Received wisdom might lead you to believe that in the City, a high-level legal career only comes with compromise. You want weekends, family time, holidays, sleep? Look elsewhere. Perhaps that ‘elsewhere’ should include the Cayman Islands.
The offshore sector is about as close as the legal profession gets to the ideal mix of high-quality work, good money, genuine prospects, and yes, a sensible work-life balance. That’s not to say that lawyers here don’t work hard. It is a fiercely competitive market and you’re advising on the Cayman law elements of huge cross-border deals/ disputes, so the clients are demanding.
But there just isn’t the same culture of 24/7 expectation and the nature of the work (tending towards more complex, targeted analysis as opposed to heavyweight documentation), allows individual lawyers more personal control over how they manage their workload. Let’s put it this way –– we have yet to hear of a lawyer who has moved to the Cayman Islands and found anything other than a significant improvement in work-life balance
Financially it works too. When you take into account the lack of income tax, a typical 3 years’ PQE lawyer arriving in Cayman is likely to take-home about the same as some salaried partners in the UK. Okay, it’s not cheap to live there, but it’s not that expensive!
All this and a Caribbean ex-pat lifestyle thrown in for good measure, it sounds perfect right? Well, we don’t hear many regrets from those who make the move, that’s for sure, but it won’t be for everyone. Grand Cayman is a small island – under 200km2 – with a population that would fit in Wembley Stadium and leave plenty of seats for the tourists! It’s cosmopolitan and has access to all of life’s luxuries, but not in anything like the same numbers you will find them in a major city. You will bump into the same people at the bars, restaurants, beaches, sports clubs, so that anonymity that comes as standard in a metropolis, is hard to find here. And you have to get ‘off the rock’ from time to time (Miami anyone?), unless you are particularly immune to ‘island fever’.
If this doesn’t put you off, you might just be one of the many Cayman ex-pats whose main regret is that they didn’t do it sooner.