Finding law jobs abroad can be a daunting prospect, but it can equally turn out to be a highly rewarding and exciting career move. Practicing law overseas requires a strong degree of flexibility, as you will be transferring to practice within another country’s legal system. Yet with the right combination of ambition, work ethic, and willingness to learn on the job, you will be well on your way to a successful legal career abroad.
Why Work Abroad
With the increasing globalization of some of the world’s most prestigious law firms, there has never been a more promising time to find legal jobs abroad. While obtaining a legal job abroad within multinational firms can be very competitive, the potential reward will easily match the initial time you invest in applying.
Seeking out legal opportunities abroad is not only a terrific career move, it will also greatly expand your cultural horizons and help you be able to work more effectively with a diverse range of clientele.
The location of jobs abroad really depends on the kind of law you want to practice or legal job you want to have. Most large multinational law firms retain a strong presence in the world’s premier global cities, such as London and Paris in Europe, Tokyo and Singapore in Asia, or Dubai in the Middle East. These cities are huge players in the international marketplace, so there is a large demand for attorneys in various subfields of corporate law. These top tier global cities (which also include the likes of New York, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Sydney) are also good places to search international law jobs abroad.
Of course if you are fluent in a language other than English, this skill alone opens up a whole new world of opportunities for legal jobs abroad. While learning the ins and outs of a different country’s legal framework can certainly be a demanding responsibility, by speaking the native language fluently you will gain access to a larger body of legal jobs overseas, which are not available to most Anglophones.
Law Jobs Abroad
The key to finding legal jobs overseas is the same as at home: volume and persistence. Law jobs at top multinational firms are extremely competitive, so if you are just beginning your legal career then do not expect to be hired in a top position for your first job. Instead focus on aggressive networking and a good reputation in the workplace, and get out your application to as many firms as possible.
The most widely available law jobs for aspiring international attorneys tend to be in the realms of corporate and financial law. As the forces of globalization march on, more and more companies from around the world continue to expand overseas, and so there is a large need for legal professionals to navigate the increasingly complex global marketplace.
You can also find legal jobs abroad in such sectors as real estate law, securities law, and international law. These types of positions generally judge applicants based on prior professional experience in the legal field, as well as additional factors, such as language proficiency and cultural familiarity.
Lastly, legal jobs abroad in sectors like criminal law, constitutional law, and other branches heavily grounded in the political system are generally withheld for native practitioners.
Salary & Affordability
Salaries for legal jobs abroad will typically remain on par with one another across borders, at least relatively. For instance, patent lawyers and corporate lawyers are some of the highest paid legal professionals almost anywhere in the world. Additionally, multinational firms tend to pay their employees at similar rates globally, with perhaps some minor variation according to regional living expenses.
The main difference is how far your salary will take you. Practicing law in Beijing or Shanghai, for example, will enable you to lead a more luxurious lifestyle for the simple fact that most costs of living in China are significantly cheaper than in the Western world. Base salary and living expenses should be high on your list of factors to consider when deciding where to look for legal jobs abroad.
Great Opportunity. International and corporate law jobs are some of the best paying and most highly respected legal careers out there, so if you are looking to work abroad in law, why not look in the center of the spotlight?
Love the Expatriate Life. Whether you are looking for a legal job abroad as a stepping stone, you are in a transitional period, or you want to begin a full fledged career abroad, it is likely that you will fall in love with the expatriate lifestyle. There is something perpetually exciting about waking up everyday on the other side of the world.
Build Your Resume. Wherever you end up down the line, a legal job overseas on your resume will look great to future employers. It shows them you have the ambition, work ethic, and adaptability that it takes to be successful in the field of law.