Relocating to the East Coast: What you need to know
This article will discuss the trends seen in the major legal hubs on the East Coast of Australia; Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, as well as the potential financial, career and cultural benefits that can be gleaned from making an interstate move.
Lawyers practicing in Australia benefit significantly from an enviable combination of climate, commerce and culture. With each of the major economies located on the coast, access to “outdoorsy lifestyle” and having a life outside of work are common themes. However, there are jurisdictional nuances within each state that offer very unique benefits for lawyers looking to make a move.
- Experienced Lawyers (3 PQE+) with Finance, Litigation, Projects/ Infrastructure or Restructuring skillsets are currently the most in demand.
- There has been a general ‘shake-up’ at all levels, with plenty of Partner movement, juniors heading overseas and mid-levels going In-House.
- Whilst the majority of firms have been more conservative in their approach towards hiring, there is still a major drive to attract and retain talent through targeted campaigns.
Sydney remains the highest paying legal market in Australia (5-10% more than other major cities). This high salary has been maintained for a multitude of reasons including talent loss to competing firms, overseas moves and in-house organisations.
Sydney lawyers are regularly being offered retention bonuses or salaries above their peers, but within the Sydney market itself there has been an increase in parity across practice areas.
Unique Selling Points
Essentially, Sydney is a major financial hub for Australian Business, as well as a city packed with culture. Sydney lawyers have access to great lifestyle, climate, entertainment, culture & diversity and recreation.
Get in touch with James Andrew, or another member of our Private Practice team, to find out how you can find your dream role in Sydney.
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- Significant growth at Minter Ellison, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, Herbert Smith Freehills, Clyde & Co, King & Wood Mallesons, Ashurst, Wotton + Kearney, Clayton Utz and Allens.
- The biggest areas of demand are Infrastructure, Energy & Resources, Corporate and construction, and litigation.
- The historically lower-paid insurance market has seen significant increases in salaries, with Senior Associate lawyers earning (on average) 15% more than in previous years.
- Development projects for the 2032 Brisbane Olympics are already underway, and these projects are expected to provide economic and social benefits of around $8 billion, creating a greater need for skilled workers, including lawyers. This, in tandem with a general population growth in Queensland means further infrastructure investment is expected, leading to even further demand for legal services.
National law firms in Brisbane have witnessed increases in salaries, with some levels experiencing significant uplifts. The most substantial increases in renumeration (up to 20%) have been observed for junior-Senior Associate lawyers at the 4-7 PQE level.
Unique Selling Points
Aside from substantial career opportunities, Brisbane offers great quality of life with plenty of ways to enjoy the city through cultural and recreational activities. Despite experiencing the steepest climb in cost of living post-pandemic, Brisbane’s housing market continues to perform strongly, with its median house price falling well below Sydney and Melbourne. Proximity to the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast is another key pull factor to a life in the Queensland capital.
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- Lawyers specialising in any of the key practice areas (transactional and contentious) are high in demand
- There is a focus on Associate and Senior Associate/Special Counsel levels, across top-tier, international and upper mid-tier firms
- Big 6 law firms are experiencing the most growth, with major international law firms also possessing large presences in Melbourne
- The quality of work in Melbourne is excellent, often having international angles (namely Asia and the UAE)
A talent-loss to major US and London law firms in 2022 has led to increases of up to 20% as firms battled to retain staff and incentivise new hires. Additionally, the salary gap between Melbourne and Sydney has decreased nearer to the 5% mark.
Unique Selling Points
There are clear financial incentives, competitive housing prices and cost-of-living benefits to a Melbourne move, giving lawyers access to a bustling legal market without compromising on quality of life. The average house price is just under $900k, and the average unit price is just shy of $600k. Despite discretionary spending in Melbourne being comparatively cheaper than Sydney, you will be treated to fantastic public transport systems, fantastic food, busy nightlife and widespread recreational activities.
To find out more about Melbourne opportunities, get in touch with my colleague, Chad Weerasinghe, or another member of our Private Practice team.
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So, what are you waiting for?
Given the international market has cooled significantly and is likely to be slow over the next 12-18months, an inter-state move may be the perfect solution for those still eager to experience a change of scenery.
Get in touch with a member of the Beacon Legal team to find out how we can help you.