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New Zealand to London – managing your international legal career

Are you a New Zealand qualified lawyer looking to transfer your career to the United Kingdom? Home to hundreds of international legal professionals from several jurisdictions, London continues to attract overseas lawyers looking to experience the bustling lifestyle of the capital.

Rosamund More, Senior Consultant for Legal in-house recruitment at Robert Walters, is a qualified lawyer from New Zealand and has 4 years recruitment experience across the New Zealand and UK markets.

We speak to Rosamund who shares her thoughts about why now is a great time for New Zealand legal professionals to make the move to London.

UK businesses and Law firms continue to expand

For transactional lawyers – those predominately specialising in corporate (public and private equity)/commercial and banking/finance lawyers, London provides an opportunity to move in-house in a market that is vastly bigger than New Zealand.

Rosamund comments "in-house mandates stretch from large international corporations head-quartered in London, to smaller boutique and start-up businesses. Some of the world’s largest banks and FTSE-listed companies are headquartered in the city, where the opportunities to move in-house are extensive. According to Forbes, private equity fundraising in London has reached record levels in 2018 and the number of new businesses launched has continued to hit unsurpassed highs. This provides unparalleled opportunities that will likely never be seen in New Zealand.  

"On the private practice front - corporate (public and private), finance and specialist litigation lawyers have had particular success in the London market.  The sheer complexity, volume and abundance of matters worked on in each area provides NZ qualified lawyers with an incredibly fulfilling experience. Magic circle and top US law firms that launched in London in the early 2000s also offer significant salary increases for those lawyers wanting to get on the property ladder sooner rather than later."

Those worried about arriving and needing to find work immediately, there is a steady flow of contract and document review roles in both in-house and private practice to bridge the gap before finding permanent roles.

New Zealand’s legal professionals highly valued in UK market

Rosamund continues "thanks to the common law jurisdiction, most areas of law are easily transferable to the UK market. New Zealand lawyers coming from the country’s top 10 law firms are well-placed to get positions as these firms are internationally recognised for producing high calibre lawyers.

"New Zealanders also provide a great alternative for London-based companies who are looking to hire immediate-start contractors, as most UK lawyers at this level are in permanent roles with 3 month notice periods. We estimate that 35% of the London legal market is on a temporary contract, and pressing projects, such as the new GDPR regulation has seen hiring managers only consider lawyers that are immediately available.

New Zealand lawyers have also developed a great reputation in the London market for their strong work ethic and diverse skill set they bring with them


"New Zealand lawyers have also developed a great reputation in the London market for their strong work ethic and diverse skill set they bring with them. We often have clients comment on the positive effect New Zealand Lawyers have on the culture of their team; making a real effort to immerse themselves in the business, whether it be in a permanent or contract role."

A seamless transition

Transitioning to the London legal market, from New Zealand, tends to be fairly seamless once you have your visa and a confirmed arrival date.

Rosamund highlights "we find that New Zealanders have much more success in securing roles once they have arrived in the country. This is particularly true for the in-house market, where hiring managers prefer to meet candidates face-to-face to ascertain personality and cultural fit.

"On the private practice front, we have seen candidates primarily from the top tier firms in New Zealand secure positions before arriving in London. However, discerning candidates find they have more success when they have arrived and have had the opportunity to meet with firms in person before making an informed decision" says Rosamund. 

"Here at Robert Walters, we offer initial assistance and guidance to New Zealanders looking to make the move. Experts within our London and New Zealand offices are on-hand to offer key market intelligence as well as the latest job opportunities - helping you gain an insight of the London market before even arriving in the UK."

Shannon Stewart, Legal Counsel at Wagonlit Travel speaks about her involvement with Robert Walters

 “My experience with the Robert Walters team was fantastic. Shortly after arriving in London I met with Robert Walters to discuss my career interests, the different types of roles to consider and the UK legal market in general. It was clear from the advice they provided that they had expert knowledge of the industry. In less than two weeks after meeting with Robert Walters I started in a contracting role, which turned into permanent employment shortly thereafter.

Throughout the process I found all members of the team to be very efficient, helpful and enthusiastic. What also set them apart from other recruiters I’ve met with was how genuine they were – I felt they truly cared about helping me find a great role. Overall Robert Walters made a stressful part of my transition to the UK a lot easier!”



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