Make the Move – Working as a Lawyer in London
Kevin Sinnott, Managing Director

Saying ‘good night’ and ‘good morning’ on the same phone call may sound quite crazy… one might think at first, how is it possible to stay on the phone for a whole day? However, in the life of an Australian immigrant who is close to his family in Europe, it is just your average phone call on your commute to work.

Having lived in New York, London and now Sydney, I have Apple (not the fruit) to thank for being able to turn my phone calls into video calls – which now means my parents can watch the sunrise in Sydney as they head to bed in Galway, Ireland!

I loved living in London. It is such a cosmopolitan, diverse and exciting city, and in terms of career opportunities, it knows no bounds. London has evolved to be a world-leading financial centre over the past two decades and it remains one of the most dominant cities in Europe (even in spite of the continued macroeconomic and geopolitical uncertainly). London has always been a very attractive and popular destination for Australian and NZ qualified lawyers and I for one am guilty of falling for London’s charm.

Despite our 2020 so far, Hong Kong & Brexit & Iran, Private Equity partners within top US/Magic Circle law remain positive and look to finish 2020 strong.

The practice areas currently in demand include:

  • Construction & Major Projects
  • Commercial Litigation
  • Restructuring & Insolvency
  • Employment
  • Banking & Finance
  • Corporate

As a law graduate in Australia or New Zealand, you generally go through three six-month rotations in three different practice groups before specialising and moving into a lawyer position in one of those groups after 18 months. To the UK/Irish graduate this sounds quite unfair, especially if you have just shed blood, sweat and tears for two years before then moving into a qualified lawyer position.

Essentially, putting it into context in Australian PQE terms, if a UK and Australian law graduate commenced their graduate programmes at the same time in their respective countries, the Australian lawyer would be looked at as having two years’ PQE in their legal market; however, the UK lawyer, after two years will be started at zero years’ PQE.

It is for the above reason that many Australian lawyers with less than three years’ PQE who move to the UK/Ireland struggle to find roles, as they are essentially competing against a large newly qualified candidate pool. It is a massive consideration for Australian lawyers and one of those ‘things’ that sometimes gets lost among the adrenalin of the move.


Income Tax is dependent on how much of your income is above your personal allowance (standard personal allowance that is tax-free is £11, 850) and how much of your income falls within each tax band. The basic tax rate is 20% if your taxable income is between £11,851 – 46, 350. The higher rate is 40% for taxable income of £46,351 – 150,000. There is also a rate of 45% for taxable income over £150,000.

Cost of Living

According to research on Expatisan, the cost of living in London is 13% more expensive than in Sydney. 


England has a temperate climate. Summer temperatures average 20 °C, while winter temperatures are rarely below freezing and usually average 5°C.

London has its own sort of microclimate where temperatures can be up to 5°Cwarmer than in surrounding areas.

Despite its reputation, London isn’t actually that wet! Rainfall in London averages about 23 inches per year, which is less precipitation than Sydney, Toulouse and New York (a whopping 50 inches there!).


London is located on the River Thames in the south-east of England. It is really easy to access the rest of the UK and Europe by both plane and rail from London. The Eurostar high-speed train can get you from central London to central Paris in just over 2 hours!

During more normal times, flights from Sydney to London take around 23 hours with one stopover. Alternatively, you can fly direct from Perth to London in just over 17 hours.


5 Fun Facts about London: 

  • Known as ‘the Tube’, the London underground is the oldest underground railway network in the world and was built in 1863
  • Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club on Frith Street was the site of Jimi Hendrix’s last public performance in 1970
  • The Houses of Parliament are officially known as the Palace of Westminster and it is the largest palace in the country. It contains over 1,100 rooms, 100 staircases and 4.8 kilometres of passageways. Bizarrely, it’s illegal to die there
  • London’s iconic red buses weren’t always red. The red buses were introduced in 1907, with London Transport adopting the colour in 1933
  • Hyde Park covers 350 acres and was created in 1536 by Henry VIII for hunting


For more information on how Covid-19 has affected the market, visa requirements and all-important salary information, request a copy of our latest London Market Intel & Salary Guide – 

“Only those who dare to fail greatly, can ever achieve greatly.” Robert F. Kennedy

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