Dolman travels regularly to New York and has undertaken successful recruitment drives for top United States law firms seeking to recruit talented Australian and New Zealand lawyers. Well-trained lawyers from most fields of expertise can now seriously consider New York an option.


Australians are entitled to work in the USA provided that they obtain the appropriate visa before leaving Australia.

E-3 visas

As an off-shoot of the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement, the US Congress passed legislation on 11 May 2005 which dramatically increases the ability of Australian professionals with tertiary qualifications to work in the USA.

The legislation creates a generous new visa category, the E-3 visa, which allows 10,500 Australian workers with a ‘specialty occupation’ to work in the US each year. This is in addition to the approximately 900 Australians who are granted entry each year under the standard H visa.

The E-3 visa grants the applicant two years’ admission to the US and the right to work. The visa is renewable for two years at a time and there is no limit on the number of times it can be renewed.

The visa also allows the spouse and any minor children to relocate to the USA. Quite unusually, the visa gives the spouse unrestricted working rights while in the USA. Spouses and children are not included in the 10,500 visas to be issued per year.

To be eligible, an applicant must be an Australian national, and must have at least a bachelor’s degree in the specialty occupation. Practice as a lawyer is a specialty occupation for the purposes of this visa. The applicant must have arranged employment in their specialty field in the US before they apply.

The application procedure involves the completion of a Labor Condition Application (LCA) from the US Department of Labor by the US employer. This certification needs to be presented on application with:

  • A completed DS-156 application form;
  • If the applicant is male and aged 16-45, a completed DS-157 form;
  • Standard accompaniments to US visa applications, including a recent passport photograph and a valid Australian passport;
  • Proof of a job offer in the US (an Immigration and Naturalization Service approved petition in form I-797);
  • Proof that the role is a ‘specialty occupation’; and
  • Evidence of the tertiary education requirements for the visa.

Application forms will be available from the US Consulate Website, as soon as procedures for the new E-3 visa are finalized.

Applications will be able to be lodged by mail or at US Consular Offices (in each capital city). Processing fees generally consist of A $130.00 for the application fee and A$136.50 for the issuance of the visa and can be paid at Australia Post. Processing fees vary for people who are not Australian nationals.

Though the visa is able to be renewed an indefinite number of times, the visa requires the applicant and any family members who have come to the USA associated with the visa to leave upon the completion of the employment.


This category of visa is open to most types of workers, but a maximum of 65,000 visas are issued globally each year. Every year, about 900 Australians gain entry to the US via this method. There are limits to the number of people from one occupation that can be admitted each year.

To apply for this category of visa, an Australian applicant must:

  • Lodge a completed DS-156 form, including a petition from your US employer (form I-797, which must be approved by the US Department of Immigration and Naturalization Services);
  • If the applicant is male and aged 16-45, lodge a completed DS-157 form;
  • Lodge a recent passport photograph and valid Australian passport;
  • Present any previous US visas;
  • Pay the prescribed processing fees (the same amounts as for the E-3 visa); and
  • Include a self addressed prepaid envelope for the return of original documents.

If granted a visa, applicants may be accompanied by their families (spouse and dependents). Family members will not have the right to work in the US.

This visa allows the applicant to work in the USA for as long as their period of employment extends. Applicants and any dependents are expected to leave at the conclusion of their employment.


Practicing in New York


  • Australian lawyers wishing to practice in New York must pass the local New York bar exam. Lawyers admitted to any Australian state and graduated law students are all eligible to sit the exam. The New York Bar Exam includes the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) and the New York portion.
  • The New York portion is comprised of five essay questions, 50 multiple-choice questions and one Multistate Performance Test (MPT) administered in a 6-1/4-hour time period. The New York portion is based on both procedural and substantive law. The MPT requires candidates to complete an assigned task, such as the preparation of a legal document, using resource material provided.
  • The MBE is a 200-question, general law, multiple-choice exam.
  • Subjects tested on the MBE are: Contracts & Sales, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law & Procedure, Evidence, Real Property, and Torts. Subjects tested on the NY portion of the Exam include all subjects tested on the MBE and: NY Constitutional Law, Business Relationships (Agency, Partnerships, and Corporations), Conflict of Laws, Family Law (Domestic Relations), Professional Responsibility, Remedies, Trusts, Wills, & Estates (Including Estate Taxation), U.C.C. Articles 2 (Sales), 3 (Negotiable Instruments),& 9 (Secured Transactions), New York and Federal Civil Jurisdiction & Procedure, Personal Property, No-Fault Insurance, and Workmen’s Compensation.
  • The five essays count for 40% of the candidate’s score, the New York multiple-choice questions comprise 10% of the total score, the MPT consists of 10% of the total score and the MBE contributes the remaining 40%. Each of the portions is converted to a scaled score on a 0 - 1000 scale and then those scores are weighted and combined to yield a score on the same scale of 0 - 1000. A final weighted scaled score of 665 is required to pass. An application to take the New York Bar Exam and exam information may be obtained by contacting the New York State Board of Law Examiners.

Top Firms


  • Allen & Overy
  • Baker & McKenzie
  • Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft
  • Chadbourne Parke
  • Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton
  • Cravath Swaine & Moore
  • Davis Polk & Wardwell
  • Debevoise & Plimpton
  • Dechert
  • Dewey Ballantine
  • Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson
  • Gibson Dunn & Crutcher
  • Jones Day
  • Kirkland & Ellis
  • Latham & Watkins
  • Linklaters
  • Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw
  • Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy
  • Morrison & Foerster
  • O’Melveny & Myers
  • Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison
  • Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman
  • Shearman & Sterling
  • Sidley Austin Brown & Wood
  • Simpson Thacher & Bartlett
  • Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom
  • Sullivan & Cromwell
  • Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz
  • Weil Gotshal & Manges
  • White & Case
  • Willkie Farr & Gallagher

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