Another year, another round of headlines trying to shock us all into a recession we don’t need to have. If the Australian press is anything to go by we are all on the road to oblivion and the Mayans might just have been right! The constant scaremongering about the global financial situation might sell papers but it certainly doesn’t reflect the real economy. At EA International, we suspect the general environment will remain bearish for the rest of the year as a result of the mood we have managed to talk ourselves into, despite stronger US and Chinese growth. We are much more interested in what is actually happening than what the newspapers want to prophesise, and in reality, we have been busy with more international, local and in-house roles than at any other time in the last three years. So, although there will certainly be ups and downs in 2012, there will be opportunities for outstanding lawyers at leading law firms if you know where to look.
On the international front, the last few months have seen growth in options outside of mainstream capital markets with international firms in places like the Channel Islands, the Middle East, and South East Asia all looking to hire Australian and New Zealand lawyers. While London will continue to be subdued at least for the next 6 months in some practice areas, and firms will only hire to replace as normal attrition rates dictate, we expect growth in hiring to occur in Asia, with Singapore particularly busy at the moment. The bottom line for anyone looking to move overseas is that there are very good options, at very good firms, but that you do need to be flexible as to destination and opportunistic when roles come up. It may mean working in Frankfurt, Dubai or Singapore, rather than New York, but it will still give you the chance to work on truly international matters and have an incredible life experience. That said, there is still strong demand for mid-level Litigation and Financial Services lawyers so while transactional teams are less active there is significant opportunity worldwide for people with contentious and regulatory experience.
Locally, against a backdrop of historically low unemployment, interest rates and low inflation combined with strong growth from our Asian neighbours, the Australian private practice market continues to be busy. Australia-wide we continue to see significant demand for Energy, Corporate, Construction, Financing, Litigation and Employment lawyers, especially in Perth, Sydney and Brisbane. Demand also remains strong in Professional Indemnity Insurance, particularly Financial Lines. The work varies from boutique and small firms up to international and top-tier firms.