We recently wrote a piece on growing opportunities for business services professionals in US firms – in both London and/or the US. In this follow-up blog, we take a closer look at the attractions of US firms for UK-based candidates, and how those interested in such roles can both secure a job and thrive in a US operation.

US firms with offices in London have stormed up the legal league tables in recent years. There are now 29 US-headquartered firms listed in the The Lawyer’s 100-firm Global London Index, a rise of three this year alone. And of the 32 firms in the Index that posted a double-digit revenue rise last year, 20 have their headquarters in the US (although exchange rates have a part to play in this). It is hardly surprising, though, that US firms increasingly register on the radar of talented candidates seeking new opportunities.

Of course, as US and UK firms have become increasingly entwined the choice of working for a UK or US firm isn’t as clear-cut as it may once have been. Transatlantic mergers like those of Hogan Lovells and Norton Rose Fulbright have resulted in global operations that would unlikely identify themselves on any kind of national lines. Those working within these firms enjoy a global ethos rather than a specifically UK or US culture.

There are also new opportunities arising for business services professionals to join US firms in roles based in the States. We have worked on a number of such appointments and only expect them to further grow in 2018. These pose unique propositions for candidates, not least a move overseas.

Tips for US success


But there remain some general distinctions that are worth understanding before deciding whether to apply to a US firm. Here are our top six:

  1. US firms may be big, but their London offices tend to be smaller than many UK law firms headquartered in London. A business services role in a US firm’s London office may therefore feel like working for a smaller firm with broader responsibilities and potentially greater variety reflecting the more general needs of the smaller team.
  2. The overall business, however, will still be global providing both prestige and a big-picture perspective. Many candidates are enticed by this balance.
  3. If joining a London office of a US firm, expect to work with the highest quality of lawyers – but with potentially more exposure to people across the office, again emanating from that smaller-firm feel.
  4. Candidates who have gained experience in the sophisticated business services functions of large UK firms are in high demand in US firms seeking to up their game in, say, marketing and business development. This can mean good opportunities to build teams and grow functional expertise – whether from London or increasingly from US bases too.
  5. US firms in London have a reputation for offering attractive salaries. They are also known to balance this with demanding work expectations. Many candidates worry this means minimal work-life balance in US firms. However, while candidates can expect to be challenged, this reputation doesn’t always translate to the business services community. Do expect, however, to be rewarded for showing versatility, commitment and a can-do attitude.
  6. Business services job titles and team structures in US firms can differ from UK firms. Your recruiter should be able to guide you through the specifics of any role and match up your skills accordingly.

We have placed many candidates into US firms from magic circle UK firms, but also from outside the legal sector too – from financial services, insurance and other professional services backgrounds. Come and have a chat with us if you would like to discuss the opportunities and whether a US firm might be right for you – whether in London or, indeed, in the US. We would be delighted to help you steer the right course for your career.



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