Paris is one of Europe’s most cosmopolitan cities, but what does it have to offer UK lawyers? Plenty, according to Melanie Tremblay, head of the Paris office at recruitment consultancy Shilton Sharpe Quarry.
“English-qualified lawyers have a great opportunity to join the Paris offices of UK firms,” Tremblay says. “Given that they are native English-speakers and UK-qualified, they are in the best position to liaise with London.”
Farzana Beeharry, associate director at recruitment consultants Fox Rodney’s recently launched Paris office, highlights knowledge of English law as an asset.
“Being UK-qualified is always attractive in the French market, due to knowledge of common law,” Beeharry says.
While there are often opportunities in arbitration and the finance sector, Beeharry says there are also opportunities in other areas.
“It’s a big plus to be UK-qualified and a native English-speaker in arbitration,” she says. “UK-qualified lawyers may also find great opportunities in finance and energy and projects.”
Beeharry and Tremblay agree that laterals dominate in Paris.
“There have never been so many [lateral partner moves],” says Beeharry. “This is reinforced by the fact that some firms have newly come to the French market and launched Paris offices.”
Tremblay adds: “There’s a chance now for international firms not yet present in France to open Paris offices with qualitative partners.”
As for experience, all levels are in demand. “There’s a high demand for partners with a client base but also for mid-level and junior associates,” Tremblay says.
There are many benefits for UK-qualified lawyers in Paris right now.
“There’s more demand for UK-qualified lawyers than there are candidates willing to relocate,” says Tremblay. “Those choosing to move can benefit from a relatively higher financial package than their French colleagues and they also have more responsibilities, which can lead to a better chance of eventually becoming a partner.”
When it comes to in-house roles, there is also plenty of scope for junior and mid-level associates, notes Beeharry.
“There’s been an increase in in-house opportunities, but over the past year recruitment has been more at mid and junior levels,” she says, although she admits the sector has been affected by the downturn.
“More senior counsel have remained in position,” she adds. “The main sectors recruiting have been energy, oil and gas, and IT.”
And what about language skills? While not necessary, being able to speak French will work in your favour, says Tremblay.
“English is more and more used in offices. That being said, French is a plus when a lawyer is involved in a transaction with French or African parties.”
For Beeharry, “French is essential to integrate a team”. She adds that a lawyer must be fluent in French if they wish to practise as an avocat.