London is currently the business capital in Europe. While the economy of the Euro area is still sluggish, the UK and – specifically – London have seen an incredible rise in capital inflow and employment rate. This is also true for all legal jobs, although with a few caveats.
Law is traditionally a very conservative area, intrinsically connected to the language and culture of a specific Country. Globalisation and international trade, far from affecting this feature, simply spread the use of Common Law and English language beyond what their original national borders were.
A good working knowledge of both the legal framework and the language is, therefore, a good predictor of your potential success in the English legal industry, but not a fundamental precondition.
The legal market is very dynamic and highly layered, with a range of temporary and permanent positions that range from legal assistant and paralegal to partner. In addition, these traditional roles are supported by a variety of professionals whose existence is rarely known outside of international law firms (e.g. Legal Executive, Litigation Support Lawyer, Legal Project Manager).
Moreover, the sheer number of deals, trials, arbitrations, mergers and acquisitions that take place every day in London, often with an international scope, can make a non-native English speaking lawyer looking more attractive that a 100% born and bread UK solicitor.
The good news is that the legal market in the UK is deeply meritocratic and it is growing at an unprecedented rate. The bad news is that this is not a secret and the competition is fierce, with applicants submitting their CVs from every corner of the world.
A golden rule for climbing the corporate ladder is that it is easier from the inside, instead that from the outside, regardless of your starting point. Many lawyers are qualified and have the relevant experience required but they may not be considered if they are holding a foreign qualification (see article on QLTS) and none of their professional experience has been developed in the UK and/or in a Magic or Silver Circle international law firm.
Luckily, the UK job market allows law firms to hire lawyers as contractors even for a couple of days and they are in great demand where specific skills and languages are required.
In fact, law firms (and corporations) frequently outsource specific aspect of trial or hire directly lawyers to perform an initial review of the documents related to a case. This job is called document review.
What the role of a document reviewer entails is explained in depth here, but for the purpose of this post it is sufficient to know that, in many instances, the amount of documents that a law firm needs to look at is enormous and the deadline is often quite tight. Over time, technological developments and budget constraints pushed law firms to find more efficient and cost-effective options of assessing the relevancy of a document for a specific litigation; one of which is to hire lawyers as contractors with the sole task of running a preliminary screening of the material on an electronic review platform. The filtered results are then passed on to the team of associates actually working on the case, in preparation for the witness interviews or for the trial bundles.
Document review is currently in great demand and with above average salary rates (ranging from £ 18/hour for paralegal roles to £45/hour for highly sensitive review in foreign languages). It represents an excellent professional experience and a fantastic stepping stone in the UK legal industry. It also perfectly fits those who are looking for a flexible life-style, without renouncing to the benefits that a law firm salary generally brings.
If you are interested in knowing more about document review and if you want to have access to our current job opportunities in Europe, fill in the form below and get in touch with us.