Spring loaded

Strong demand from emerging economies is seeing offshore firms continue to punch above their weight, and figures suggest they will continue to do so. By Joanne Harris

In its sixth year The Lawyer’s offshore survey has undergone some rationalisation to bring it into line with what has been a rapidly changing offshore market. We have taken out jurisdictions such as Luxembourg, Malta and Switzerland, which are considered onshore by both lawyers and clients.

The resulting list introduces some new names, including Bermuda’s Mello Jones & Martin, Gibraltar’s Isolas, Simcocks in the Isle of Man and Channel Islands firms Crill Canavan and Babbé.

The latter firm must take a bow for being the only offshore outfit to openly declare its turnover. With a respectable £13m, Babbé’s turnover proves that offshore firms punch above their weight compared with their onshore counterparts – only one six-partner firm made it into The Lawyer’s UK 200 last year with a revenue of £6.9m. On a revenue per partner basis, Babbé is up there with the magic circle.

With the rest of the market remaining coy about revenue, the list continues to be ranked by number of partners. Having taken top spot in last year’s survey Appleby continues to streak ahead of its peers. The firm has boosted its partnership by eight in the past year and now has 82 partners spread throughout its 12 offices.

Maples and Calder and Walkers retain second and third spots respectively, but moving into fourth place after a June 2010 merger is Mourant Ozannes. With enlarged offices in both Guernsey and Jersey, as well as in the Cayman Islands and London, Mourant Ozannes has more fee-earners than any other firm except Appleby and is now the largest Channel Islands firm by some margin.

Indeed, the Channel Islands legal market is probably the one that has seen the most activity within the past year.

Appleby launched a Guernsey office in January, taking four partners from the pre-merger Ozannes. Ogier has overtaken Carey Olsen in terms of partner numbers, although both firms have expanded in the past year.

Bedell Cristin has moved up the rankings following the removal of Luxembourg firms from the list, but has also grown with six new partners during 2010. The firm’s equity partnership, however, has remained static at 15.

Next year will see a new Channel Islands entry into the offshore top 20 once the merger between Collas Day (number 14 in this year’s rankings) and Crill Canavan (number 19) takes place.

Where are the women?

For the first time this year’s survey calculates the proportion of female partners in offshore firms.

The story is, unfortunately, not good. Only six firms are able to boast that more than 15 per cent of their partners are female. Four offshore firms – Babbé, Cains Advocates, Cox Hallett Wilkinson and Triay & Triay – have no female partners at all. In the case of Cains, this is despite having a partnership of 14.

Top of the list is Crill Canavan, where two of the six partners are women. But larger firms also show well when it comes to their female partnerships. A third of Walkers’ 52 partners are women, 28 per cent of Appleby’s partnership is female and more than a quarter (27 per cent) of Conyers Dill & Pearman partners are women.

Women are also underrepresented in equity partnerships. After Crill Canavan, which has a 100 per cent equity partnership, women are best represented in Hassans’ equity. But just three equity partners, or 13 per cent of Hassans’ 24-strong equity partnership, are female.

However, as neither Appleby, Walkers nor Conyers provided equity partner numbers, it is difficult to compare firms precisely.

Partner-to-associate ratios are surprisingly even across the top 20 offshore firms. Most come in with around two associates to every partner. The outliers are Ogier, which employs 3.4 associates for every partner, and Cains, which has one partner for every 0.9 associates.

Overall the number of lawyers employed by offshore firms has tended to increase slightly in the past year. The total number of partners in firms involved in both last year’s survey and this year’s increased by 23, from 479 to 502. The total number of qualified lawyers, including partners and associates, has increased by just 28, from 1,468 in 2009 to 1,496 in 2010.

While this is such a small increase as to be negligible, it does display continuing confidence in offshore centres. Most firms have declared their intention to keep on growing, with several wanting to expand into new jurisdictions such as Asia or Latin America.

Certainly, the mood from the British Virgin Islands (BVI), Cayman and the Channel Islands is upbeat. Cayman remains the clear global leader as a funds domicile, while incorporations of BVI companies are rising back towards pre-crisis numbers.

Meanwhile, Guernsey and Jersey, although continuing to operate separately, are continuing a drive for innovative structures and sensible ­regulation. None of the major jurisdictions see any difficulty in complying with the equivalency terms of the EU Directive on Alternative Investment Fund Managers (AIFM), which was finally agreed last November.

Offshore firms are likely to continue to grow because there continues to be strong demand for their services, especially from emerging economies. It is unlikely to
be many years before one offshore firm – most likely Appleby – hits the 100-partner mark.

1 Appleby

Managing partner:Peter Bubenzer

Staff: 801

Fee-earners: 270

Qualified lawyers:222

Partners: 82

Equity partners: Not disclosed

Female partners: 23

Female equity partners:Not disclosed

Number of offices:12

Locations: Bahrain, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Guernsey, Hong Kong, Isle of Man, Jersey, London, Mauritius, Seychelles, Zurich

Key practice areas:Corporate and commercial, litigation and insolvency, private client and trusts, property

Key clients: Not disclosed


Staff: 204

Fee-earners: 169

Partners: Five

A little more than a year after its merger with Dickinson Cruickshank, Appleby has consolidated its position as the world’s largest offshore law firm. This was helped by the January 2010 addition of a Guernsey office with the hire of a four-partner team from Ozannes.

Appleby now has 82 partners and more than 220 lawyers in its 12 worldwide locations, plus another 200-plus staff in its fiduciary group.

The firm’s managing partner Peter Bubenzer expects corporate and commercial work to flourish in the next 12 months, but litigation and insolvency activity beginning to gradually decline.

Appleby also wants to expand its fiduciary business, expanding the jurisdictions from which it offers its services due to an expected increase in work.

2 Maples and Calder

Managing partner: Henry Smith

Staff: 564

Fee-earners: 193

Qualified lawyers:193

Partners: 61

Equity partners: 19

Female partners: Eight

Female equity partners: One

Number of offices: Nine

Locations: British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands (HQ), Dubai, Dublin, Hong Kong, London, Luxembourg (MaplesFS), Montreal (MaplesFS), New York (MaplesFS)

Key practice areas: Investment funds, corporate, finance, trusts, litigation, Latin America, private equity, insolvency and corporate restructuring, regulatory and

financial services, IP

Key clients: Not disclosed


Staff: 181

Fee-earners: 74

Partners: Nine

Maples and Calder maintains its position as the second-largest offshore firm, having added 26 lawyers in the past 12 months and maintaining its partner count. The firm recruited three partners – Liam Carney, Paul Dobbyn and Peter Stapleton – for its Dublin office and also picked up Harneys’ Hong Kong head Michael Gagie. In December Cayman funds lawyer Dawn Howe was promoted to partner.

However, Maples also lost four partners through a mixture of retirements and partner moves.

The firm’s fiduciary arm, MaplesFS, restructured in 2010 and is now offering fund administration and fiduciary services in separate operating divisions.

3 Walkers

Managing partner:Grant Stein

Staff: 354

Fee-earners: 157

Qualified lawyers:151

Partners: 52

Equity partners: Not disclosed

Female partners: 17

Female equity partners: Not disclosed

Number of offices: Nine

Locations: British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands (HQ), Dubai, Dublin, Delaware (management services), Hong Kong,

Jersey, London, Singapore

Key practice areas: Corporate and international finance law, hedge funds, private equity, capital markets and structured finance, asset finance, commercial litigation and dispute resolution, insolvency and corporate recovery, Islamic finance, trusts

Key clients: Apollo, Barclays Private Bank & Trusts, Blackstone Group, Carlyle Group, HSBC, Petrobas


Staff: 97

Walkers spent 2010 building and restructuring. The most significant development was the opening of the firm’s Irish office in September 2010 and the swift building of its core practice areas. The firm wants the Dublin office to be full-service and plans to continue its growth.

Walkers also formalised two teams focusing on separate regions – Latin America and Central and Eastern Europe. Another new team launched during 2010 was an employment group in Walkers’ Cayman office, advising on the full range of labour law issues.

In addition to making a number of partner hires and promotions in 2010, Walkers also hired Neil Sherlock as chief financial officer and David Smailes as chief information and technology officer, completing the management structure.

4 Mourant Ozannes

Managing partner:Jonathan Rigby

Staff: 442

Fee-earners: 211

Qualified lawyers:144

Partners: 49

Equity partners: 49

Female partners: Five

Female equity partners: Five

Number of offices: Four

Locations: Cayman Islands, Guernsey (HQ), Jersey (HQ), London

Key practice areas: Banking and finance, corporate, employment, financial services and regulatory, funds, insolvency and restructuring, insurance, litigation, property, trusts

Key clients: HSBC, Credit Suisse, CVC Capital Partners, Henderson, State Street, Royal Bank of Canada

Mourant Ozannes leapfrogs Conyers Dill & Pearman to become the fourth-largest offshore firm by partner numbers, six months after the merger between Channel Islands firms Mourant du Feu & Jeune and Ozannes took effect.

The firm has adopted an all-equity partnership with a single profit pool and aims to complete its post-merger integration by 31 May this year.

Since merging, Mourant Ozannes has hired Simon Palmer from Maples and Calder and Charles Russell partner Morven McMillan for its Cayman office. There have been more hires in 2011.

Mourant Ozannes plans to keep on growing its Cayman team, as well as establish an office in the Far East, during the course of this year.

5 Conyers Dill & Pearman

Chairman: John Collis

Staff: 584

Fee-earners: 187

Qualified lawyers:152

Partners: 45

Equity partners: Not disclosed

Female partners: 12

Female equity partners: Not disclosed

Number of offices: 11

Locations: Anguilla, Bermuda (HQ), British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dubai, Hong Kong, London, Mauritius, Moscow, São Paulo, Singapore

Key practice areas: Aircraft and ship registration and finance, banking and finance, bankruptcy, restructuring and insolvency, commercial litigation, corporate, company and commercial, insurance and reinsurance, IP, trademarks and patents, investment funds, property, trusts and private client

Key clients:Fidelity, General Electric, HSBC, Macquarie Group, Man Investments, Pepsi

Although Conyers Dill & Pearman went public a year ago with its plans to set up in the Channel Islands, offices in Guernsey and Jersey are still in development.

Meanwhile, the firm’s strategy was focused around the emerging Bric economies, with several lawyer relocations to capitalise on cross-border work. In addition, Conyers’ São Paulo office expanded by two lawyers.

The firm held its largest partner promotion round for three years, making up five partners.

Chairman John Collis believes there will be increased activity in M&A and in corporate and commercial finance, and also, from certain parts of the world, in new IPOs during 2011. He says investment activity is also picking up again.

6 Ogier

CEO: Nick Kershaw

Staff: 285

Fee-earners: 194

Qualified lawyers:171

Partners: 39

Equity partners: 25

Female partners: Four

Female equity partners: Three

Number of offices: Nine

Locations: Bahrain, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Guernsey, Hong Kong, Jersey (HQ), London, Tokyo

Key practice areas: Banking and finance, corporate and commercial, listing services, derivatives, employee benefits, employment, investment funds, litigation, private wealth, trusts, real estate, restructuring and insolvency

Key clients: Barclays Bank, Deutsche Bank, Lloyds TSB, RBS, Thomas Cook, United Company Rusal


Staff: 295

Fee-earners: 52

Partners: Seven

Ogier focused on Asia at the start of 2010, appointing Jersey advocate Nathan Powell to join partner Marcus Leese in the firm’s Hong Kong office. Powell was made up in February this year. The office now has nearly 40 members of staff and has doubled in size in the past 12 months. The firm plans to keep focusing on the region during 2011 and is examining the possibility of further representative offices in Asia.

Ogier made up seven associates to partner in February 2010, at the same time hiring partner Nick Rogers from Walkers. In September Ogier’s Jersey staff moved into a new building, which is the largest single-occupancy office on the island.

7 Carey Olsen

Chairman: John Kelleher

Staff: 263

Fee-earners: 135

Qualified lawyers:108

Partners: 37

Equity partners: 28

Female partners: Four

Female equity partners: Three

Number of offices: Three

Locations: Guernsey (HQ), Jersey (HQ), London

Key practice areas: Banking, corporate and finance, employment, funds and private equity, litigation and dispute resolution, property, trusts and fiduciary

Key clients: Deutsche Bank, Henderson Group, HSBC, Northern Trust, Resolution, Société Générale

Although it has been overtaken as the Channel Islands’ largest partnership by the newly merged Mourant Ozannes and the ever-expanding Ogier, Carey Olsen continued to grow its partnership last year. It recruited Christopher Anderson from Bedell Cristin and James Mulholland from O’Melveny & Myers, as well as promoting two senior associates.

Chairman John Kelleher reports a significant amount of corporate activity, with instructions from companies such as FTSE100 group Wolseley, as well as continuing strength in its AIM practice. Funds also remains an important part of the firm’s offering, with the firm acting for almost 1,200 Channel Islands-domiciled or administered funds.

8 Bedell Cristin

Managing partner:Richard Gerwat

Staff: 140

Fee-earners: 75

Qualified lawyers: 64

Partners: 30

Equity partners: 15

Female partners: Four

Female equity partners: One

Number of offices: Six

Locations: Dublin, Geneva, Guernsey, ­Jersey (HQ), London, Mauritius

Key practice areas: Banking, corporate finance, capital markets and structured finance

Key clients: Aviva, Barclays Capital, Credit Suisse, IK Investment Partners, Kleinwort Benson Group, Lloyds TSB, RBS, Rothschild


Staff: 142

Fee-earners: 99

Partners: 15

Last year was a busy one for Channel Islands-headquartered Bedell Cristin. The firm restructured into three core teams – corporate and financial services, litigation and insolvency and international private client.

In an effort to extend the firm’s footprint, Bedell Cristin has also developed a British Virgin Islands law capability headed by partner Simon Pascoe. In November Bedell Cristin opened its Mauritius office. The firm wants to build on these developments by bringing in more work from Asian clients.

9 Hassans

Managing partner:Javier Chincotta

Staff: 250

Fee-earners: 78

Qualified lawyers:74

Partners: 27

Equity partners: 25

Female partners: Five

Female equity partners: Three

Number of offices: Two

Locations: Gibraltar (HQ), Spain

Key practice areas: Corporate and commercial, real estate, tax, private client and trusts, financial services, funds, trust and company management, Spanish law, legislative drafting, litigation

Key clients: Barclays, Deutsche Bank, Lloyds TSB, Taylor Woodrow,Transcoma Group


Staff: 72

Fee-earners: 62

Hassans is making the most of its accreditation by the Law Society of England and Wales to offer training contracts to would-be solicitors, and last year recruited three trainees plus four barristers to strengthen its ranks.

All but one of the recruits spent time in the firm’s summer placement programme, designed to attract talent from the local community.

Work-wise, the firm was involved on a range of big-ticket corporate deals and also drafted new corporate tax legislation introduced in Gibraltar.

10 Harney Westwood & Riegels

Managing partner:Richard Peters

Staff: 221

Fee-earners: 82

Qualified lawyers:75

Partners: 24

Equity partners: Not disclosed

Female partners: Eight

Female equity partners: Not disclosed

Number of offices: Six

Locations: British Virgin Islands (BVI) (HQ), Cayman Islands, Cyprus, Hong Kong, Montevideo

Key practice areas: Corporate and commercial, banking and finance, litigation, trusts and private client, investment funds and private equity, tax, regulatory

Key clients: Citibank, HSBC, TNK-BP Vale, Virgin

Harney Westwood & Riegels spent 2010 consolidating and growing around the world. Its ventures into Cyprus in April and Uruguay in September were offshore firsts, although the jury is still out on how sucessful these openings will be. Harneys wants to gain market share in Russia and Latin America by virtue of having presences in these locations. The firm also plans to add a litigation department in Hong Kong and build its trusts capability in the Caribbean this year.

Work last year was varied and included an instruction from Reynolds Group on its $4.6bn (£2.9bn) acquisition of Pactiv Corporation and an appearance in the BVI Commercial Court in connection with the international case BTA Bank v Ablyazov.

11 Maitland

Managing director: Steve Georgala

Staff: 55

Fee-earners: 40

Qualified lawyers:36

Partners: 18

Equity partners: Not disclosed

Female partners: Two

Female equity partners: Not disclosed

Number of offices: 11

Locations: British Virgin Islands, Cape Town, Dublin, Durban, Geneva, Isle of Man, Johannesburg, London (HQ), Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco

Key practice areas: Private client, international tax planning, corporate and commercial, banking and finance, investment funds, dispute resolution

Key clients: AngloGold Ashanti, Brait, E Oppenheimer & Son


Staff: 158

The legal arm of Maitland remains tiny compared with its fund and administration services group. The firm did make two partner hires in 2010, bringing in Michael Cuthbert to its Monaco office, who was previously  the Russia managing partner at Clifford Chance. Daniel Mackelden, formerly head of Cains’ London office, also joined the firm.

Maitland plans to expand its private client offering to support its wider wealth advisory capability and also wants to hire more lawyers for its funds and corporate and commercial teams.

12 Cains Advocates

Managing partner: Andrew Corlett

Staff: 60

Fee-earners: 31

Qualified lawyers: 27

Directors (partners): 14

Shareholders (equity partners): Six

Female directors: None

Female shareholders: None

Number of offices: Three

Locations: Isle of Man (HQ), London, Singapore

Key practice areas:Corporate and commercial

Key clients: AngloGold Ashanti Holdings Finance, Barclays Bank, Genting, Lloyds Banking Group, NCL Corporation, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) as liquidator of Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander (Isle of Man)


Staff: 24

Fee-earners: 17

Partners: 10

Isle of Man firm Cains reported a strong year, with double-digit growth in revenue. Its partner count shrank by two, but the firm did add 11 lawyers.

Cains acted on a number of high-profile and high-value deals, including being instructed by PwC on its role as joint liquidators of Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander’s Isle of Man business. In 2011 the firm will consolidate its legal and fiduciary businesses into one building to integrate the two.

13 Triay & Triay

Managing partner: Joseph Triay

Staff: 65

Fee-earners: 30

Qualified lawyers: 30

Partners: 10

Equity partners: 10

Female partners: None

Female equity partners: None

Number of offices: Three

Locations: Cadiz, Gibraltar (HQ), Marbella

Key practice areas: Banking and financial services, commercial, insolvency, insurance, private client, property, shipping, tax, trademarks, trusts

Key clients: Not disclosed

Gibraltar’s Triay & Triay reinforced its funds and litigation departments in 2010 with the hire of four associates.

The hires follow a significant increase in activity for the firm’s funds, insurance and commercial and shipping litigation departments. The firm also expects an increase in work arising from recent changes to Gibraltar’s tax laws.

14 Collas Day

Senior partner: Chris Bound

Chief operating officer: Mike Tidd

Staff: 75

Fee-earners: 40

Qualified lawyers: 27

Partners: Nine

Equity partners: Eight

Female partners: One

Female equity partners: One

Number of offices: Two

Locations: Guernsey (HQ), London

Key practice areas: Corporate and commercial, investment funds and private equity, dispute resolution, employment, risk and regulatory, fiduciary and private client, commercial and residential property, banking and finance, IP, e-gaming

Key clients: Clifford Chance, Cravath Swaine & Moore, Deloitte, HSBC, Olswang, RBS, SJ Berwin


Staff: 10

Fee-earners: 10

This is the last year Collas Day will appear in our offshore survey in its current incarnation, as the firm is merging with Jersey-based Crill Canavan in April.

In the past 12 months the firm added one partner and increased its equity partnership by two. The total number of lawyers at Collas Day, meanwhile, went up to 27 from 23 at the end of 2009.

The firm’s biggest piece of work was an instruction for Credit Suisse relating to a $6bn restructuring, on which partner Jason Romer advised.

15 Mello Jones & Martin

Staff: 70

Fee-earners: 24

Qualified lawyers: 24

Partners: 8

Equity partners: not disclosed

Female partners: 1

Female equity partners: not disclosed

Number of offices: 1

Location: Bermuda

Key practice areas: Corporate, employment, litigation, family, property, trusts, wills and estates

Clients: not disclosed

Fiduciary: staff: 5

Mello Jones & Martin celebrated its 20th anniversary last year. The Bermuda firm was founded through the 1990 merger between Mello & Jones and Hollis & Co, and became Mello Jones & Martin 10 years later. Its partnership includes two QCs – Saul Froomkin and Michael Mello. Last year the firm hired senior associate Inge Poulus from Conyers Dill & Pearman to strengthen its commercial finance practice.

16 Isolas

Managing partner: Christian Rocca

Staff: 50

Fee-earners: 22

Qualified lawyers:22

Partners: Seven

Equity partners: Not disclosed

Female partners: One

Female equity partners:Not disclosed

Number of offices:Two

Locations: Gibraltar (HQ), Spain

Key practice areas:Funds, gaming and e-commerce, shipping, corporate and corporate finance, property, banking and financial services, regulatory, litigation, trusts, tax and estate planning

Key clients:Europort International

Holdings, Gibraltar Financial Services Commission, the government of Gibraltar, Jyske Bank, Lombard, Ministry of Defence

Gibraltar firm Isolas has had a busy year as the jurisdiction continues to grow its funds industry. Managing partner Christian Rocca predicts high levels of litigation in the commercial and trust dispute context, as well as a growing demand for services in Gibraltar’s gaming and e-commerce sectors in the next year.

During 2010 Isolas recruited employment partner Mark Isola from local rival Triay & Triay. It has plans to continue developing its presence in Gibraltar, but also wants to target new markets, including India, Russia and the Middle East.

17 Simcocks

Chief executive: Phil Games

Staff: 31

Fee-earners: 28

Qualified lawyers:19

Directors (partners): Seven

Equity partners: Not disclosed

Female partners: One

Female equity partners: Not disclosed

Number of offices: Two

Locations: Isle of Man (HQ), London

Key practice areas: Banking and finance, corporate and commercial, litigation and dispute resolution, employment, family, property, trusts

Key clients: Not disclosed

Isle of Man-based firm Simcocks makes its debut in the offshore survey with seven partners. The firm is well-established on the island after being founded by Howard Simcocks in 1949 and also has a London office.

Last year Simcocks made up two lawyers, Robert Lindley and Alex Spencer, to the role of director. Meanwhile, associate Adam Kelly was reappointed to the role of chairman of the Isle of Man Copyright Tribunal.

18 Babbé

Managing partner: Andrew Laws

Staff: 38

Fee-earners: 19

Qualified lawyers: 19

Partners: Six

Equity partners: Six

Female partners: None

Female equity partners: None

Number of offices: One

Location: Guernsey

Key practice areas: Dispute resolution, funds, fiduciary, corporate and commercial, commercial property

Key clients: XXIV Old Buildings, Credit Suisse,