Finding a legal role in the UK or Europe as a foreign laweyr

Moving to a new country as a lawyer or legal counsel can be an intimidating experience, especially if you are looking to relocate to the UK or Europe from outside of those countries.

We receive numerous messages from lawyers outside of this region who have tried applying for roles but have had no success.

Local employers, like anywhere in the world, prefer candidates who have a work permit for the country where the position is located.

If you don’t have the right permit, you’ll need to do some research and consider other options to increase your chances of finding a job.

Here are some tips to help you find a job in a new country:

If you have a work permit

If you have a work permit for your target country, make sure to mention it prominently on your CV.

Reach out directly to the job poster or hiring manager with a message stating that you have the work permit and relevant experience.

(However, even with the right work permit, there may still be issues if the employer requires a locally qualified lawyer._

If you don’t have a work permit

If you don’t have a work permit for your target country, you’ll need to do some research.

Talk to people who have made the move

Connect on LinkedIn with legal professionals who have moved to the UK or Europe from your home country and ask them for advice on how they got those roles.

You can use LinkedIn filters to search for people based in in the UK / Europe who have keywords in their profile related to your home country (for example India, Turkey, South Africa, Russia).

Use those keywords in the ‘keyword’ section of the filters. If you can’t see it, try next level LinkedIn product (Sales Navigator definitely has the keyword search field).

For the Title field you can use such words as legal counsel or lawyer (you can also try compliance, privacy, data protection).

Once you get your search results, send them a short inMail asking for advice.

Remember that people are busy. It is a numbers game – sometimes only one in 10 will answer, so make sure to reach out to several dozens of people.

Apply to a lot of roles (think hundreds)

To find roles, go to LinkedIn Jobs, type the keywords of your specialty + the word “counsel” in the keyword section, and choose the geographical region, for example the European Union.

You will get hundreds of results, and yes, you will need to apply to many roles.

We know a Turkish lawyer who applied for around 300 jobs, mostly in-house, got considered by two companies and one of them made him an offer, which allowed him to get ther work visa and move to Germany.

Get CV advice early

Before you do anything, reach out to a local recruiter or CV writer and pay them for CV advice. Hiring managers are used to seeing a certain style of CV and if your CV is very different, it will likely be ignored as everyone has their cultural bias.

Widen your options

It’s essential to remember that you’re competing with hundreds of locally qualified candidates who don’t have work permit issues. So your first role may not be your ideal opportunity. Think of your first role as a “foot in the door.”

Here are some specialisms that you might want to consider, along with your usual title:

  • M&A assistance
  • Privacy, data protection, and GDPR roles
  • Intellectual property
  • Legal operations
  • Compliance
  • Risk Management
  • AML

Get general immigration advice

You may also want to talk to immigration lawyers. For example, many countries in Europe have introduced digital nomad visas that allow you to get a temporary residency visa if you prove that you have sufficient income coming from outside of that country. After a few years extending that visa you can apply for permanent residency.

In conclusion, finding a job abroad can be challenging, but with perseverance, hard work, and the right strategy, it’s possible to succeed. With the right mindset and approach, you can make your dreams of working abroad a reality.