Australia to open door to UK junior lawyers in post-Brexit trade agreement

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Law Society cautions ‘practical barriers’ around qualifications

Sydney, Australia

Junior lawyers in the UK may soon be able to practise in Australia without having to requalify following the news this week of a post-Brexit trade agreement with Australia. The development was welcomed by The Law Society yesterday who also cautioned there are “practical barriers” around the recognition of qualifications.

The government has said the UK-Australia free-trade agreement (FTA) will ensure the mutual recognition of professional qualifications, enabling lawyers to practise down under without the need to requalify or for additional study.

However, The Law Society said there are still “practical barriers” that prevent the full benefit of trade in legal services between the two countries.

These difficulties increase costs for clients, limit international opportunities for local lawyers, and reduce the skills transfer and contribution to the local market, particularly for those without the support of larger organisations, the Society said. Many of these barriers are ‘behind the border’ and are not covered by these agreements.

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Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce said: “We hope that the deal’s ambitious commitments on market access for services professionals will provide a strong step towards addressing these issues and look forward to seeing this reflected in the final deal.”

She continued:

“We look forward to deepening our discussions on market access and a simpler requalification system with our key counterparts, including the Law Council of Australia, and would welcome a clear framework for regulatory dialogue under the FTA with Australia to further this cooperation.”

Some City of London law firms already have a significant presence in Australia. Allens (partnered with Linklaters), Ashurst and Herbert Smith Freehills are among Australia’s ‘Big Six’ law firms. Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance and Norton Rose Fulbright also maintain a profile in the country.

The news may help junior lawyers at these firms seek pastures anew as historically, English and Welsh solicitors have had to satisfy rigid requirements to dual-qualify in Australia.

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A Well

Given the UK will be governed for the foreseeable future by reference to the preferences of the most basic of the Red Wall voters, the more boltholes the better.


Eddie the Tax-Free Dollah Expat

Well-said. Time to leave this rotting island whilst one still has the chance.


Multiple perspectives

In my country we say that: ”The only way out for Brazil … is the airport.”


Polka Dot

Question: I’ve met plenty of Australians and New Zealanders and Canadians who have worked at City law firms – and indeed in the Government Legal Department – who were not required to take the Bar Transfer Test or the QLTS as a condition of employment. Ditto anyone who is Scots- or Irish-law qualified seeking to practise in E&W. (I accept that the situation is different for those seeking to practise solely at the Bar.)

So what exactly has changed? Is it simply the case that the SRA does not impose the kind of restrictions on practitioners from NZ/Oz/Ireland/Canada/Scotland etc that their counterparts impose on practitioners from England? If so, why?!


Foreign Qualified Lawyer

The title at the bottom of their email will go from “Foreign Qualified Lawyer” or “Consultant” to “Lawyer” or “Solicitor”. It’s the same for British lawyers in Australia. No one bats an eyelid that they aren’t properly qualified.



You need to be admitted here in Australia. You can’t just turn up and work as a solicitor.



That’s totally dependent on the state. I know lawyers in NSW at international firms who have done exactly that.


GLD lawyer

Foreign lawyers at GLD are able to perform reserved legal activities under an exemption in the Solicitors Act 1974. They are required to eventually take the QLTS as a term of their employment contracts with GLD, but they still don’t need a practising certificate after being added to the roll in E&W



Hi, would you be able to detail the situation a bit? Caught my interest. I am an indian lawyer, coming to UK for an LLM (probably SQE/QLTS as well, not sure at this point). Will be moving to Canada later as a permanent resident. Wanna know if this thing of qualifying in Canada and working in UK or vice versa works? Im really in no mood to qualify in both UK and Canada.


Leeds 1st Year - Incoming Vacation Scheme Applicant

**Honest answers only please**

Is Stephenson Harwood a good firm? (E.g. re PEP, salary progression, work quality etc.)


Mouldy Brioche

If this is bait it’s not very good. Stephenson Harwood are a solid firm in many respects.



Everything is relative. You’ll be looked down on by all SC/MC/US firms (assuming they’ve even heard of you). But you’ll be looked up to by some other firms whose names I don’t know.


Multiple perspectives

Imagine how mentally disturbed you have to be to care about the opinion of Linklaters’ lawyers.



Linklaters? What the hell is that? Another meme firm that pays sub-100k?



Yes, especially if you are interested in asset finance/shipping.


Thread Hijackers Are Pond Life

Thread Hijackers Are Pond Life. Go away.





Incoming Kirkland First Round Assessment Centre Candidate

Too right bro, we are quite right not to give those clowns any other response 💸


Where careers go to die

Petition to classify Australian offices as regional offices?



Where careers go to die, but life starts to begin! I’m most definitely moving to Australia once I am around 28-32. Gonna buy a phat villa for like £50 quid in Queensland and live my days getting bit by exotic creatures.



Realestate here in Australia is some of the most expensive in the world.



Jun 17 2021 9:45am: you are not a proper barrister. Australian ones don’t count, I’m afraid.


Qld Sunshine State Lawyer

Villa on the beach, got a spare 3 to 6 million quid? Plus, cost of living in Australia is expensive, we may export our coal, electricity is expensive as is food and entertainment. We are churning out too many law grads for the market. Unless you can get a secondment with your law firm, it will be difficult to find a job. Employ a junior UK solicitor vs home state solicitor who is trained here, you will find it difficult to secure employment.


Been there

Huh? Oz is a great option if you want to work on deals with an Asia-Pac focus, nutt with some local Sheila hotties and enjoy the Sydney surf. You won’t be paid much and you’ll be worked hard, but it’s worth it.

London is a grim, fetid pit full of inbred individuals compared to Sydney.


No clue

Where careers go to die eh?

You must be one of those chinless pasty English types who thinks its a great idea to spend the best part of your 20s and 30s working at the London office of some US boiler room, developing your “legal career”.

Well done lol



Jun 16 2021 12:46pm: Australia and New Zealand are career graveyards. Packed with third rate people.



Uh-huh, thx son. Now p*ss off back to your textbooks and leave the comments to grownups yea?



Australian lawyers are sought after in London, so what does that tell you? Sun and healthy food here produce healthy brains.



Uh-huhhhhhh, ok buddy, whatever gets you through the night 🙄 End of the day we colonised your country so let’s leave the recruitment analysis & decisions to the proper lawyers in Britannia yeah??

There’s a good boy

City solicitor

Jun 17 2021 9:47am: Australian lawyers are not sought after in London. They are famously hired for short periods to undertake tasks which require no or no real intellectual input, such as document review. At my City firm, it is known as the “Rent an Aussie” policy. There is no scope for promotion. So they head back to Australia or, if things turn really bad, they end up in an even greater cesspit such as BVI or Cayman.

CANZUK, anyone?

The UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand should basically have a free movement and mutual recognition of professional qualifications deal with each other.

We have similar demographics, standards, much the same systems of law, government and economics and even share a Head of State, so it makes sense.



CANZUK, anyone?: the reason why there is not the automatic right for lawyers from Canada, Australia and NZ to be admitted in the UK is because lawyers from Canada, Australia and NZ are sub-standard in absolute terms and certainly so relative to UK lawyers, who set the benchmark quality for the rest of the common law world.


Anomalously Anonymously Anonymous

Evidence or argument, City?

Bare assertion does not a submission make.



@City – how do US lawyers stack up, in your estimation?



Top bants son. Those pesky Australian lawyers (who have to do a four year LLB or three year Juris Doctor) are much dumber than the elite uk lawyers who have to do a whole 9 MONTHS of law school before becoming lawyers.


Graham Greene

I think Aus suffers from only allowing Law students (as far as I’m aware) to become lawyers. Some of the best lawyers I know (not me, I did Law undergrad like a sucker) are from non-Law backgrounds. Yes they can do the GDL (usually 1 year) and LPC (usually 1 year too) but someone who has done a science degree at Cambridge is a much more interesting candidate than a Law graduate from Wollongong University in my opinion.


Old Guy

Most Australian lawyers do a double degree over 5 years, so a BA/LLB or a BSc/LLB. They have the best of both worlds. A lot of the lawyers from Oz and Kiwi land in London do a masters at Ox/LSE/UCL/Cambridge before working. They are top notch. However we are seeing the best of them, and I suspect the ones who remain in Oz are mediocre at best. I also think a lot of top firms in London like to take them on because there is a clear sign of competence and no long term commitment as the majority will bugger off after 2-4 years. Having a fresh influx of hot blondes also helps boost morale.

Worked with Aussies

Anyone can complete a law degree, no matter how long it is. The difference in Australia is that, in order to obtain a fully practising certificate, you only have to spend 6 months training (so basically, an internship). Their system is more similar to America’s, in that junior lawyers are basically trained on the job. So yes, the quality of practitioners can vary dramatically for the basic reason that it is extremely easy to qualify in Australia. Of course, that doesn’t mean that Australia as a jurisdiction is incapable of producing superb lawyers!


Gong Grad

The vast majority of undergrad law students start their training in their penultimate year (either in a grad program, paralegal etc) and then there is a 6-12 month bloke after graduating which is your “legal internship” you need to complete before admission. So effectively, most Australian law graduates have 12 or so months of practical legal training on top of their degree before they’re admitted. It isn’t too different to the UK. Uni of Wollongong develops a better calibre of human being than those Oxbridge w***ers


Worked with Aussies aka doing their photocopying and fetching them coffee. What TC experience. So jealous.


The only thing we lack is your inbred snobbery.


English-educated Barrister

Jun 17 2021 9:49am: you also lack our ability.



Jun 17 2021 2:31pm – what is this superior ability you are referring to?

Last time I checked the UK’s Empire no longer extends beyond the North and Irish seas. Isolated yourselves from the 500m+ common market whilst Australia continues to build partnerships with the world’s fastest growing economies.

Themis Bonneval

And what exactly is the USP of the UK lawyer in the Australian market (population ca. 25 million)? Because I am struggling to come up with one. I used to be able to practise in 27+ (EU, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Norway) countries and I used to do that regularly, especially under fly in and fly out. That was a market of over 500 million. Hardly comparable.



People from the UK are completely delusional. Please stay in the UK going from lockdown to lockdown.


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