November 22, 2017

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Hitting the Road: Exploring the Options for Working Abroad

As the global marketplace continues to grow, so do the opportunities to expand your professional and personal experience by working in another country. For attorneys contemplating transitions to firms or companies located abroad, there are undoubtedly many important factors to consider before embarking on a potentially exciting and enriching career move.

Perhaps you've had your sights set on working in a specific country for some time or you have narrowed the field down to a few destinations. Even if you haven't yet decided where you want to work internationally, taking the time to evaluate your motivations for taking your career abroad can be an important first step in your decision-making process.

Attorney Sejal Gandhi loves to travel and was especially interested in pursuing work outside the U.S. after finishing law school. For her, taking advantage of the opportunity to spend a year working for legal- and employment-services company Juriscape in its office in Ahmedabad, India, has been personally and professionally fulfilling.

"I think I'm so lucky to be able to spend a full year in India, in the same city where my family is from," Gandhi said. "Additionally, in terms of work experience, as the business and legal market becomes increasingly globalized, I think having international work experience will become increasingly important and relevant for attorneys."

After deciding where you'd like to work and why, you can begin the careful preparation and research necessary for making a successful transition to an internationally based workplace. Maybe your interest in a particular country is inspired by your understanding of its language, culture, business practices, or growing markets. Or perhaps you have had firsthand experience residing in your desired work location.

If not, or even if you're already acquainted with certain aspects of your targeted destination, it pays to do as much homework as possible before making such a big move. Familiarizing yourself with a country's language, customs, laws, and living and working environments can help make your experience more rewarding. The U.S. Department of State offers a thorough online guide that includes helpful tips for Americans considering living abroad.

It's also important to get the latest information on obtaining necessary documents like visas and to learn about the specific country's work requirements and restrictions, particularly if you're interested in practicing law there.

Another important factor to consider before pursuing your career abroad is determining the best way to make the move. One of the more convenient options is to transfer to an international office through your present employer. If this is not an option, there are numerous online resources for international job searches, including sites like LawCrossing, which includes listings for legal jobs around the world, and LawCrossing UK, which features legal employment opportunities throughout the United Kingdom.

Although it takes time, preparation, and risk, working abroad can provide numerous benefits. Gandhi encourages other attorneys who are thinking about the option to give it serious consideration, regardless of their practice areas or specialties.

"No matter where you decide to work abroad, you will inevitably learn so much about international business and law. That's experience you simply cannot gain from working in the U.S.," she said.