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WINNER: Maples and Calder

After a few years as the second-largest offshore firm in the world, Maples and Calder regained the top spot in 2012 after a year of office openings and lateral hires. The firm's legal and fiduciary arms together now employ more than 900 people. Maples' growth in 2012 saw it promote from within, with 11 associates made up. It also recruited laterally, picking up a team of seven partners and four associates from Walkers in the Cayman Islands and British Virgin Islands in a move which got offshore tongues wagging. Another high-profile hire was that of Karie Bergstrom from Deloitte as chief operating officer, a new role designed to co-ordinate global initiatives across the firm.

Last year also saw investment in technology as Maples rolled out enhanced, multi-jurisdictional services for clients as well as apps to keep clients up to date on developments. The firm also moved into Singapore, joining only a handful of rivals in the jurisdiction, and launched an Irish desk in Cayman to build on the continued success of its Dublin office.

Maples also put effort into its diversity programme in 2012 — an area where offshore firms traditionally do badly — and rolled out a series of women-focused initiatives. Throughout all the growth activity Maples manages to retain its market position and reputation as a go-to firm, acting for a significant proportion of funds and other structures in the jurisdictions in which it is present.

About Taylor Root

As leaders in the offshore legal recruitment market for many years, Taylor Root are delighted to sponsor the Offshore Law Firm of the Year category.

At Taylor Root we have a division that is dedicated to the Offshore market. Our specialist recruitment consultants know their markets and are able to advise lawyers on job opportunities and salaries as well as providing an informative insight into what it is like to work in the diverse range of Offshore jurisdictions.

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2ND: Carey Olsen

Carey Olsen’s move to Cayman and the British Virgin Islands (BVI) in 2012 was a significant step. The firm chose to go for the greenfield approach to launching in Cayman, picking a team from rivals with the aim of establishing a similar culture in the Caribbean to that which it has in the Channel Islands. Carey Olsen said the move had immediately attracted new clients. In early 2013 Cayman was followed up with an association with small BVI firm Hempel and Boyd in a further move away from its roots in Guernsey and Jersey.

However, the firm remains closely tied to those roots, playing a key role in developing the islands' legislation. It also retains a strong place in listed company adviser rankings, acting for more listed clients than other offshore outfits including five in the FTSE100 — and while IPOs are still scarce, there is a good chance that Carey Olsen will act when there is one. Carey Olsen reported strong percentage growth in both turnover and profit for 2011/12, setting it up well for future expansion.

3RD: Walkers

Last year was a crucial one for Walkers. The firm made a significant strategic move when it sold its management services business, Walkers Management Services (WMS), to Intertrust for an undisclosed amount. While other offshore firms of a similar size have largely retained their fiduciary businesses, Walkers chose to offload WMS to focus on law. The firm also elected its first female managing partner in the shape of Cayman-based Ingrid Pierce. Pierce has been at Walkers since 2002, having joined the firm from the commercial and chancery bar in London. She now has the challenge of leading a reshaped firm, which says it is continuing to evaluate where its clients want it to be in the world. The year saw success in Asia and other emerging markets, with Walkers pointing to significantly increased billings in China and client wins in the Middle East as a demonstration of its work in these areas. The firm promoted across its offices, including in Hong Kong and in its still-growing Dublin base.