Originally Posted by Braxton-Pitt
I am a law graduate from Australia considering sitting the NY bar test. I have paralegal experience, but only around eight months professional experience as a lawyer.
If I were to pass the bar test, how difficult would it be to find an attorney position in Manhattan? Would I need to obtain a paralegal position for a period of time before applying for an attorney position?
Would it be best to wait a few years for the market to pick up?
The answer to your last question is absolutely YES!
I suggest you spend a bit of time Goggling re the legal profession and NYC. Also, hit the library and search the American/NY legal publications. Many articles and info re the employment castrophe that hit the industry as a result of financial crisis.
The first thing you should realize is this is NEW YORK CITY. What your proposing is not like moving from Brisbane to Sidney. It is incredibly competitive. Everyone comes here, or wants to come here. Everyone in America, everyone in the world.
So, how do you make it as an attorney in NYC? Four ways, first and foremost is at the top level, and frankly is what it means to be a 'New York/Wall Street Lawyer'. You are recruited
right out of law school (before you graduate), which means that you graduated at the top of your class, from one of the top universities in America. You are a 'corporate' attorney and deal with the business of international and national corporations, and/or incredibly wealthy individuals/families.
A level below, yet still extremely lucrative are what by NYC standards are small
firms, which deal, generally, with local business matters regarding New York City, State, and to a lessor degree than above national. Small by this standard, generally, is 100 to 50 attorney firms; which anywhere else would be large. Generally, lawyers at this level are home grown, connected into the local political and business sphere. Most have attended the local law schools, New York (not NYU), Brooklyn, Fordham, St. John's, etc. Having a father, relative, or friend to grease the way is important.
Below the above is your average run of the mill store-front lawyer to be found all over the tri-state area; or the more Manhattan centric renting shared space in an office tower dealing with all manner of 'small' business matters and/or personal issues. This is NYC, so most do rather well financially on an individual or very small firm basis.
There are also, a number of small (1 to 20) 'boutique' firms and/or individuals, who specialize and have quite lucrative practices.
Lastly, there are those positions to be found in non-legal business and government offices. Most of these fall into the lower portion of median salaries. I list this type last as its more a 'job/functionary' than actually practicing.
So, the question for you is how do you see yourself fitting in and what is the reality of it. Moreover, how does your education and background fit in?
I would imagine if levels one and two were a possibility, then you wouldn't be posting to this forum, you'd already have an in. Also, its unlikely for you to hang up a shingle somewhere and make a go of it. So, that leaves a "job" in a corporation or government office.
My best suggestion would be for you to obtain a position in Australia, at an Australian or International firm with a significant (50+) New York office. Also, attempt to obtain the sort of SPECIFIC legal experience that would be in demand in NYC. For example, local Australian experience really isn't going to account for anything here in NYC (or America for that matter); but, international business, finance or government would.
Another suggestion would be to go for a J.D. at an American university. You'd be a lot more marketable, and by that time hopefully the market will have improved.