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Old 03-15-2010, 04:08 PM
 
3 posts, read 10,945 times
Reputation: 12
Default Foreign lawyer, pass bar test, limited experience?

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?


Thank you
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Old 03-15-2010, 10:03 PM
 
Location: New York City
3,947 posts, read 4,564,852 times
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It depends on your law school ranking. The big, corporate firms are very snobby when it comes to law schools.

No one will ever higher you if you work as a paralegal after law school. It's a step down and looks like you couldn't make it as an attorney. I once worked in the Legal and Compliance Department of a well known investment bank. They had a deep prejudice against paralegals with law degrees. They wouldn't even look at the resume.

I have a friend who's an Australian lawyer. He works for NewsCorp.
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Old 03-15-2010, 11:31 PM
 
Location: NY,NY
2,901 posts, read 4,123,221 times
Reputation: 1827
Quote:
Originally Posted by Braxton-Pitt View Post
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?


Thank you

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.

Luck!
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Old 03-16-2010, 08:15 AM
 
203 posts, read 373,699 times
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You went to law school in Australia? I think you need to look at the the eligibility requirements for sitting for the NYS bar exam...not all foreign trained lawyers can just come and take the NYS bar. But Australia should be fine...but check it out first to make sure.

Your best bet would be what jcoltrane mentioned...working in an international law firm at Australia with offices in NY. But getting your JD in the US would probably way to expensive...not sure its worth your time or money. I guess you can go for your LLM though.
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Old 03-16-2010, 11:55 AM
 
642 posts, read 645,050 times
Reputation: 381
I am an Australian qualified (although there is no such thing) lawyer and work in New York. Before you get down on the responses I can confirm for you that as long as you went to one of the top Australian law schools you have the credentials to sit for the New York bar without further education. You will, however, need to submit additional material (basically your full transcripts) for assessment by the New York state board of legal examiners and they will need to confirm your eligibility.

My advice, as a fellow Australian, and not as a lawyer, is that you should really wait get a good two or three years at one of the top three firms in the corporate area. Whilst your legal knowledge will not be as well valued they will value your experience especially if you have a lot of big project experience. The legal system and body of laws whilst different or not insurmountable but what they will value is your ability to practice.

There are a number of Australian lawyers at the top BigLaw firms in New York and a number of partners there too. Whilst litigation (if that is your area of interest) is harder to get into I personally know of a couple of Australia qualified litigators as well.

Good Luck in your endeavours but what you should really look to is getting experience in a top Australian law firm. The market here is quite crowded at the moment with layoffs and the glut of US graduates. If you have the time and resources you could look at passing the NY bar and getting NY qualifications as it will help you a few years down the track.
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Old 07-15-2011, 12:51 PM
 
1 posts, read 6,467 times
Reputation: 13
I am a Brazilian attorney (passed the São Paulo Bar) and intend to sit for the New York Bar in Florida. I don't want to move to New York, I think it is great to city to visit if you are a tourist and have money, but to live is extremely cold and competitive.

Besides, what most people don't realise, is that you pay state taxes over there, and higher property taxes, therefore your money goes away pretty fast...

I lived in Australia during high school, would love to live there, but cannot find how my legal degree could help me. Do you think perhaps with knowledge of both Brazilian and US law I could establish a niche over there? Would the NY Bar help me?

Australia is a cool place, but seems so hard to immigrate to... Anyway, Miami is a cool place, besides being the gateway to Latin America.

And of course Brazil is booming at the moment. But I really love to travel internationally, live internationally... Oz would be a top choice to expend a great deal of my time.

Anyway, cheers man!
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Old 07-15-2011, 02:45 PM
 
Location: New York City
523 posts, read 446,029 times
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Why not do an LLM in NYC first? That way, you can build up your network.
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Old 10-02-2012, 04:14 AM
 
1 posts, read 4,272 times
Reputation: 10
Default Australian litigator

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nugget View Post
I am an Australian qualified (although there is no such thing) lawyer and work in New York. Before you get down on the responses I can confirm for you that as long as you went to one of the top Australian law schools you have the credentials to sit for the New York bar without further education. You will, however, need to submit additional material (basically your full transcripts) for assessment by the New York state board of legal examiners and they will need to confirm your eligibility...

There are a number of Australian lawyers at the top BigLaw firms in New York and a number of partners there too. Whilst litigation (if that is your area of interest) is harder to get into I personally know of a couple of Australia qualified litigators as well.
Hi Nugget

Your post has given me a bit of faith of being able to move over to the US as an Australian qualified litigator! Could I ask if your friends who succeeded on this front have any tips - i.e. how long did they practice in Australia before making the move to the US, did they have to find a recruiter, did they get their foot in the door by undertaking an LLM at a US university, and did they sit the NY Bar Exam before applying for jobs at US law firms? Any tips would be so greatly appreciated - I am pretty stuck trying to figure out the best path to take.

Currently, am at a top-tier commercial law firm (no NY office unfortunately - not a lot of the Australian top-tiers do), been here for 3 years, and not sure that will be enough to get over for litigation.

Thanks for your time.
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Old 10-02-2012, 08:28 AM
 
Location: Bronx, NY
7,527 posts, read 12,707,134 times
Reputation: 2209
Quote:
Originally Posted by tpk-nyc View Post
It depends on your law school ranking. The big, corporate firms are very snobby when it comes to law schools.

No one will ever higher you if you work as a paralegal after law school. It's a step down and looks like you couldn't make it as an attorney. I once worked in the Legal and Compliance Department of a well known investment bank. They had a deep prejudice against paralegals with law degrees. They wouldn't even look at the resume.

I have a friend who's an Australian lawyer. He works for NewsCorp.
It depends what kind of law he is looking to get into. Corporate law is very elitist, I agree...
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Old 10-02-2012, 08:36 AM
 
Location: in the woods
14 posts, read 12,866 times
Reputation: 17
Try legal Aid Society, Vera institue of justice, pro Bono work, depends on which area of law your interested in.
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