There was a time when each of the major offshore jurisdictions had only a small handful of major players who dominated the local market, and it was rare for a firm to think about breaking into the legal market on another Island.
This limited choice and competition, both for clients and also for prospective expats who had thought about making the move to work as a lawyer abroad.
In recent years this has all changed.
Most of the Offshore Magic Circle firms now have a presence in all the other jurisdictions that matter. So it’s no longer the case, for example, that Cayman-based firms only will practice Cayman law. There is an expanding and vibrant international legal market where firms based out of the BVI and Jersey, say, can be up against each other to provide legal advice to an overseas client via Hong Kong.
Further, in tandem with the policies of the Islands’ governing bodies to protect their jurisdiction’s reputation and promote locally-based employment, this has led to an enhanced demand for firms to maintain an appropriate presence of legal talent in situ in each jurisdiction.
This is great news for lawyers considering a move offshore. The range of opportunities has never been better.
An improved jobs market
There are other reasons why the jobs market on the Islands has improved.
First, due to the improved variety of legal practices operating in each territory, it has become easier and more acceptable to switch employers when a more interesting local opportunity arises. In other words, there is no longer anything like the stigma there once used to be about ‘going to the other side’.
Second, now that the Offshore Magic Circle firms are widely represented in multiple locations, it’s quite common to move from one territory to another within your own firm*, thereby improving prospects of advancement by opening up new opportunities, and also keeping life interesting.
And beyond locations such as Bermuda, the BVI, the Cayman Islands, Guernsey and Jersey, the Offshore Magic Circle have been busy building up a presence or affiliations in business centres such as London, Dubai, Hong Kong and Singapore, amongst other locations.
For many professionals who venture offshore, the unspoken questions at the back of their mind are ‘What will going abroad do to my career prospects?’ and ‘When will I go back?’.
The fact is that many lawyers – once they experience living offshore – find that the idea of returning to the City loses its appeal.
This has little to do with any outmoded fear about a period spent abroad being a one-way ticket but rather more to do with the exceptional professional, financial and personal benefits that go hand in hand with the move.
This can only be truly discovered by doing it for yourself.
*Note that a move to another jurisdiction can even be possible without changing your client base, as illustrated in our earlier example where you no longer actually have to be based in the Cayman Islands to practice Cayman law
If you are a lawyer and interested in working in the Bermuda/Caribbean region, visit our jobs portal to see the latest vacancies. Our site also includes a downloadable All You Need to Know guide which will tell you all you need to know about living and working offshore.