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Expat lawyer jobs on the rise, according to report

Posted by: Laurence Simons 12/11/12

Here's a word: expats. What are you thinking of, right now? Maybe you are thinking of women tanned to the colour and texture of a leather bag chain-smoking on the Costa del Sol, or of a red man haggling over a cooked breakfast in broken Spanish. You are thinking of these things.

And, if you're part of one of the most up-and-coming legal fields in the market right now, you are representing them, too. As The Lawyer reports, expat lawyers are on the rise again.

"The global market for expat lawyers, while by no means as buoyant as it was in late 2007, has been steadily expanding for the past six months," said Laurence Simons’ director of European private practice Guy Adams. "A combination of increasing transactional work outside the UK and the general shortage of English-qualified solicitors following the downturn has led to organisations in various jurisdictions looking to hire expats once more."

And not just in Spain. Corporations who have set up franchises in other countries - the business equivalent of a tattooed and topless man with hairy arms shouting at a black pudding - are increasingly looking for English-speaking lawyers to deal with prickly cases in emerging markets. As consultant Fred dos Santos notes, that means there are opportunities in Qatar in construction, Perth and Brazil in oil and gas fields and Singapore for high net worth private clients. "It depends on the kind of lifestyle that is sought and, more importantly, the practice area of the lawyer," the expert told The Lawyer. "More widely, international arbitration will gather steam everywhere, regardless of the economic outlook."

But as Beijing-based IP/IT lawyer Stan Abrama notes, packing all of your weird court wigs and capes and law books into a carry-on case and jetting off to exotic climes in the search of riches could, well, backfire. While the work might be there, compensation is notoriously reduced for expat lawyers.

"For lawyers these days, opportunities range from the big, high-end firms who have very stringent hiring requirements but also pay salaries comparable to what you would get at home to 'eat what you kill' deals with Chinese firms," said Mr Abrama. "There are always options these days, but some are very difficult to live with unless you already have some money in the bank."

So, if you're looking for legal jobs in Delhi, Paris or Dubai, it's important that you know your business inside out, know the country you're relocating to, and have a vague idea of what a pint of milk costs once you're out there. If that all adds up, you could join the ranks of a rapidly expanding legal sector and break new ground in emerging markets across the world. Speak to our legal recruiters about opportunities further afield.