How to approach a move to the Channel Islands
The devil is in the detail – or is it?
At Chadwick Nott we are having more and more discussions with lawyers about alternative Channel Islands career options that will complement changing lifestyle needs. Many questions quite rightly revolve around the details and practicalities of moving, living and working in a new offshore jurisdiction. Are their hidden costs to these low-tax islands? How easy is it to find accommodation? Is the work sub-standard? Will there be career options post-offshore life? Are the schools reputable for my children? Are the communities safe, sociable and welcoming?
While these are all extremely important questions to get answers to (which we can answer in detail for you based on your particular circumstances), in general we find for those who make the move to the Channel Islands, none of these of factors end up creating unsurmountable hurdles. In fact for many, it is the unforeseen advantages at the time of accepting such as the international travel opportunities, the quicker career progression, the closer client contact and the exceptionally rich family, social, sporting, health and work life balance that make lawyers so grateful they took the leap into the unknown.
In fact, the majority of those we place into new careers in the Channel Islands end up staying for over 5 years. That statistic alone probably says it all.
What to expect
Both Jersey and Guernsey offer stunning natural scenery and a healthy social life, however they are very unique islands with unique histories, government, architecture and town centres. You will inevitably have a favourite island (mine being Guernsey!) but both are excellent at making families, couples and single arrivals feel settled and part of a community very quickly.
For those moving with a family, the choice of schools are excellent (including private colleges), the medical care is superb (most law firms offer private medical insurance), the beaches are family hotspots during the summer, and there are year-round sporting activities for all ages. Sailing, horse-riding, swimming, running, gyms, tennis, football, rugby, cricket and triathlons all make up part of the Channel Islands sporting scene.
One thing to remember though, is while there is a lot going on, Jersey and Guernsey are still relatively small islands. If you long for the big international events, cosmopolitan 24-7 lifestyle and the fast pace of London, the Channel Islands may not be for you. Having said that, if a mix of both is what you desire, the transport links to London, France and the rest of the UK are excellent, with direct flights to and from most major cities.
What legal experience do you need?
While law firms will of course focus on your legal experience for a position with them, be aware that they will also be heavily focused on finding out why you would want to move to the Channel Islands from a personal perspective as well. An outgoing personality, your interests outside of work and a positive attitude will all be key factors for law firms in deciding whether you will be committed to a life in the Channel Islands.
In terms of practice areas, both Jersey and Guernsey are hubs for corporate, finance, trusts, commercial, insolvency, litigation and funds, so if you have skills in these sectors, it’s likely that they’ll be transferable and of interest to the firms based there.
Legal experience gained at large London City firms, good regional law firms, and at top-tier law firms in other common law jurisdictions such as Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and Scotland are all considered quality and relevant profiles. Firms are trying to diversify and are actively moving away from just recruiting City candidates, and this seems to be working very well for them with large influxes of international and regional lawyers over the last 10 years. For example, the Channel Islands have recently seen a surge in Scottish qualified lawyers moving offshore and this is due to it simply being a great fit from a professional, financial, cultural and lifestyle perspective.
Are there financial benefits?
Depending on which offshore jurisdiction you decide to go to, the tax rates will differ but for Jersey and Guernsey, the income tax is set at a flat rate of 20%, which compares very favourably against the UK which has a tax rate of up to 45% for higher earners.
Aside from the tax advantages, a move to the Channel Islands for many will also see them receive a marked improvement in outright salary figures as well. The market rate for an NQ at the top firms on both islands is currently between £58,000 and £65,000, which is much higher than the NQ rates for the majority of regional law firms outside of London.
When you combine the significant tax advantages, the increased base salary and the healthy work life balance of the islands, the chances of feeling a lot ‘richer’, however you define the term, are very high!
Take a look at our brochure for some great tips and further information on the Channel Islands.
Emily works with top national, City, US and mid-Atlantic firms, as well as specialist and high profile boutique practices. She has over 5 years of recruitment experience and is well-versed on the legal profession, managing roles at all levels ranging from NQ to Partner moves. She completed her legal studies at the University of Liverpool and the College of Law, Chester.
T: 0203 096 4566
M: 07341 782 040