Introduction to Australia

With a population approximately one-third that of the UK, and with only 200 years of post-colonial history, albeit set against a backdrop of a rich indigenous culture, a life in Australia offers many an enviable combination of climate, commerce and culture. With each of the principal centres of commerce being located on the coast, access to the great outdoors assumes greater importance in daily life than in almost any other jurisdiction on commercial lawyers’ map.

Although Australia does offer fantastic quality of life, you will still be expected to work hard. Hours of work will of course vary depending on the nature of the transaction or case which a lawyer is working on. Overall, the laid-back Australian lifestyle means that firms stress the importance of having a life outside of work.

A move to Australia from the UK is one of the easiest moves overseas (especially long-haul) possible: this is due in part to there being no language barrier, but also to the fact that you will be not be relocating as an ex-pat. In this sense the opportunity exists to integrate into life very much as a local. This will hold special appeal for those for whom ex-pat life has limited interest.


The Legal Market

The legal market for overseas lawyers is concentrated on a relatively small number of commercial centres: principally Sydney and Melbourne and to a lesser extent Brisbane and Perth. Occasionally opportunities will arise in other cities, but these are not areas of significant activity for the overseas market. Within this market the ‘Magic Circle’ equivalents number five or six in total, and it will be these, and possibly also the next tier of law firms, that the majority of lawyers considering relocating will be interested in approaching.

Lawyers specialising in any of the key practice areas (banking and finance; corporate/commercial; energy/resources/projects; construction; IP/IT/telecoms and to a lesser extent commercial litigation) will usually find their skills in demand.

The training system in Australia differs slightly from that in the UK. For this reason there is an element of adjustment of non-Australian CVs in order to take into account this difference.


Money Matters

Australia has a tiered income tax system, where the more money you earn, the higher tax rate you pay on the extra income (as in the UK). Speak to one of our consultants for up to date rates.

It should be borne in mind that Australia does not have a National Insurance system, although it does operate a medicare levy.

A further benefit in Australia is Superannuation (pension): this is a compulsory contribution made by employers, to a fund made available on retirement, and currently stands at 9% of salary.

Taking all factors into account, it is fair to say that the cost of living in Australia (save perhaps for the cost of purchasing property in the hotspots of Sydney and Melbourne) is such that lawyers relocating from overseas are remunerated sufficiently generously to afford a great quality of life.


Red Tape

Unless you have Australian citizenship or are married to an Australian National or are in a de facto/common law marriage with an Australian National you will require sponsorship by your law firm to acquire a visa. This is a pre-requisite to entering and working in the country.

In Australia, the responsibility for dealing with admission to the profession is that of the Law Societies/Bar Associations in each individual State or Territory. The Law Council of Australia (the organisation which represents the State and Territory Societies and Bars) paper on admission to the profession and giving contact details of Law Societies and Bars can be found at


After Work

It’s in the air, the light, the space, the surf – the lifestyle and the attitude. Australian cities are all about the lifestyle:

  • Sydney has an exuberant quality defined by the city’s climate, magnificent harbour and superb beaches. The stunning Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge are sights not to be missed.
  • Melbourne, the capital of Victoria and a cultural hub, is known for the good things in life – fashion, food, entertainment and sport. A city of style, architecture, trams, theatres and art.
  • Brisbane is an easy-going city with sub-tropical temperatures. There is plenty to do; visit islands, sample the exquisite cuisine and fine local wines or soak up the arts or sporting lifestyle.
  • Perth is Western Australia’s sophisticated capital city. It’s well known for sun, surf and sea life. It’s warmer climate ensures almost every day is a good day to visit the beach, go whale watching or to explore the natural bush. Its boasts some of Australia’s true beauty such as the spectacular Kings Park and Swan River.


For more information, please contact your advising consultant at Garfield Robbins International on +44 (0)7912 392 835 or email us on

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