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A Lawyers Guide on Relocating To Australia

About Australia

Australia has enjoyed a strong economic growth for nearly three decades and continues to offer Lawyers an abundance of opportunities, in particular in the areas of Corporate, Construction, Banking, IP/IT, Energy and Litigation. The quality of work is excellent and with its close proximity to Asia there is plenty of international exposure. Salaries in the top tier law firms are now often comparable to London Magic Circle Firms.  There is huge competition for attracting and retaining the best legal talent out there.


In Australia, the responsibility for dealing with admission to the profession is that of the Law Societies/Bar Associations in each individual State or Territory.

Typically, common law qualified lawyers will be required to sit exams in the areas of Australian Constitutional Law, Trust Accounts and Professional Conduct. Firms tend to allow you extra time off for study leave and often provide all the assistance required to pass the exams. In the meantime, you can practice as a foreign-qualified lawyer, provided you have a current practising certificate in another common law jurisdiction. 

Visa & Work Permit

Generally, visas are applied for on your behalf by your future employer and they typically last for 4 years, with the option to renew. After two years, you can apply for permanent residency and after a further 5 years, citizenship. There are exceptions to this, however, if married to an Australian citizen for example, so for more accurate visa entitlements visit

Many employers will assist with relocation costs to include flights, short-term accommodation and shipping. Each employer is different and will have their own policies in this regard.

Salaries and Income Tax

For a copy of our recent salary guide please email Yvonne Kelly at

For foreign residents earning up to $87,000 the tax rate is 32.5 per cent. Those earning between $87,000 and $180,000 pay between 32.5 per cent and 34.8 per cent and salaries above $180,000 command a rate of 45% after tax credits. For a more detailed guide to local income tax rates visit

Work / Life Balance

Although you will work hard –  the working hours in the top firms are similar to Ireland and the UK but with the added bonus of the great climate, outdoor lifestyle and shorter commute. Firms are keen to promote the need for a work / life balance.

As with all main cities the cost of living is quite high, with Sydney being the most expensive to live in.  As the law firms are keen to attract talented lawyers they are offering attractive remuneration packages and terms for the right individuals.

Keane McDonald is an international executive search and selection firm focusing on legal appointments.

At Keane McDonald we have a dedicated legal recruitment office in Sydney lead by Yvonne Kelly. Yvonne will guide you through the process of relocating in a professional, discreet and competent manner. To discuss any of our advertised vacancies or to have a general chat about international opportunities please contact Yvonne on  +61 405216810 or email to Absolute discretion and confidentiality is assured.


Click the link below for our current legal opportunities in Australia.

Click the link below to download our Legal Salary Survey for Australia 

Australia Salary Survey