Articles From the Team

Tips for Antipodean lawyers moving to the UK

The migration of Australian and New Zealand lawyers to UK shores is a well-trodden path. The lure of European travel, culture, sport and access to excellent quality work has inspired many Antipodean lawyers to make the move.

Set out below are a few tips for those seeking to make the transition.

What visa will I need?

You can access the UK Government website here to find out what visa you’ll require and if you’re eligible to apply. Essentially, there are a handful of visas applicable to Australian and New Zealand citizens:

  • Youth Mobility Tier 5 Visa – this is the most common Visa, which allows the applicant to work for up to two years. Applicants must apply before their 31st birthday. There are a few additional conditions relating to financial savings.
  • Ancestry Visa – this will allow you to work for up to five years. Best go check to see where your grandparents were born!
  • Tier 2 Visa – this is where a firm sponsors you to work in the UK. In most cases, firms will offer this once you’ve secured a role and have entered the UK on a Tier 5 visa.

What roles will be available to me?

As a qualified lawyer working in the UK, you’re able to practice as a 'foreign qualified lawyer.' Many firms see the benefit in hiring Antipodean lawyers and don’t require you to cross-qualify. Some examples include:

Document review

Attractive hourly rates and short term assignments mean lots of opportunities to earn well and travel. Approximately 40% of BCL Legal’s document review placements are made up of Antipodean lawyers.

Fixed-term contract

As it says on the tin, you are employed by the firm for a set number of months, usually six or twelve and work as an associate receiving a salary commensurate with your level of experience. These roles are particularly prevalent within transactional disciplines such as real estate, construction and corporate but also litigation.


I’d suggest these roles are a last resort for qualified lawyers as they’re usually admin heavy and lower paid.

What are my chances of success?

This is the million-dollar question! The recent political climate in the UK has had a knock-on effect on the recruitment market and there are fewer opportunities at the moment; having said that, the market is always favourable to those who have extensive experience gained at a high pedigree law firm. It’s also fair to say that in a better market one’s chances are down to timing; it may just be the case that as someone arrives in the UK there just happens to be a handful of fixed-term contract roles available whereas for his or her companion travelling a month later, these roles will be filled.

The document review market is always moving and as an entry role to the UK a document review position will allow you to apply for more substantive roles while providing you with an income.

The London interim team at BCL Legal have placed hundreds of Antipodean lawyers in London. We welcome discussions with prospective candidates.  For more information please contact BCL Legal or email us at

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