Interlink's International Business
Following on from our blog last week where we introduced two members of our international legal recruitment team: Matthew and Ciaran, we bring you more overseas insights! In Part 2 of our blog on our International Legal Recruitment reach, we hear more from Daniyal who heads up the team.
Daniyal Aziz – head of international, International Division
I head up the International Division here at Interlink, where we have a team of experienced Consultants specialised in recruiting at Associate and Partner level in Asia, Europe, Middle East, Africa, and the States. I started with Interlink in the Administration Department and undertook an apprenticeship in Business Administration alongside my role until becoming a proficient recruitment consultant. Throughout my time at Interlink, I have always had a focus on and interest in international jurisdictions. My experience has seen me help many Lawyers in Asia with their legal careers.
Growth across jurisdictions
Today as part of my role, I am responsible for overseeing the activities in each jurisdiction we are active in, from Africa to Ireland, Asia to Europe. One of my strengths lies in business development, and I frequently have discussions with Managing Partners and key decision makers at law firms to help them with their growth strategy, or to pinpoint where the best opportunities are for them in the market. I enjoy understanding what the changes and trends are in the legal market so that I can bring a more consultative approach to my role.
Depending on where we have the most instructions for legal staff sourcing, and clients who need our help, I can be involved in the recruitment of Associates and Partners across a variety of territories including South Africa, The Netherlands, and Ireland.
Spain’s Latin American links
Spain is one of the countries I have been involved with recently. Due to their cultural proximity, there is an increased amount of cross border activity between Latin America and Spain. This enhances Spain’s appeal as a hub for Latin American legal work. And as such, Spain is becoming an attractive option for law firms keen to get a foothold in Europe. Brexit has boosted this as corporations targeting the Spanish market are setting up subsidiaries to oversee their local operations.
The larger and more internationally-focused law firms are having good success targeting the rising volume of inbound work. Since most domestic banks and investors are not as active during this period, the void in the market has been filled by foreign investors and funds. They are happy to take the risk and view these market conditions as an advantage, to buy up assets and stakes in companies at discounted rates.
While it is still possible to practise home country law or public international law that’s not enforceable in Spain, solicitors will not be able to practise Spanish law without requalifying as a Spanish lawyer. The question is, will we see Spanish nationals heading back home to continue their legal careers?
Focus on Restructuring
At the beginning of the pandemic, and as confidence in global markets declined, the corporate lawyers I worked with saw most of their transactional pipelines fall away. Then came an increase in vertical acquisitions as companies bought up parts of their supply chain. It’s been an interesting period, for sure.
And looking at the Litigation space in Spain, and let’s not forget that Spain has a high number of SME businesses, Lawyers have been long anticipating an increase in Insolvency instructions. However, most struggling companies have instead decided to go down the restructuring route. We can expect work streams within Litigation as businesses look to reopen their contracts and renegotiate their lease agreements for example, by citing the force majeure clause.
It’s been both interesting and rewarding to be able to immerse myself in new jurisdictions in the last few months, such as The Cayman Islands. Being home to close to half of the world’s assets under management and more than eleven thousand investment funds which are registered to the jurisdictions, the offshore territory is a buoyant market for transactional activity.
The main disciplines where we are seeing vacancies with law firms in The Cayman Islands are within Funds, Banking & Finance, Corporate, Commercial Litigation, Insolvency & Restructuring, Trusts, and Real Estate.
Real Estate revolution
We are seeing a lot of new workstreams open up for Real Estate lawyers in the Cayman Islands. This is due to several legislative, and market changes, keeping the real estate market buoyant.
Firstly, there are no property taxes or restrictions on foreign ownership, and property titles are usually granted and guaranteed by the Cayman Islands Government. While there is a one-off Stamp Duty, concessions to this have incentivised property developers and constructions firms, leading to a rise in the number of hotels being built. More buildings might also appear, or certainly transactions will take place, as Cayman incorporated businesses are now required to have a physical presence on the island to demonstrate their commitment to it.
There’s been a tripling of Real Estate prices too, especially in the prime areas of the Seven Mile Beach corridor and South Sound over the last four years. Most people who own property in Cayman rent out the homes for the majority of the year, which has led to a rise in rental rates. These did slow down at the start of 2020, when the pandemic hit. However, it led to more people selling their properties to profit from the appreciation. When you take all this into account, plus consider the government’s plans to increase Cayman’s population from 60k to 100k, it’s clear to see legal services will be in demand.
Practising law in the Cayman Islands
The firms on the ground in the Cayman Islands have remained relatively stable despite the global pandemic. Lawyers there also enjoy access to international work, attractive salaries, and lucrative packages.
For anyone keen to practise law offshore in the Cayman Islands, you must be admitted, have practised in a Commonwealth jurisdiction, and have a minimum of 3 years’ PQE. While in the UK the consultancy route is gaining popularity as an alternative route for legal careers, have you considered a move to an offshore destination such as in Cayman?
Daniyal Aziz – head of international, Asia-Pacific region
Leading the way in China
China was the first country to be hit by the outbreak of Covid-19, and the first to shut down most of its economy. They introduced a policy to cut taxes and help stabilise employment to allow work and production to resume. As a result, China’s economy started to rebound in the second quarter of 2020.
The international economic landscape in 2020 drove increased M&A activity in China, with Chinese companies looking at domestic consolidation. International firms continue to strengthen their position in China through the increasing use of joint-operation agreements with local firms. This enables them to draw on the expertise of locally-qualified lawyers on the ground. And it’s the national firms in China who have done the most hiring over the last few months.
I find the Chinese market fascinating as it’s so different from the UK jurisdiction. It certainly makes for someone immensely educational conversations when I am speaking with Associates and Partners there.
Asia bounced back well
Interestingly, as a whole, law firms in the Asia-Pacific region haven’t fared too badly through the pandemic. They have certainly remained hiring, with some significant lateral hires having taken place. Different countries and different patterns have emerged, with most of the strategic hires having been done by US firms, while in Singapore there has been a significant amount of Partner hires. In fact, Singapore is very much a major commercial and financial centre for the Asia-Pacific region. So much so, it’s an important location for international offshore law firms. And over the years what we’ve seen happen is a greater fusion between foreign and local firms.
The logistics of international legal recruitment
While we deal with countries in such far away locations, our team very much embrace a ‘different’ working day. When you consider the different time zones, we don’t work around the typical nine to five hours. Of course, to make calls with Associates or Partners in China, I need to be at my desk pretty early in the morning. There are opportunities to speak with candidates later on in their day, but I need to be prepared to start early to be up when my candidates are.
Here at Interlink, we have the processes and technology in place to allow us to work flexibly, and communicate with legal professionals around the world, when we need to.
Is your law firm located in a foreign jurisdiction and struggling to source the right legal talent? If you need the help and support of a knowledgeable, committed legal recruitment partner, contact one of Daniyal Aziz to discuss your needs and how we can help.