What a choice – rainswept UK or sun-soaked Bermuda or the Cayman Islands.
Traditionally, the offshore legal world has been dogged by a questionable reputation. Yet as jurisdictions such as Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands and the Channel Islands compete to attract business, standards have improved significantly. As a result, for lawyers working onshore, a move offshore is one way of diversifying their career.
With seven offices across the globe, offshore firm Appleby is well aware of the varying demands placed on lawyers when they move into an offshore jurisdiction.
While offshore firms work under the common law model, different regulators have varying demands when it comes to where and how to practise.
Appleby global HR director Gareth Russell says: “Each location has its own requirements. What we want to manage is the knowledge those lawyers have and how they train.”
Russell says Appleby’s lawyers are trained through team development in each jurisdiction and individually tailored training programmes.
“If they’re coming in from another jurisdiction you have to have tailored courses,” he explains. This means each Appleby lawyer has their own training programme tailored to the needs of the individual first and the firm second.
Appleby recruits at all levels, from trainees to barristers. Each jurisdiction takes on two trainees annually – with the exception of Bermuda, which takes up to four annually.
Head of Appleby Jersey, Fraser Robertson, says the firm will look to recruit domestically and from onshore regions. In Jersey it runs an annual summer school aimed at encouraging sixth-formers and undergraduates to take up a career in offshore law.
“They get between four and five weeks to experience the different groups,” explains Robertson. “It’s almost paralegal-type work where they get to do some research and give professional support. We take on between six and seven a year and we do find that it’s a successful and beneficial scheme for recruiting.”
Before lawyers can practise in Jersey they are required to pass an advocacy exam on the island and must also
have been employed by a Jersey firm for two years.
“That’s about the right time to give a reasonable basis to sit the exams,” says Robertson.
For associates with between one and five years’ PQE Appleby has a mentoring and training programme in place. Associates are paired with mentors with at least five years’ PQE.
Robertson believes those looking to break into a career in the bar will soon be considering their offshore options much more seriously.
“We see that, going forward, if the bar continues to be difficult to break into and the number of places being offered continues to fall, people will be looking
to develop their careers offshore,” he says.
Robertson believes the offshore legal world is becoming increasingly attractive for young lawyers as they strive to demonstrate real diversification in their career paths.
“Another reason is that in a firm such as Appleby there is always the possibility of a secondment to another jurisdiction,” he says.