Ask Janet: UK Law Grad Aspiring to Work in US

Inquiry from Ajay:

Hi Janet. I am a US citizen who have just completed my legal studies in the UK namely with LLB and the BVC and I am thinking of doing the New york bar. In terms of gaining admission to do the NY bar exam Ii think that won’t be problem, however, I’d like to know the employment prospects after completing the bar exam. Whether it would be easier for me to come to New york and pursue my career there or contact US law firms already in the UK and remain here and later get transferred.I look forward to hearing from you. Ajay

Response from Janet H. Moore: Ajay:Nice to hear from you. I am glad to hear that you are considering taking the NY Bar because being licensed to practice in the US will certainly enhance your employment prospects here.  Networking will be your key to success. I would encourage you to take a multi-faceted approach to finding a job in the US. This will increase the chance that you will find a position here, and perhaps be lucky enough to choose among several good options. You should consider networking with contacts in:1. The UK, looking for positions with firms that have US branches or home offices, as you alluded to.2. The US, using all connections possible–alumni contacts and other professional resources–to gain an entree, and paying your own way to NY for a few weeks and networking on site (with lots of advance interviews set up, if possible).3. In addition, to the extent that you have close personal and professional connections in another country, also ask them whether they in turn, have connections within US law firms.You inquired about working in the UK for a US firm and then transferring to the latter. As you can imagine, one disadvantage of this approach is that there is no guaranty that you would be the lawyer chosen to relocate to the US. Moving lawyers to other offices abroad is an expensive proposition.From my observation, only the cream of the crop with a given firm is invited to move abroad; further, any lawyer so chosen must have a special skill, client contact or other quality to make him or her one selected for a stint abroad. Internal firm politics also influence who is chosen to move.If you join such a US-based firm’s UK office, you very well may be the one that your firm selects to move back to the US. However, that’s a bit hard to predict in advance. So, if your heart is set on working in the US, I would encourage you to put a lot of effort into getting a position there to start with rather than counting on being transferred later from the UK. It will take a lot of persistence, but the stronger your networking, the better chance you have.

If you join such a US-based firm’s UK office, you very well may be the one that your firm selects to move back to the US. However, that’s a bit hard to predict in advance. So, if your heart is set on working in the US, I would encourage you to put a lot of effort into getting a position there to start with rather than counting on being transferred later from the UK. It will take a lot of persistence, but the stronger your networking, the better chance you have.If you do end up working for a firm in the UK, do try to work on as many client matters as possible that involve US business. The more experience you can gain with US legal matters, and the more US legal contacts you can make, the better.

Best of luck!

Janet

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