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Overview of the offshore legal recruitment market

Posted by: Laurence Simons 19/04/13

Overview of the Private Practice Offshore market

Whilst other markets continued to struggle, there was a real resurgence in the various offshore markets in 2012. The Cayman Islands and BVI saw a wave of activity throughout the year, particularly in relation to team moves amongst the various firms already on the islands.

The Channel Islands were especially busy, with recruitment across a range of practice areas including funds, general finance and commercial disputes. Perhaps more interestingly for some, 2012 was the year for offshore firms to open in “new” low-tax jurisdictions such as Mauritius and Luxembourg.

Salaries in the offshore markets generally reflect mid-city London rates and sometimes are slightly higher, depending on the location, practice area and background of the lawyer in question. The major benefit is of course the low rates of personal income tax, ranging from 0% in the Cayman Islands to 20% in the Channel Islands. However, the vast majority of lawyers who move to these jurisdictions still do so for a better quality of life, whilst being able to work on high-quality international transactions or cases.

The Cayman Islands still lead the way in respect of merit-based bonus systems, with associates at some firms able to keep attractive amounts of their own personal billings above certain levels. Most of the other offshore jurisdictions still tend to work on the more standard discretionary bonus system, ranging from around 0 to 30% of the annual base salary.

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