At this time of year – when Brexit bores, the dark nights close-in and the Met Office issues yet another cold weather warning – a move offshore towards the heat and sunshine of the Caribbean seems like a ‘no-brainer.’ Why wouldn’t you leave the UK and head for the sun!?
But there’s far more to offshore living than the weather; and that’s particularly true in Bermuda. Here are a few reasons to make the move and take your legal career offshore, espoused by those who have done it…
“Quality without the compromise”
Bermuda has a history of attracting some of the best legal talent – a fact illustrated by the number of individuals recognised in the leading global legal directories.
Those individuals we have placed into law firms in Bermuda wax lyrical about the quality and diversity of work on offer. Whether it’s working on the $2.6 billion acquisition of the Bermuda-based insurer Aspen Insurance, advising one of the world’s largest offshore drilling companies on its multi-billion-dollar restructuring, or working across from London ‘super-silks’ on applications in the Supreme Court of Bermuda or the highest appellant court (the Privy Council) – you won’t compromise on quality of work by making the move to this tropical shore.
That quality of work perhaps comes as no surprise given that Bermuda is often cited as the world’s leading insurance/reinsurance centre and major finance centre. It attracts the headquarters of huge global brands (a third of the world's top 40 international insurers and reinsurers are based in Bermuda) as well as the offshore operations of leading international businesses, each in need of quality legal advice.
Well known offshore law firms have historic presences on Bermuda’s Main Island, each with a depth of local and global experience. This includes Bermuda headquartered firms like Appleby and Conyers Dill Pearman. But equally, other large firms are seeing opportunities in Bermuda and making the move to the buoyant legal market, such as the recent successful launch of Carey Olsen.
Following the Paradise Papers’ leak in 2017, a number of lawyers we spoke to had major concerns about the future of the offshore legal market. Yet despite those concerns, over the last 2 years we have seen a steady growth in demand for Solicitors and Barristers in Bermuda. Those with experience or an interest in Re/Insurance and Finance are always well received, as well as candidates with experience in core areas like Commercial, Corporate, Litigation, Insolvency, Private Client and/or Trusts.
Most recently, we’ve seen an uptick in demand for FinTech and Funds practitioners. Work in those areas is growing following legislative introductions around the regulation of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology (references to the “Silicon Triangle” soon to become common parlance perhaps), and the Bermuda Monetary Authority’s green light on investment vehicles interested in taking advantage of the legal cannabis sector.
This steady growth is certainly calming for those concerned about the future for offshore firms.
“Swizzle me timbers”
Whether you spend your evenings and weekends on the pink sands of one of Bermuda’s many beaches; cliff jumping at Admiralty House Park (climbing up through caves said to have been used hundreds of years ago by pirates smuggling goods into Bermuda); sailing across the azure waters which surround the region; golfing on one of the Bermuda’s 9 world-class courses; or supping on one of Bermuda’s famous cocktails (a Dark ‘n’ Stormy or Rum Swizzle) in the Capital Hamilton or in an island bar (one of the Swizzle Inns being a personal favourite – where one “Swizzles Inn and Swaggers Out”), Bermuda really does offer a quality of life incomparable to the City.
The office is also guaranteed to be a short commute from wherever you’re based on the Main Island. If it isn’t within walking distance, scooters are a popular choice of travel for many. The US and UK are also relatively short trips away: it takes 1.5 hours to get to NYC, and 6.5 hours to get to London. So it’s easy to see why Bermuda continues to be a supremely popular offshore destination.
“Home away from home”
Although the business attire may take a while to get used to (for many, colourful Bermuda shorts with long socks), being Britain’s oldest overseas territory, Bermuda has a real familiarity to it.
From the huge painting of the Queen at the airport’s arrivals desk, to the identical road markings and signage – as soon as you arrive you get a sense of connection to home. Something which also rings true with the legal system. Bermuda’s is heavily influenced by the common law of England & Wales, and one which E&W qualified lawyers (as well as Canadian, Australian and New Zealand lawyers) find relatively comfortable to transition to in light of the parallels.
“Pay and Tax”
And, of course, there are the salaries on offer for those that relocate.
Although the cost of living is relatively high (most food stuffs, for example, are imported) direct taxes are incredibly low and at times non-existent. In fact, there is no income tax, no VAT and no sales tax. Couple that with salaries comparable to, and often higher than, the top London City firms and the move can be very lucrative indeed.
Finally, a thought from Mark Twain (who made numerous visits to Bermuda during his lifetime, a place he referred to as “that little paradise”): “You go to heaven if you want to, I’d rather stay right here in Bermuda”.
So if you intend to make a move, or are just considering your options, Bermuda is well worth exploring. If you’d like a confidential discussion about the offshore market and how it could fit with your particular experience, then please do feel free to get in touch - I’d be happy to arrange a conversation.