Job Watch: Offshore

Offshore continues to be a busy area, but what are the job prospects there like at the moment?

“There’s been a surge in hiring in the Channel Islands, particularly Guernsey as it is establishing itself as a significant financial hub,” notes James Franklin, manager of private practice at Robert Walters.

The downturn, coupled with the associated closer scrutiny of large-scale financial arrangements, has led to a flight to perceived quality, meaning better regulated offshore markets such as Jersey have become popular again,” stresses Guy Adams, director of private practice at Laurence Simons.

“In the Caribbean, firms continue to hire strong corporate, litigation and finance lawyers. Interestingly, many firms appear to be up-scaling the quality of candidates they are willing to offer,” adds Franklin. “Whereas a few years ago the level of lawyers looking to go offshore was relatively low, there are now more candidates to choose from and firms have become more selective.”

Adams notes: “Although funds-based work continues to dominate the offshore markets it may surprise some that corporate, corporate finance, restructuring and commercial litigation now account for significant proportions of most firms’ revenues.”

So where are the best opportunities in the market?

“There are opportunities for litigators across the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands for UK-qualified lawyers; equally there are opportunities in Jersey, but in all jurisdictions you will need to qualify into the local bar,” highlights Franklin. “For finance and corporate lawyers, there are positions available in all jurisdictions, but if you’re going to the Caribbean you may have to have a certain level of experience to fulfil visa criteria.”

For Adams, the key thing is how offshore law firms have diversified in recent years.

“The main change in the past few years is the diversification by offshore law firms into low-tax jurisdictions including Luxembourg, Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai and Moscow,” he says.

As for in-house positions, although the opportunities may not be as plentiful as they are in private practice, there are some choice jobs to be found, according to Adams.

“On the in-house side, the offshore markets are perhaps not quite so busy, but there are select opportunities for people with the right experience,” he says. “As you would expect, most of the positions are in the funds and financial services spaces, more often than not requiring people who have substantial experience in the relevant jurisdiction.”

Franklin adds: “We have recently seen a growth in in-house roles, particularly in wealth management/fiduciary businesses. The mainstay of offshore in-house roles is across these financial services and most of the wealth management arms of big banks have legal teams as well as large capital investors. These roles are generally located in the Channel Islands, with Jersey being a central hub.”