I was recently asked about key recruitment trends in the offshore legal sector and my thoughts immediately turned to legislative matters in the Cayman Islands and British Virgin Islands.

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn.

January 19, 2017

I was recently asked about key recruitment trends in the offshore legal sector and my thoughts immediately turned to legislative matters in the Cayman Islands and British Virgin Islands.

Let’s start with the Legal Practitioners Bill (‘LPB’) in the Cayman Islands. Residency will no longer be a requirement to be admitted to the Cayman Bar as long as you can prove that you’re working for an affiliate of a qualifying Cayman law firm. This will clearly impact firms’ hiring policies.

One key factor that is going to affect those looking to move will be the change in the minimum PQE requirements, which will increase from three to four years in 2019. The bill also includes a ratio on the number of lawyers practising inside the Caymans vs. lawyers based abroad (1:1 being the desired outcome) which will potentially have a dramatic effect on some firms with large Asia offerings.

The point to note is that the provisions of the Bill could still change once they’ve gone before the legislature so nothing is set in stone as yet.

The British Virgin Islands passed its Legal Professional Act (‘LPA’) in 2015 and although there have been some hiccups along the way, with the act being suspended for one, once fully introduced it will certainly have a profound effect on the market.  

The changes include rules on admission to practise in the BVI and who can be admitted. In similar vein to the Caymans, but new for the BVI, PQE experience will be required, starting at three and rising to five years as of 2019. The number of lawyers who can practise outside BVI will also be limited by the imposition of a ratio but we are yet to understand what that will be.

So, the ‘LPB’ and ‘LPA’ will shake up the offshore legal sector in the Cayman and BVI respectively. The broad consensus is that the changes are an impediment to the free movement of legal talent albeit safeguarding the quality of global legal expertise provided vis-à-vis the two territories.  

If you have any questions, do get in touch. I’d love to hear your thoughts.