Lawyers promote social order, influence policy and help shape the economy by being the trusted counsel of business leaders.
Australia has around 100,000 lawyers who are dispersed across law firms, the Bar, the judiciary, in-house legal teams and government departments.
The $20 billion a year industry has undergone a major transformation in recent years with a number of global firms planting their flags in Australia. Some have merged with a local firm, while others have poached complete teams to head up their Australian operations.
International heavyweights like Ashurst, DLA Piper and Norton Rose Fulbright have all been drawn to Australia due to its proximity to Asia, which is expected to become the most dominant economic region over the next 20 years.
This globalisation of Australia’s legal market has created a new hierarchy of law firms – global, national, mid-tier and boutique.
While the major firms concentrate on their global strategies, many of the newly-established boutique firms are disrupting the local scene by challenging the traditional law firm model.
Outside of opportunities to practice in-house, these trends have also created new opportunities for Australian lawyers, from international secondments at the global firms, to flexible ways of working at the boutiques.