Rethinking Global Vocational Pathways
Rebecca Adlington, Marketing Coordinator
This month, Matthew Hart, Director and Head of Australia at Sonder Consultants, contributed towards an article in Lawyers Weekly – ‘Rethinking Global Vocational Pathways.’
The article aims to guide professionals interested in overseas legal roles on how to position themselves to thrive and succeed in a post-pandemic marketplace. Applying his knowledge, expertise and experience working as a lawyer overseas, Matthew sheds light on the current state of the market and advises lawyers on how to progress in their legal career.
To begin the article, industry professionals highlight the benefits and career opportunities associated with securing a legal role overseas – something COVID-19 has bought to an abrupt halt.
For instance, Mr Cormack, now a banking and infrastructure lawyer at Gilbert + Tobin, explains…
“I wanted the chance to live in London and take advantage of the bars, cafes, pubs and clubs, as well as having Europe on the doorstep. Obviously, I was keen to keep my career moving forward whilst I was there, but it wasn’t until I got there (and even more on my return to practice in Australia) that I realised how beneficial this overseas experience had been in developing my skills. London is such a big market and the volume and complexity of transactions I worked on over there really accelerated my career path as a lawyer.”
After the article details why Australian lawyers work abroad, Matthew Hart then discusses the impact COVID has had on international legal work and legal recruitment.
“Many of our international clients have still had to rely on foreign-qualified lawyers to fill their business-critical roles. Not all firms have been able to onboard new starters remotely, but many of them have put temporary remote-working measures in place to avoid delaying new starts,” he details.
“We have found that, if we’re able to effectively leverage the technology available, we can maintain FaceTime with clients and candidates, and continue to provide a professional and personalised service. The ability to jump between meetings through Zoom has obvious efficiency-related benefits.”
Matthew then advises on how legal professionals can ‘get creative in the new normal,’ by saying:
“The situation will improve and we will start to see an increase in overseas opportunities and demand for Australian lawyers. In the meantime, map out a plan of attack. Identify the market you want to work in, the practice areas that are hiring, and the types of firms you’re interested in. Talk to your recruiter about the types of Australian candidates the firms have hired in the past and compare their profiles with your own.
Moreover, professionals should challenge themselves by thinking outside the box and focus on transferrable skills and unique selling points. “We know restructuring and insolvency is hot at the moment. Are you a banking and finance lawyer who has had exposure to restructuring? Can you get more of that work in your current firm? We know private equity houses are setting up funds to purchase distressed assets all over the world. Are you a corporate M&A lawyer interested in working on PE transactions overseas?”
Going further, Matthew adds:
“Are you looking to move to Hong Kong? Can you spend time brushing up on your Chinese language skills? Are you looking to move to NYC? Can you spend time studying for the NY Bar?”
When asked how lawyers can navigate COVID-19 constraints, Matthew shares how recruiters can support legal professionals in keeping their career on track.
“Recruiters can help with the information sharing around what’s possible, and how different lawyers have benefited. We can pass on what employers are saying about different CVs and what they’re really valuing and looking for in prospective employees,” he says.
And advises on some practical actions to take…
“Instead of an overseas master’s program, can you enrol in a local master’s and engage in some local volunteer work? Instead of a master’s, can you enrol in short courses that focus less on theory and more on technology & practical, commercial skills?”
Ending the article on a positive, Matthew reminds readers why they should stay hopeful, motivated and push forward on their chosen career path.
At the end of the day, however, Mr Hart implores lawyers to remember that not only we have bounced back from recessions in the past but that there have been “tremendous” opportunities on the back of them.
“All legal markets will resume hiring. When plotting your move overseas, it is important to exercise patience and caution, as it should be for all the right reasons and not just for any role,” he concludes.