a strong sense of responsibility given to associates in New York, along with an unmatched camaraderie. Finally, the money – salaries have recently increased and you will be paid on the New York scale – first-year associates are receiving salaries of approximately $180,000.

Most firms will allow you a settling-in period before you have to sit the bar exam, and there are a number of bar preparation courses that will help you prepare for the two-day exam.

The successful New York associate

Firms look for intellectual curiosity, outstanding academic credentials and natural ambition from potential new hires. Ideally, you should have a strong motivation for wanting to relocate to New York and be able to draw upon experiences friends have had making the move themselves. New York is a robust market to work in and it will be challenging; however, overall it will be rewarding.

Working with a recruitment team, like myself and Mikaela to make an international move, will give you an advantage in your search. A recruiter with strong ties to the US can guide and advise you through the interview, offer and relocation process as well as present you with a plethora of options to consider so that you can really find the right fit for you. If you are ambitious and driven, whilst wanting to experience living in a global hub that never sleeps, consider what New York can do for your career – quality work, amazing exposure and a platform for your future.


Nathan Peart
is a Consultant in our Associate Practice Group based in Hong Kong. He works closely with associates to help them make a lateral move into law firms in the Asia-Pacific region as well as internationally.
Tel: +852 3628 4633

Mikaela Orme
is an Associate in our Associate Practice Group, based in Sydney. She assists associates looking to make a lateral move within the domestic Australian market as well as those looking to move internationally. Her responsibilities include the provision of on-the-pulse legal market intelligence to Australian lawyers and law firms and to our private practice and in-house practice consultants.
Office: +61 2 9087 6877