London is one of the most historical, dynamic and diverse cities in the world. As one of the world’s major financial centres, it has a highly sophisticated legal sector. All the major international law firms have offices in London, with the emergence of the US firms in London being the major development over the past ten years.
All the major offshore law firms have offices in London so they can provide advice on the laws of Cayman, The BVI and Bermuda in a convenient time zone.
Despite a relatively high rate of income tax, lawyers in London are very well paid. Magic Circle NQ Associates earn as much as £65k, with elite US firms paying as much as £95k at the same level. Equity Partners can earn well in excess of £1million at the elite firms.
Non EU nationals require a work permit, which is normally achieveable, provided the hiring firm can demonstrate a need that cannot be met locally. To practice in a UK law firm you must be admitted in a Commonwealth jurisdiction. Others must sit a qualified lawyers’ test. US lawyers may practice US law in London without sitting a test, if appropriate.
Lawyers in the leading London firms work hard and transactional work can mean that the hours are unpredictable. Lawyers working for offshore firms in London work more regular hours, as they tend to work alongside their onshore colleagues on discrete parts of the same transactions.
The combination of quality of work and more predictable, stable hours, whilst remaining in vibrant London, has seen a significant number of quality lawyers join the offshore law firms in London.