The exodus of Australian lawyers to the UK and Asia is drying up as a result of a tightening of the job market and a drop in rates of pay.
A survey by Australian legal recruiter Mahlab has found that Australian lawyers are now turning to less conventional jurisdictions such as Dubai for overseas work.
“Due to tighter local markets there are enough high-quality candidates in local jurisdictions and not such a need to get candidates from Australia,” the survey said.
Average salaries in London for five year-qualifieds dropped by £2,000, from £78,000 to £76,000, while salaries for those with one year post-qualification experience (PQE) this year earned between £51,000 and £55,000, compared with last year’s average of £54,000.
Hong Kong salaries were also hit, with the five-year PQE average falling from a monthly figure of HK$98,000 (£7,800) last year to between HK$90,000 (£7,200) and HK$97,000 (£7,700). Those at the lower end of the scale saw their salaries drop marginally, from an average of HK$71,500 (£5,700) to an average of HK$65,000 (£5,200) to HK$71,000 (£5,600).
Singapore and New York salaries remained roughly static. China had been a good source of work for foreign lawyers, with international firms actively recruiting, but Sars halted activity in the latter part of the financial year.
Structured and asset finance lawyers are the most consistently in demand, particularly in London.