American Lawyering in the UK?
August 19, 2011 2:14 AM   Subscribe

Any ideas on how an American lawyer can find a job in the UK?

Hello! I am a young American lawyer (i.e., not much experience, but with a good law degree, and in 2 different US bars) who is moving to London. (I'm all sorted immigration wise).

I'm not really sure how to go about finding a job, or whether I should take the conversion exams to become a UK lawyer. It doesn't have to be working as a lawyer per se, but something lawyer-ly related (i.e., research, teaching, etc.) would also be terrific.

Any ideas or places I should look, hivemind?
posted by EtTuHealy to Work & Money (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
First, you would be converting to English law (Scotland has its own legal system). I dont know how difficult it will be to find a job, but there will be large firms that required lawyers with your qualifications. In the long run more experience is always of value, conversion could be worth while.
posted by adventureloop at 2:17 AM on August 19, 2011

I'd start with anyone who deals with the US - my wife works for a New Zealand company that occasionally exports to places like Hong Kong and Australia, and finding anyone in New Zealand who can offer even an informed opinion on a Hong Kong legal document is surprisingly difficult. I imagine plenty of British firms who deal with the US could use someone who can offer advice on the peculiarities of the US legal landscape.
posted by rodgerd at 2:45 AM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

It sounds to me as if you are already aware of the shape of the profession in the UK and how it differs from America - the barrister/solicitor division, the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme and so on.

For jobs, you could look at any of the following:
The Lawyer

Lawcareers has a firm "search engine" which might help you to dig up lots of LLPs to write to - you could try the CV and covering letter approach and see what turns up.

There are, as I am sure you know, an enormous number of large firms in London, many of which have American offices. You can find a list of firms in Chambers and Partners and "inside reports" (intended for those looking for training contracts) in Chambers and Partners Student Guide.

You might also want to consider a job as a legal academic (if you like teaching) - there are numerous law schools and colleges in London. Or there is paralegal work, but I don't think that is terribly well paid on the whole (though there might be exceptions).

Personally, I would advise taking the exams - solicitors are generally well off and, although the market is competitive, there are jobs out there. The College of Law, among others, does training for the transfer test. Good luck!
posted by lucien_reeve at 3:21 AM on August 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

Probably easiest to work for a us firm with a London office.
posted by yarly at 5:16 AM on August 19, 2011

Depending on how adventurous you're feeling, you could probably do some kind of self-employed work catering to American expats in the UK. I pay a US - UK accountant every year to sort out my American taxes, and if i had any legal requirements, i'd probably look for an expat lawyer first.
posted by ukdanae at 5:41 AM on August 19, 2011

Probably easiest to work for a us firm with a London office.

There's this. Or the bigger UK firms hire US-qualified lawyers, even without them having UK qualifications. For example my firm has a group of finance lawyers doing US law.
posted by Infinite Jest at 6:00 AM on August 19, 2011

A woman I graduated law school with is a solicitor over there. Being a solicitor is probably way easier than being a barrister.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:25 AM on August 19, 2011

Try Taylor Root and Laurence Simons for recruiters. Local Big Law (Magic Circle) won't get too upset about foreign quals. but it is not such a good market right now ... London is quite finance focused, and when the markets dives the service providers (like lawyers) tend to get edgy. Start with contacting the UK branches of US firms.
posted by jannw at 11:50 AM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

You don't say what your experience is in but if it is finance or corporate, US firms in London will be delighted to hear from you. Magic circle firms won't expect you to cross qualify. Expect to work very long hours.

The majority of barristers do criminal work. Competition for any kind of barrister's job is ferocious. For commercial work at the bar you need to be genuinely top .1%. The upside is that you will earn a fortune. By way of example I am instructing a barrister presently - not a silk, mark you - to draft an amicus curiae brief. I am paying €15,000 just for this. And it's a good deal.
posted by dmt at 8:30 AM on August 20, 2011

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