Introduction

“How much will I earn?” A review of offshore legal salaries

“How much will I earn?” A review of offshore legal salaries

“How much will I earn?” A review of offshore legal salaries

When discussing the possibility of an offshore move, one of the first questions we are usually asked is “How much are they paying?”

And quite rightly so, there’s a lot to think about when making any career move, particularly when it involves an international relocation.  On both a professional and personal level, it has to be worth the time invested and considerable upheaval involved.  The draw factors vary for each individual but when it comes down to it, money is often one of the drivers.

The answer is rarely simple as there is a huge variation in salaries between jurisdictions and individual firms.  Demand for specific skills from the market also means that some practice areas pay a premium over others.  But even for a well-paid City lawyer, a move offshore could see you maximising your earning potential.  For example, at 4 years’ PQE with a leading firm in the Cayman Islands, you could be taking home the equivalent to a salary of over £200,000 in the UK.  There are very few lawyers in the onshore market who could command that sort of money so early in their legal careers.

It’s not just the Caribbean that offers lawyers the opportunity to fast track their earnings.  Offshore firms in the Channel Islands recruit from NQ level upwards and the typical NQ salary is currently around £69,500, well above the average across most of the UK market.

But which other factors should you take into consideration?

  • Tax (or lack of!)

With the high salaries on offer from offshore law firms and low, or zero, income tax, it’s easy to see what attracts a lot of lawyers offshore.  In the Cayman Islands you can expect to receive the highest salaries on offer in the offshore market and pay no income tax at all.  In Bermuda payroll tax is just 4.75%, in the BVI it’s 8% and in the Channel Islands a maximum of 20%.

To give you an example of how this equates:

At 3 years’ PQE in the Cayman Islands you can expect to be earning c. USD $150,000 base salary.  A standard taxpayer would need to be on a gross salary of around £188,000 to match this, net, in the UK.

Similarly, if you were earning £100,000 in London, an average taxpayer will take home £66,693.  Someone on the same salary in Guernsey would net £75,635.  This all means that a newly qualified lawyer on a starting salary of £69,500 in the Channel Islands would have a net income to match a lawyer in the UK on c.£77,000.

  • Benefits, relocation and bonus package

Bonuses are paid based on performance but there is a more reasonable approach to billable hours than you will be used to at many onshore law firms.  Targets are generally lower than at top city firms (one or two don’t use targets at all) and offshore lawyers can generally expect very achievable bonuses of up to 20% of salary.

If you are relocating to take a job with an offshore firm you will receive a good relocation allowance.  Obviously, the value of this varies between firms and jurisdictions, but you can expect it to cover the cost of your flights, shipping, temporary accommodation and car hire on arrival.  Some firms pay this as a lump sum in your first month’s wages for you to use as you see fit and others will pay it as expenses.

All offer some form of benefits packages similar to those at a good onshore firm.

  • Cost of living

There is no hiding the fact that the cost of living in some offshore jurisdictions is high, but it is largely comparable to living in other major international financial centres such as London.  When you weigh this up against the numerous benefits that island life has to offer; better work life balance, short commute to work, outdoor lifestyle and idyllic setting, I know where I’d rather be!

In the Caribbean for instance, the expensive rental costs are reflected in the high standard of attractive properties available.  Renting a beachside apartment would come at a premium, but if you are happy to compromise on beach frontage and choose a modern apartment block, it is affordable.  Factor in the lack of any income tax, and very few people find this to be anything other than a lucrative move financially.

Whilst Channel Islands salaries don’t quite reach the heights of the Caribbean, neither does the cost of living which is similar to the South-East of England. Add in all the benefits of island life whilst still being only a short flight away from the UK, and for many you have the perfect middle ground between career potential, earning capability, and lifestyle.

All in all, for most lawyers moving offshore, the answer to the question, “how much?” is “more than enough!”

And for those who really mean it when they say “it isn’t about the money” there are numerous other benefits in moving to an offshore law firm.  The smaller teams and collegiate working environments mean you are likely to experience much greater involvement, increased Partner contact, and more client facing responsibilities, far earlier on in your career. You can expect to work hard but the short commute and island lifestyle means you will have plenty of time to enjoy spending your increased salary!

 

Charlotte Hooper

About The Author | Charlotte Hooper

Charlotte works alongside Jason Horobin in the International Division of Origin Legal, specialising in the placement of qualified lawyers into the global offices of International and Offshore law firms.

[email protected]

Why you should consider practicing Planning & Environment Law in the UK. 

By Stuart Phillips | February 5, 2024 | 0 Comments
Why you should consider practicing Planning & Environment Law in the UK.  I began recruiting Planning & Environment Lawyers in 2002.  I didn’t take long to realise that they are nice people who were enthusiastic about the work that they…

Secret Santa Colchester Foodbank Donation

By Taylor Day | December 19, 2023 | 0 Comments
Secret Santa Colchester Foodbank Donation For Christmas this year, our team embraced the spirit of giving, rather than participating in the traditional Secret Santa exchange, we collectively chose to contribute to our local food bank, which plays a crucial role…

Origin Legals interview with Bexley Beaumont

By Jason Nottage | October 31, 2023 | 0 Comments
Origin Legal Interviews Bexley Beaumont On a recent revisit to Birmingham Jason Nottage got the chance to sit down again with Karen Bexley and Anna Beaumont to discuss the latest happenings at Bexley Beaumont and what life looks like for…

The Rest is Politics

By Stuart Phillips | October 17, 2023 | 0 Comments
The rest is politics Although the title of a popular podcast, it also sums up what is happening in the Planning market right now.  Below I consider what impact this might have on recruitment for lawyers in the next 12…

Why you should use a legal recruiter for your next career move.

By Taylor Day | September 26, 2023 | 0 Comments
Why you should use a legal recruiter for your next career move. Are you a solicitor contemplating your next career move? Whether you’re an experienced Partner looking for new challenges or a trainee approaching legal qualification, embarking on your legal…

0 comments on ““How much will I earn?” A review of offshore legal salaries

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *