On Thursday 7 April 2016, the La Trobe Law School welcomed Andrew David to present a seminar on practicing law in the US.
We have summarised his top 5 tips for Australians wanting to launch their law career in US:
1. Understand the market
The US is the biggest legal market in the world. Consequently, the matters you work on and get exposure to will be on a grand scale and the pace is faster. Therefore, lawyers are expected to have a higher pressure threshold. The growth areas in US law currently include bankruptcy law, elder law, entertainment law, intellectual property law, natural resources law, property law, labour and relations law and immigration law. If any of those areas of law interest you, give considerations to practising in the US.
2. Prepare as much as you can
The US Bar Exam is long, tough and generally takes multiple attempts to pass. Think of it this way, it is the equivalent of doing twenty-five legal subjects, closed book, under exam conditions and over two days. But don’t be deterred. Andrew recommends that you take adequate time to prepare (longer than you anticipate – double your study schedule!), understand the scope and depth of analysis required when answering legal problems, get a good study plan set up and just get going! Training guides such as Barbri may be helpful, but Andrew advises that they are catered to US students who need a “refresher” rather than foreigners who need to tackle US law for the first time. Also, be aware that New York and California are the two States that let Australians (and people from all other Commonwealth countries) sit for the Bar Exam.
3. Look for the “side door option”
Focus your attention and efforts into a particular area and tackle it. The scatter gun approach won’t work with US firms – you need to be detail orientated and differentiate yourself from the other candidates. Competition is fierce akin to the rest of the legal market. Look for the “side door option” which allows you to make direct contact with the Partners rather than just going through the general CV route. Be creative. Andrew once sent an email to a senior Partner at the firm with his CV as an animation – it got the Partner’s attention and got him an interview. However, make sure you do your research and assess the risks associated with doing an application like this because some firms will appreciate it, whilst others won’t ever look at you again.
4. First the Job, then the Visa
Australians can generally work in the US as a legal practitioner under an E3 Visa – however, you need to get the job first before you can begin the Visa application process.
5. Be diligent and resilient
Putting it simply, you need to outwork your competition and be persistent to get your foot into the US legal market. It is a rigorous process, but it can be done and the rewards are most definitely worth it.
Andrew is the principal of David Immigration Law PLLC. He is licensed to practice law by the Supreme Court of New York, and limits his practice to U.S. immigration and nationality law. Andrew is also a Barrister & Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Victoria and High Court of Australia. His experience includes working for one of the world’s largest corporate immigration law firms, as well as a major international law firm based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Andrew advises small and medium sized businesses, large multinational companies and individuals regarding U.S. immigration applications and petitions filed before the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). His experience also includes working with companies and individuals to tailor immigration strategies across numerous industries such as Engineering, Healthcare, Professional Services, Agribusiness, Energy and Information Technology.