When our international affiliates caught up recently one thing loomed over everything creating uncertainty across all markets – the so-called Brexit as voted for by the UK late last month. Ironically it seems that it could prove a positive for New Zealand, but it has had an immediate impact on confidence and hiring intentions elsewhere.
Perhaps unsurprisingly our colleague in London described the fall out of the Brexit vote as ‘a pain in the rear’. It had an immediate economic impact and a number of big banks, for example JP Morgan, are already talking about moving their European headquarters to Frankfurt or Paris instead. If London’s status as the financial capital of Europe is diminished, then it is inevitable that law firms won’t need the same capacity in the City and employment opportunities will lessen as a result. He also mentioned there will likely be changes to the immigration situation, although whether these would favour Kiwis or not is obviously unknown.
Basically it could go two ways:
Negative – a return to recession conditions just as the country has emerged from beneath the post-GFC cloud which will translate to less opportunities for Aussie and Kiwi lawyers looking to undertake the traditional OE.
Positive – the UK seeks even closer ties with the Commonwealth, in particular Australia and New Zealand as was the case before they joined the EU (then the EEC). Plus, there will be a lot of work needed to unravel the EU legislation that is incorporated in almost all the laws passed in the last 40 years. Whilst it is unlikely to do much to further careers, it would certainly fund a couple of years in London and a few weekends in Europe courtesy of EasyJet!
Happily the market in Australia is remaining good with demand for good intermediate level lawyers in a range of areas. IP, Banking, TMT, Corporate, Funds, Construction and Commercial Property are strong, mirroring the focus on the non-contentious side of things that we are also seeing here in New Zealand. Your level will be important because many teams are top heavy and they are anticipating a few more senior people coming back from the UK in particular as the fall-out from Brexit continues.
Again, Brexit has caused a great deal of uncertainty in these jurisdictions that have finance, tax and funds at the heart of most practices. Having said that there is still demand for top tier corporate and commercial litigators. Let’s face it living tax free in Bermuda wouldn’t be a bad place to ride out the implications of post-Brexit and pre-Trump world!
Hong Kong and Asia
The whole region is feeling the effects of the slow-down in the Chinese economy and recruitment has been slow all year. Where there are still open roles there is an increased need for fluency in Mandarin which naturally limits the opportunities for many overseas candidates. Areas where there is still some demand include banking and finance, in particular asset finance, TMT, funds and the complex commercial litigation associated with financial regulation.
To be in the running you would need to be 3-6 years PQE in Hong Kong and England & Wales terms, which is about 4/5 to 7/8 years PQE here in New Zealand.
We know there is little that will dampen the kiwi appetite for travel and the OE as a rite-of-passage for so many, but as far as we can tell for the time being it seems New Zealand actually offers some of the best opportunities from a career point-of-view. With the world changing fast all we can do is watch this space.