With taxes on the mainland showing no sign of falling any time soon and little real shift in the work-life balance at your average City law firm, it is hardly surprising that so many lawyers are tempted to look offshore. Jersey offers a mix of international calibre work, a commute measured in minutes not hours and the chance to dramatically reduce your tax bill, but is it for you?
- Are my skills in demand? Generalising, good associates with experience in any aspect of corporate, banking, finance, funds, trusts, insolvency or litigation are sought after. Experience of at least a year or two in a good commercial firm (not necessarily City) is usually required but NQ jobs do come up.
- Too much tranquillity? At 45m2 and with a population of 90,000, Jersey is a world apart from any mainland city. If your social life revolves around the great outdoors and you enjoy sports and coastal living, perfect, but if art galleries or opera are your passion, remember this is not London.
- Accessibility – Jersey is the most accessible offshore market for UK lawyers, being less than an hour from London and with flights direct to cities across the country. You don’t get a Caribbean climate but you can nip home for a weekend without too much trouble.
- Professionally challenging – Jersey law is based on, but separate from, English law. You will pick it up soon enough but be prepared for a learning curve taking in both the technical and cultural nuances of practicing in a new jurisdiction.
- Different demands – Advising on Jersey specifics you will find that the part you play in any one matter is reduced whilst the volume of matters you’re involved in rises. Great for avoiding the heavy documents that keep you up all night but be prepared to step back from the spotlight.
- Different rewards - Whilst sacrificing control of cross-border matters you will work frequently with onshore law firms and financial institutions who instruct you personally, enabling you not only to build your personal contacts but also to develop your client facing skills and expertise.
- Re-qualification – Don’t worry about this now – you need to practice on the island for two years before you can sit the exams at which point the firms will provide all of the support required. Litigators should note that you are not able to stand in court in Jersey until locally qualified.
- Career dead end? No. Good offshore firms are recognised globally and will be viewed positively by most onshore firms should you decide to return. Equally, many offshore firms now have multiple offices around the world and advancement to Partnership is a realistic prospect.
- Do I need a work permit? If you are an EU citizen or a Commonwealth lawyer with ancestry visa in the UK no work permit is required. You will be subject to the housing regulations however. A ‘J-Cat’ gives access to part of the local market housing, handy if you want to buy property.
- Money – 20% flat rate income tax with higher thresholds than in the UK, national insurance at half mainland rates and no VAT or council tax. Whilst gross salaries sit below Magic Circle rates (more in line with mid-City), net income will be highly competitive.
If you have any questions or would like to receive a copy of our comprehensive Guide to Living and Working in the Channel Islands please contact: [email protected].