Originally from the Isle of Man, I’ve been working here as a corporate and private client lawyer for the past six years, and I’m still amazed at the continuing success of the Isle of Man as an international finance centre, and at the calibre of some of the professionals to be found here.
Lawyers practising in the Isle of Man consist of some who are qualified as Isle of Man advocates, and some qualified in other jurisdictions who practice as foreign lawyers, either as employees of advocates or as registered legal practitioners in their own right. Many former City lawyers have been attracted by the fact that the Isle of Man offers the ability to balance an interesting variety of City-grade work with reasonable working hours and some proper time and space for family life.
While larger than any of the Channel Islands, nowhere in the Isle of Man is more than an hour’s drive away from Douglas, the capital, and most Maitland lawyers have a commute of no more than fifteen minutes’ drive to the office (generally, the island’s vintage railway system is left to the tourists). However, I’m the exception to this rule, living half an hour’s commute away in Port St Mary, a pretty fishing village in the south of the island.
After work, there is a good mix of fishing, golf and other outdoor pursuits on offer, and a discerning diner can discover a number of excellent restaurants, serving everything from the famous Manx kipper (which, contrary to English practice, must never be eaten for breakfast) to superior international cuisine. The pace of life tends to speed up considerably for two weeks in June each year, when bikers from all over the world descend on the island for the TT motorcycle races.
In Maitland’s Isle of Man office, we like to think that we have the finest location of any of the firm’s 12 offices across Europe, South Africa and the Caribbean (although this is likely to be disputed by our colleagues!). Our building, a white crenellated fantasy castle on a cliff top high above the promenades of Douglas, served as a grand Victorian residence and then as a hotel, prior to becoming the home of about 80 of Maitland’s 550 staff worldwide.
No doubt many have a fixed idea of what the weather is like in the Isle of Man, but generally we are better off than those in the surrounding parts of Scotland, Ireland and England. From my office window today, I look out over a sunlit and calm Irish Sea to the mountains of the English Lake District; tomorrow, I could be looking out as a storm whips the sea up into nothing but white foam. Most importantly, no one can say it is boring.