The Offshore Top 30, 2014: rankings and analysis

Ogier and Carey Olsen climb the charts due to a new ranking method but Maples and Calder still hits top spot

1 Maples and Calder

Managing partner: Henry Smith


Staff: 713

Fee-earners: 324

Qualified lawyers: 254

Partners: 89

Equity partners: not disclosed (ND)

Female partners: 18

Female equity partners: ND


Staff: 301

Fee-earners: 220

Growth was again the watchword for Maples and Calder, which now employs over 1,000 people across its law firm and fiduciary. The firm added a net seven partners, with retirements offsetting the promotion of seven male lawyers and two women in December 2012. There was no change in the net number of female partners, pushing the proportion of women in the partnership down from 22 per cent last year to 20 per cent.

Maples has become increasingly technology-focused over the past year. Its self-developed extranet, Maples eServices, was enhanced to offer multi-jurisdictional services, and is now available for client entities domiciled around the firm’s global network of offices.

Fiduciary business Maples Fund Services also invested in technology last year, developing customisable reporting dashboards that help fund services clients look at fund performance, risk and market data, among other things.

The firm introduced iPhone and iPad apps, and is among the offshore firms to feature on Twitter.

Maples continues to focus its international growth in its newest locations. For its Singapore office, which opened in late 2012, 2013 was the first full year of operation. Maples has two partners there practising British Virgin Islands (BVI) and Cayman Islands law. Meanwhile, the growth of the firm’s Dublin office was reflected in the establishment of an Irish desk in Cayman, where four funds lawyers provide Irish law advice to primarily US clients. Maples also hired barrister John Breslin SC
to head up its Dublin advocacy group, and now employs 82 lawyers in Ireland.

The firm continues to pick up instructions on some of the offshore world’s biggest deals, including Kohlberg Kravis Roberts’ (KKR) July 2013 launch of the biggest pan-Asian private equity fund ever. With a final closing of $6bn (£3.7bn), the KKR Asian Fund II will invest in local industries that take advantage of a rise in domestic consumption in the region. Maples advised KKR on Cayman law over the formation and launch of the fund.

2 Appleby

Group chairman: Frances Woo

Managing partner: Michael O’Connell


Staff: 528

Fee-earners: 242

Qualified lawyers: 196

Partners: 68

Equity partners: ND

Female partners: 16

Female equity partners: ND


Staff: 255

Fee-earners: 213

Key clients 

Blackstone, Royal Dutch Shell, Standard Chartered

Appleby saw a drop in numbers last year, with a net loss of 15 lawyers including 7 partners. Partners quit for firms including Mourant Ozannes and Withers, and natural attrition was also blamed.

Nevertheless, the firm is still one of the largest offshore players and, with a presence in jurisdictions such as the Seychelles and Switzerland, has one of the widest global offerings. Bermuda remains the firm’s largest office, with 136 staff in total including 17 partners, but the Cayman, Jersey and Isle of Man offices are all sizeable, fielding about 30 lawyers each.

Significant hires last year included Conyers Dill & Pearman’s knowledge management head Barbara Padega to the new role of global knowledge management director. This coincided with the redevelopment of Appleby’s internal knowledge management platform. Using ‘wiki’ technology the platform is designed to allow
a more collaborative approach to knowledge-sharing. Better interaction with clients is another focus, through the use of client portals.

Appleby has also undertaken a review of its work processes, resulting in the formation of sector-facing teams to mirror the way onshore firms work. Client teams led by relationship partners have been formed, so referring firms have a single point of contact. The firm has also continued interviewing clients to get feedback to improve service delivery.

Other areas of investment last year included Appleby’s client relationship management system and the creation of a common fiduciary management platform.

Appleby also intends to grow its fiduciary offering – in contrast with other offshore firms which are reducing their reliance on this area – as well as expanding in Asia, particularly China. The firm is not ruling out further new offices.

Mourant Ozannes

Managing partner: Jonathan Rigby


Staff: 455

Fee-earners: 234

Qualified lawyers: 177

Partners: 51

Equity partners: 51

Female partners: 7

Female equity partners: 7 


Staff: 14

Fee-earners: 14

Key clients 

Acromas, Ardian (formerly AXA Private Equity), BlueBay Asset Management

Mourant Ozannes consolidated its position as the third-largest offshore firm this year with the addition of two lawyers, although partner numbers dropped by two. The firm says revenue rose by 2 per cent between 2012 and 2013, and average turnover growth since the 2010 merger between Mourant du Feu & Jeune and Ozannes was 5 per cent.

In October last year partners agreed a business strategy to take Mourant Ozannes through to 2020. A pillar of this strategy is to have teams focusing on delivering the best possible client experience. Lawyer Caroline Spottiswoode was appointed head of client and intermediary relations to support this, with a mandate to identify ways to add value to relationships.

Mourant Ozannes also appointed CMS Cameron McKenna operations director Keith Pearse
to the same role in Jersey. Pearse, who arrived in June, has been focusing on efficiency and costs. The firm also hired external consultants to look at the way it managed working capital, resulting in a 16 per cent reduction in lock-up.

The firm has also been investing in technology. It invested in a server, storage and PCs across all its offices, as well as upgrading software packages and enhancing its contact manager system. There is now more automation built in, and internal intelligence reports to support business development were also introduced.

In the next few years Mourant Ozannes will focus on consolidation. While the firm is content with its geographical footprint, it is seeing more work coming through from developing jurisdictions – particularly Asia, Latin America and Africa.


4 Ogier

Group CEO: Nick Kershaw

Legal CEO: James Bergstrom


Staff: 504

Fee-earners: 184

Qualified lawyers: 172

Partners: 42

Equity partners: 31

Female partners: 7

Female equity partners: ND


Fee-earners: 303

Key clients

Centamin, Circle Holdings, HSBC


Although there was a slight fall in the number of lawyers and fee-earners employed by Channel Islands-headquartered Ogier last year – with the firm reporting four fewer lawyers in 2013 than in 2012 – it added three partners, including one in its equity. This led to a reduction in the firm’s leverage from 4.8 lawyers per equity partner to 4.5.

Strategically, Ogier sent the two lawyers it had based in London back to Jersey, including global corporate head Simon Dinning. Lawyers are now flying in and out of London as needed. Ogier argued that London is close enough to its HQ in Jersey, where almost half of its lawyers are based, that it does not need anyone there permanently.

The decision was followed in early 2014 by a much bigger strategic move, when the firm divested its fiduciary business in a management buyout by Ogier Fiduciary Services’ (OFS) partners, with an enterprise value of £180m. The sale saw private equity company Electra Partners invest £83m into OFS. While the law firm and OFS will share premises and, for a period, branding, effectively the move means Ogier – like Walkers before it – is now focusing wholly on law.

The divestment has naturally taken up much of the firm’s time in recent months, but the scene is now set for future investment. Group CEO Nick Kershaw is taking the role of global managing partner and regional managing partner for Europe, while legal CEO James Bergstrom becomes regional managing partner for Asia and the Caribbean. The rest of the management structure is now focused more on sector than practice area lines.

The coming year will see Ogier focus on service delivery, with plans to create a new IT system – effectively starting from scratch, according to Kershaw. In the future Ogier is likely to add to its partner count, to bring that high leverage and partner-to-associate ratio closer to the sector average.

5 Walkers

Managing partner: Ingrid Pierce


Staff: 376

Fee-earners: 174

Qualified lawyers: 156

Partners: 55

Equity partners: ND

Female partners: 18

Female equity partners: ND

Key clients

Apollo, Blackstone,
CVC Capital

After a year with no real headcount change in 2012, Walkers saw renewed growth in 2013. The firm said revenue had “outstripped the previous year due to increased activity globally and the diversification of our revenue sources, offices and practices”. The firm has a notable presence in Asia, with more lawyers based there than any other offshore firm. It also stands out among big offshore firms by having a female partnership proportion of almost a third.

After the divestment in 2012 of the management services business, the focus was on consolidation as a standalone law firm. In early 2013 Walkers moved into its new Cayman HQ, investing in new IT infrastructure in the process.

Walkers’ servers are 100 per cent virtualised. The firm is introducing a cloud-based platform that will enable lawyers to share documents with clients quickly and securely. The next stage of investment will be the introduction of process automation for “common business tasks”, which also addresses the growing use of mobile devices.

This year Walkers wants to continue the growth of its Dublin office as well as looking at countries such as Russia, the CIS, and emerging markets in Indonesia and Mongolia. When it comes to practice areas, insolvency and corporate recovery is the focus, with further hires in the pipeline following last year’s recruitment of Singapore senior counsel Robert Foote from Ogier.

6 Conyers Dill & Pearman

Co-chairs: Narinder Hargun, David Lamb


Staff: 358

Fee-earners: 129

Qualified lawyers: 128

Partners: 49

Equity partners: ND

Female partners: 12

Female equity partners: ND


Staff: 182

Fee-earners: 27

Key clients

Aircastle, Weatherfield, Yahoo

Conyers Dill & Pearman had a net loss of 10 lawyers last year, dropping from 138 to 128. The firm closed two offices during the year. Moscow was the victim of a drop-off in Cypriot work as a result of the financial crisis, while two lawyers in São Paulo were relocated to other offices. Lawyer Gabriela Romano remains in Brazil.

Bermuda, where Conyers was founded, is the largest office by some distance, with nearly half of its partners and 40 per cent of its lawyers. Hong Kong and Singapore together account for another 20 per cent of the firm’s lawyers and 10 partners, indicating the importance of Asia for the firm.

Indeed, a significant number of Conyers’ deals are now for Chinese clients, although Bermuda law remains a key part of the firm’s advice. Last year this saw Conyers advise Mohammed al-Fayed on the sale of Fulham FC, for example. 

Other highlights of the year included the firm’s work for the AAR Consortium on the mammoth $55bn sale of its 50 per cent stake in the TNK-BP Group to Rosneft.

Conyers upgraded its client relationship management system last year, increasing the automation of updating contacts and identifying new contacts. The firm is also in the process of developing a proprietary system that will standardise the process
of incorporating companies across the jurisdictions in which it operates, with the aim of promoting online collaboration.

7 Carey Olsen

Chairman: John Kelleher


Staff: 304

Fee-earners: 190

Qualified lawyers: 156

Partners: 43

Equity partners: ND

Female partners: 3

Female equity partners: ND

Key clients

British Land, Nordic Capital, William Hill

Carey Olsen gained a net three partners last year, through four lateral hires and two internal promotions. Greg Boyd and Clinton Hempel, the name partners of BVI firm Hempel & Boyd, joined the firm in January 2013 and rebranded as Carey Olsen in October. The move also brought Carey Olsen a presence in South Africa, with both partners and their senior associate Alan Hughes splitting their time between the BVI and Cape Town.

Meanwhile, Ogier managing associate Michael Makridakis was hired as partner and head of Cayman litigation in September, and King & Wood Mallesons SJ Berwin senior associate Emma Russell became a partner in the firm’s funds group in London. Makridakis’s hire was part of the firm’s push to extend its Cayman presence, following its 2012 launch there. Carey Olsen now has 11 lawyers based in Cayman – still one of the smaller players on the island but catching up.

The growth was also reflected in its financials: the firm reported turnover growth of 5.5 per cent.

Carey Olsen made slightly less investment than some of its peers in technology last year, although it did upgrade its anti-money launderings systems and implemented new management information systems.

Growth is likely to be in a similar vein to that of the past, with organic expansion planned.

8 Harneys

Chairman: Peter Tarn


Staff: 240

Fee-earners: 122

Qualified lawyers: 98

Partners: 31

Equity partners: ND

Female partners: 9

Female equity partners: ND


Staff: 59

Fee-earners: 38

Key clients

BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse, Gresham Investment Mgt 

While the rapid headcount growth at Harneys over the past couple of years slowed somewhat last year – with a net gain of just one lawyer between 2012 and 2013 – the past 12 months nevertheless saw a number of strategic moves as the firm looked to strengthen its global presence.

In February Harneys established an association with Mauritius firm BLC Chambers, giving it a presence in the offshore jurisdiction which has the closest links to Africa. In May, the firm hired a duo of funds lawyers from Ogier to grow in Cayman, and in July BVI litigation partner Philip Kite moved to London to launch a BVI litigation practice.


The BVI is still Harneys’ biggest jurisdiction by headcount, followed by Cyprus. However, with six partners in London the firm has one of the largest offshore presences in the UK.

Harneys also invested in a firmwide upgrade of its document management and billing systems, as well as a new client relationship management system.

The firm is already a sizeable presence in Asia, with 20 lawyers in Hong Kong, but the Asian offering is set to continue expanding.

9 Hassans

Managing partner: Javier Chincotta


Staff: 250

Fee-earners: 80

Qualified lawyers: 80

Partners: 36

Equity partners: 27

Female partners: 7

Female equity partners: 4


Staff: 70

Fee-earners: 45

Key clients, Credit Suisse, Government of Gibraltar

Gibraltar’s Hassans reported revenue growth of 6 per cent last year, although headcount was unchanged. The firm made up five partners in July to bring its partner headcount to 36, which includes two Gibraltar government ministers.

One focus last year was a review of client service. Back-office support was improved to help fee-earners prioritise service delivery. Hassans also implemented a new client communications tool and its investment in technology focuses on systems that enable better client communication.

Hassans is one of the larger offshore firms to provide a breakdown of its equity structure. Its partnership is now 75 per cent all-equity, with nine non-equity partners, three of which are female. It still has a leverage ratio of 1:2.

10 Bedell Cristin

Managing partner: Richard Gerwat


Staff: 157

Fee-earners: 85

Qualified lawyers: 76

Partners: 31

Equity partners: 19

Female partners: 4

Female equity partners: 0


Staff: 157

Fee-earners: 107

Key clients

Aviva, RBS Group, Santander

Jersey-headquartered Bedell Cristin had another good year, reporting financial growth of 5 per cent – on top of a 5 per cent increase between 2012 and 2013 – and also adding to its headcount.

The firm made a lateral hire in Jersey in 2013, picking up Ogier partner Peter Bertram to boost its commercial property team.

Last year was a significant year of investment for Bedell Cristin, with funds being poured into operational systems. The firm kicked off an upgrade programme for its core systems, including document and practice management and desktop software. Over 75 per cent of systems are now running virtually, giving the firm more security as well as cutting energy costs.

Bedell also invested in a bespoke system to streamline the process of taking on new business. Separately, clients are now offered access to a secure site that allows the sharing of documents with their lawyers. The firm also developed its own system bringing together information and content into a single source, making everything more streamlined for fee-earners.

While Jersey remains by far Bedell’s biggest office, with 120 of the firm’s 157 legal staff based there, the firm is becoming ever-more international. It leads service delivery on a jurisdictional basis, but business lines between locations co-ordinate closely and the firm is increasing investment in cross-border service expertise.

Further investment overseas is planned for the next five years and the firm will focus on business development. Managing partner Richard Gerwat says this will primarily see Bedell Cristin use its presence in jurisdictions such as Singapore and Mauritius to access new markets, particularly developing countries in Africa and Asia.

Meanwhile the Bedell group is moving to separate its back-office functions for the law firm and its fiduciary, the Bedell Trust. While there are no plans to sell the fiduciary, there are now fewer people providing support functions for both businesses, enabling each to expand as it needs.

11 Collas Crill

Managing partner: Jason Romer


Staff: 154

Fee-earners: 80

Qualified lawyers: 57

Partners: 32

Equity partners: 13

Female partners: 4

Female equity partners: 3


Staff: 14

Fee-earners: 8

Key clients 

Investec, Northern Trust, RBS International

In its third year since its cross-island merger, Collas Crill continued to expand on both financial and headcount metrics. The firm reported a turnover rise in double digits, and added four lawyers – with a gain of three in its partnership from internal promotions at the end of 2012. A further three partners were made up at the end of last year.

Collas Crill joined a number of its rivals in London last year, relocating consultant Edward Stone and senior associate Susan O’Leary to the City in December. Stone was promoted to the position of group partner. The aim of the launch was to strengthen relationships with clients and increase the amount of work coming from non-traditional markets into the Channel Islands. Its other office outside the Channel Islands is Singapore.

The firm deployed a new business management system at the end of 2013, choosing one designed to provide multi-jurisdictional capabilities. This fits with Collas Crill’s ‘jurisdiction-blind’ strategy and single profit pool.

12 Forbes Hare

Managing partner: William Hare


Staff: 46

Fee-earners: 36

Qualified lawyers: 31

Partners: 10

Equity partners: ND

Female partners: 1

Female equity partners: ND


Staff: 10

Fee-earners: 10

Key clients

Bank of Moscow, liquidators of the Fairfield Sentry and Mount Capital investment funds, Tangerine Investment Management

With the addition of two partners and six lawyers, BVI firm Forbes Hare is climbing the headcount rankings steadily. Its London office has now been in operation for a full year, and in a particularly innovative move the firm launched a BVI contentious advisory practice in the City last year. The firm hired former barrister Alistair Abbott from legacy SNR Denton for the venture. This saw Abbott admitted to the BVI bar.

The London office now has two partners and another three lawyers, making it almost as big as Forbes Hare’s Cayman practice. All private client work is now managed purely from Cayman.

Like many other firms, Forbes Hare has invested in technology. It implemented a new CRM system last year and is now implementing new trust administration software.

13 Triay & Triay

Senior partner: Melo Triay


Staff: 64

Fee-earners: 30

Qualified lawyers: 30

Partners: 12

Equity partners: 10

Female partners: 0

Female equity partners: 0


Staff: 75

Fee-earners: 30

Key clients

Anglo Hispano Company, Barclays Bank, Victor Chandler International


While the partner headcount at Triay & Triay has not changed year-on-year the firm has added five lawyers to its roster. Nevertheless, stability remains the standout characteristic of the Gibraltar stalwart.

In the past year the firm has revised its standard retainer terms in response to client demand for efficiency, and is undertaking service reviews too. However, Triay & Triay was not among the firms investing in IT last year, and has no plans to expand beyond its Gibraltar base. 

14 Cains

Managing director: Andrew Corlett


Staff: 53

Fee-earners: 24

Qualified lawyers: 24

Partners: 16

Equity partners: ND

Female partners: 1

Female equity partners: ND


Staff: 28

Key clients 

Barclays Bank, Eros International, LinkedIn

Isle of Man

Isle of Man firm Cains beat its targets last year, with turnover up 7 per cent on budget and profitability rising by 4 per cent year-on-year. The firm has a 30 June year-end. Managing director Andrew Corlett adds that Cains is carrying no debt.

The principal development last year for Cains was a restructure. The firm formed a new holding company, which sits atop three operational subsidiaries – legal, fiduciary and accounting. Under a group structure the three lines have their own management.

Corlett says the restructure was designed to increase the symbiosis between the three businesses but do away with the structure whereby the law firm owned the fiduciary business. He adds that the more corporate structure should enable the three to work together more easily.

The firm invested in a document management system that provides better storage, search capabilities and scope for using mobile technology. Cains also upgraded its network infrastructure.

Work through the year included advising Eros International on its delisting from AIM and IPO on the New York stock exchange. Eros, an Indian media company, was the first Manx-incorporated company to list in New York.

15 Travers Thorp Alberga

Managing partner: Michael Alberga

Senior partner: Anthony Travers


Staff: 39

Fee-earners: 25

Qualified lawyers: 23

Partners: 11

Equity partners: 11

Female partners: 4

Female equity partners: 4

Key clients 

Deutsche Bank, Green Dragon Gas, PAG

Cayman firm Travers Thorp Alberga (TTA) reported a “stellar” year, with revenues up by 25 per cent. Qualified lawyer headcount soared to 23 from 15 the previous year. The firm now has 11 partners plus two consultants and an of counsel who are essentially partner-level.

The firm continued its expansion with the December 2013 announcement of a merger with Cayman litigation boutique Paget-Brown. Its founder, Ian Paget-Brown QC, became of counsel at TTA.

TTA believes the niche boutique model is the future for offshore.
It says it has not had to make any new IT investment as it launched with all its infrastructure based on cloud computing, thus minimising administrative costs.

The firm has two offices, in Cayman and Hong Kong, with the latter gaining another partner last year to bring the number of partners in Asia to four.

TTA is not planning any major strategic changes in 2014, preferring to consolidate. Further partner laterals are possible, as are more mergers “where the culture fits and cost savings can result”.

The launch of a fiduciary business is not in the offing as TTA aims to avoid conflicts between lawyers and fiduciary advisers.

16 Isolas

Senior partner: Peter Isola


Staff: 50

Fee-earners: 23

Qualified lawyers: 23

Partners: 8

Equity partners: 2

Female partners: 1

Female equity partners: 0

There was a slight dip in headcount at Gibraltar firm Isolas last year, with the number of qualified lawyers dropping from 26 to 23. Partner numbers remained static, although Albert Isola moved from practising to government in July after winning a by-election. Isola was appointed as minister for financial services and gaming, taking these portfolios from former Hassans partner Gilbert Licudi QC, also a government minister.

With just two equity partners out of its eight partners, Isolas has the highest leverage ratio in the Top 30 out of those firms that disclose their equity numbers, at 1:10.5. Its partner-to-associate ratio of 1:1.9 is, in contrast, more average.

Funds and gaming remain key areas for Isolas, with Gibraltar having transposed the EU’s alternative investment fund managers directive last year.

17 Babbé

Managing partner: Andrew Laws


Staff: 45

Fee-earners: 29

Qualified lawyers: 23

Partners: 7

Equity partners: 7

Female partners: 0

Female equity partners: 0

Guernsey’s Babbé was steady ahead in 2013, with a net gain in its headcount of one lawyer but a net loss of one partner. All partners are still male.

Hires during the year included trusts associate Nina Gurney from a role at a trusts company in Jersey, and several litigators.

On the deals front, work included advising the management of pri