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  • Writer's pictureScott Harrison

Elevate Your Legal Career: 5 Reasons to Move to an Offshore Firm



Driven by the growth of offshore firms in the Hong Kong market and the wider career benefits offered, we’ve observed a marked uptick in the number of lawyers expressing interest in moving to the offshore space. Lawyers from top-tier US and UK law firms are now embarking on this offshore track, as these firms competitively position themselves to attract and retain talent.


To transition to an offshore firm, lawyers are generally required to be admitted in a Commonwealth jurisdiction. E&W qualified lawyers can cross-qualify almost immediately to practice BVI or Cayman law.


However, due to the limited pool of qualified candidates with E&W qualifications and fluent Mandarin skills, offshore firms may consider bringing on qualified lawyers from other jurisdictions. Non-Commonwealth qualified associates have the opportunity to join as "Legal Managers," with the potential to later cross-qualify as England & Wales qualified Associates.


But why should you move to an offshore firm and what benefits can it bring? Let’s delve into how moving offshore can elevate your legal career. 


The 5 Unmatched Benefits of Transitioning Offshore


The heightened sophistication of offshore deals entices lawyers seeking a new direction. Unlike traditional onshore firms, offshore platforms offer a full spectrum of services to their clients, including finance, corporate, investment funds, and litigation in their core jurisdictions. Here are the specific benefits that make offshore practice alluring to lawyers: 


1. Quality of work


Many lawyers believe leaving an onshore firm means compromising on the high quality of work, but this is not in line with what we have seen. On the contrary, lawyers find the work at offshore firms equally technically stimulating. The quality of work and the pedigree of lawyers within offshore teams is generally exceptional, with many coming from a Magic Circle or international law firm background.


2. A new challenge / broadening practice area


Moving offshore introduces lawyers to a diverse work scope in a different environment. Unlike international firms with siloed practice areas, offshore firms allow lawyers to handle a hybrid of corporate, finance, and funds work. This presents a great opportunity for lawyers to build up their existing experience while exploring different law areas, with ample support and guidance, cultivating stronger lawyers throughout the process.


We've successfully placed lawyers in offshore firms as "retool hires", where they transition to a different practice area from their previous firm. Many funds roles at offshore firms have been filled by corporate or finance lawyers seeking a new direction. Offshore firms are committed to providing the training and support needed for lawyers to make this ambitious transition.


3. Autonomy


Offshore firms usually have smaller teams, enabling lawyers to take on responsibility early on. Unlike onshore firms where partners exclusively manage client interactions, here junior lawyers often engage with clients directly. This fosters autonomy and provides a significant developmental advantage.


4. Pay


We’ve observed that offshore firms adopt a commercial approach to salary, veering away from the traditional salary lockstep dictated by PQE level. Instead, they lean towards a meritocratic salary approach. Offshore offers usually match Magic Circle salary levels, including sign-on bonuses, to attract highly coveted candidates.


5. Work Culture


While any legal position in Hong Kong is demanding, many offshore firms foster a more collegial and friendly work environment. Though hard work is undoubtedly expected, working hours are often more predictable with achievable targets within a normal working day.


Career Prospects after Moving Offshore


Whether you’re in corporate, finance, investment funds, or litigation, a role with an offshore law firm will undoubtedly enrich your CV. The high-level experience garnered offshore, as highlighted above, can yield long-term benefits; be it paving the way to partnership or unlocking opportunities back onshore or in-house. 


We are well-positioned to facilitate such career transitions. If you're contemplating a move to an offshore firm, we invite you to reach out to us. Our seasoned team is ready to provide tailored advice and support to help navigate your career towards exciting offshore opportunities. 


Email us for a confidential chat today at [scottharrison@aquissearch.com]


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