Apr 20, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Alyssa Walker

Some high-powered lawyers in the UK are leaving--and the US is hiring.

According to a report in the Financial Times, many lawyers in the UK's "magic circle"--the elite group of London law firms--are headed overseas.

Why? Opportunity. 

The Financial Times report explains that US firms with London offices are promising lawyers from the magic circle more money and "access to US clients in “red hot” areas, such as private equity or white-collar crime."

Many of these US firms also the benefit of a network: US investment banks and private equity firms. 

The article highlights a few lawyers who moved to the US. One of them is Charlie Geffen, chair of the US firm Gibson Dunn's London corporate practice. He explained that lawyers who leave the UK for the US work on global regulatory investigations from the US Department of Justice.

He said, "There has been an increased trickle of talent from English firms to US firms. Five years ago it was unthinkable, but US law firm culture is now much better understood."

Though top lawyers in the UK earn high salaries, they earn more in the US--to the tune of several hundred thousand dollars. 

One difference? Time at work. US firms demand more hours than their UK counterparts. On average, top US lawyers clock up to 2,200 hours per year, as opposed to 1,800 at magic circle firms. 

The transition is competitive. One new UK partner at a US firm said, "You have to deliver otherwise you will be out within two years."

Despite the recent trend, most magic circle firms have held onto most of their lawyers and have initiated some incentives to convince them to stay.

Bottom line? It's a personal decision and one that some UK lawyers choose to make.

Learn more about studying law in the US and the UK

Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

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