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Bermuda > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings


Legal market overview

Bermuda has one of the world’s leading insurance and reinsurance markets; it is also internationally known for the quality of its insurance-linked securities products.

Despite its return to growth in 2015 after a six-year recession, in May 2017 Bermuda’s economy once again dipped into recession; and in July the David Burt-led centre-left Progressive Labour Party won a majority in the Bermudian general election. Major policy reforms are presently unlikely but boosts in private investment and international business activity, along with Bermuda’s 2017 America’s Cup and tourist arrivals, are expected to bring economic recovery by 2018.

In October 2016 the Limited Liability Company Act was passed, which provides for the formation and operation of limited liability companies (LLCs). These operate very much like Delaware LLCs and the new legislation has created advisory work for Bermuda’s lawyers on the formation of Bermuda LLCs.

Global law firms Appleby and Conyers Dill & Pearman remain the dominant practices in Bermuda, while the market has experienced new entrants with Cayman Islands-based firm Walkers Cayman, through Taylors in association with Walkers, and BVI-based Harneys, which is associated with Zuill & Co, launching in late 2016. Strong local practices include Cox Hallett Wilkinson Limited, MJM Limited and Wakefield Quin.

The Legal 500 Caribbean 2017 introduces banking, finance and capital markets and real estate sections into the Bermuda chapter to reflect the growth of these practice areas. On the real estate side, the island’s property lawyers frequently assist non-Bermudians, who can only own properties in specific condominium developments or properties allocated by the Land Valuation Office, with obtaining licences from the Bermuda government.

It would be remiss of us to ignore the ‘Paradise Papers’ leak of November 2017, which involved the leaking of millions of financial documents that were quickly obtained by the press. Over half of those documents came from Appleby and Estera, Appleby’s former fiduciary arm. Naturally, this led to much international press attention for Appleby, which was founded in Bermuda and also has offices in the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands.

It remains to be seen the extent to which this adverse publicity will impact the firm’s reputational credibility (and thereby the volume and consistency of its work for a premium client base). But at this stage – we write this mere weeks after the leak – it is too early to allow even this level of press attention to affect our rankings.

The In-House Lawyer

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