fivehundred magazine > Interview with... > Peter Clucas: When running a firm, expect the unexpected

Peter Clucas: When running a firm, expect the unexpected

Peter Clucas: When running a firm, expect the unexpected interview image

Good decisions are often not recognised as such due to poor understanding of why they are being made, says Cains’ managing director

How would you define Cains’ culture and how important is that culture to you?

Although Cains is one of the longest established law firms on the Isle of Man, we are a modern and progressive firm and our culture, which I believe is unique and sets us apart from other Isle of Man law firms, is one of our key defining features. We pride ourselves on having an informal, yet highly collaborative, open-door culture in which every member of staff, from business support right through to our directors, has a voice and is able to make a valuable contribution to the business and strategy of our firm.

What’s the biggest change or innovation you’ve made in the firm of late that will benefit clients?

Cains is currently in growth mode and we have recently made a number of strategic hires all of which are complementing and enhancing our service offering. We have also recently re-entered the TCSP sector with the launch of our new fiduciary business, Cains Corporate Services Limited, which enables us to provide both our international and local clients with a ‘one-stop shop’ for integrated legal, regulatory and fiduciary services.

Are there any particular challenges or opportunities to running a law firm in a smaller community?

Recruiting new talent can be a challenge, given the relatively small pool of lawyers on the island. However, the offer of high-quality, varied, and challenging work, combined with an active and balanced lifestyle, can be an attractive proposition. Smaller communities such as the Isle of Man can, however, provide many opportunities to build closer relationships and partnerships with both our clients and industry stakeholders. As a leading Isle of Man law firm, we seek to make a meaningful contribution to policy and legislative developments in the jurisdiction and regularly participate in public private sector initiatives with the aim of benefiting both our clients and the wider Isle of Man economy.

“Our aim is to be an employer of choice, attracting and retaining the most talented people to provide clients with the best service”

What are your firm’s policies on diversity and inclusion and wellbeing?

Our aim is to be an employer of choice, attracting and retaining the most talented people in order to provide our clients with the best service. Diversity and inclusion are, therefore, key priorities for the firm. The health and wellbeing of our staff is also key to our success and we offer our staff a varied programme of wellbeing events throughout the year.

What are the biggest challenges facing you in the Isle of Man, as distinct from in other Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Territories?

By all accounts, other than the macro-economic situation the whole world is facing, there are no distinct challenges faced by the Isle of Man which are materially different to those being faced by the other Crown Dependencies. However, the Isle of Man’s focus on a diversified economy over 12 or more key sectors is seen as a significant factor in our continued growth and is reflected across our diverse client base, both in terms of industry sectors and geographical spread.

What key market trends in the Isle of Man should lawyers from other jurisdictions be made aware of?

In common with many other jurisdictions, we live in times of an ever-changing regulatory landscape which continues to evolve at a rapid pace. This has created a challenging and sometimes complex environment for businesses across all regulated sectors. As a result, I am of the view that we will see a significant increase in regulatory and compliance advisory and enforcement instructions, in the coming years. On the back of recent strategic hires, Cains now has a multi-disciplinary team of regulatory specialists who regularly advise our clients on the full spectrum of regulatory and compliance matters relevant to businesses operating in or from the Isle of Man.

What are the top things most clients want and why? Have these changed over time?

Our clients ultimately look to us to provide commercially focused and technically correct legal advice that is tailored to their legal and commercial needs. That is why we always endeavour to develop an in-depth understanding of our clients’ businesses so that we can add real value as a trusted business partner. We also frequently act in conjunction with international law firms on cross-jurisdictional matters and are accustomed to providing a responsive service that meets the often fast paced and demanding expectations of our international clients.

By the jurisdiction’s nature, you will of course be sourcing many clients from outside the Isle of Man. Have recent geopolitical events made you look to fresh parts of the world?

Our clients, who are spread across the globe, use the Isle of Man due to its political stability, strong economy, and well-regulated business environment. We do, of course, have a significant number of clients in the UK and other EU countries and the impact of Brexit, if it happens, is difficult to predict. However, I remain optimistic that whatever happens, Cains is well positioned to react to our clients’ needs and the Isle of Man is well positioned to take advantage of any new opportunities that may present themselves.

As a firm, you have undergone a rebrand of late. What are the key opportunities you see in this?

Yes, it’s an exciting time. Rebranding was important, not only to reflect the ethos and values of the firm in a more modern way, but also to showcase the talent and vitality of all those working in our business. I feel that the new brand image (our new website launched in early December) better reflects who we are, what it means to work for Cains and emphasises our wide-ranging and skilled service offering. The rebranding has undoubtedly given the firm a sense of renewed energy and purpose.

What have you found is the best way to recruit and retain talent – both at partner and associate levels?

The Isle of Man may not be the most obvious location for a lawyer considering a move offshore. There are, indeed, sunnier locations! However, with its stunning countryside, extensive leisure opportunities, good schools, and excellent transport links, the island is a unique and wonderful place to live and work.

Our lawyers, who are our best ambassadors (and recruitment agents!), many of whom have worked in the City or other international financial centres, are able to enjoy challenging and interesting work while benefitting from all that the island has to offer. We find that recruitment ‘by word of mouth’ is usually the most successful way to recruit. However, we also work with international recruitment agents when necessary.

In terms of retaining talent, all I can say is that we are never complacent and are always striving to ensure that our lawyers are engaged, feel valued, and well supported and are afforded genuine opportunities for career progression.

What’s surprised you most about running a law firm?

I have been a partner with the firm for more than 20 years and worked closely with the previous heads of the firm. Taking on the role of managing director has not particularly changed my perspective of the challenges of running a law firm. That said the old adage to expect the unexpected still has the ability to throw up the odd surprise! We now have a relatively flat management structure where management responsibilities are shared between the firm’s directors. I am, therefore, able to maintain my litigation practice and oversee the firm’s litigation practice.

What advice would you give to the next generation of partners and law firm leaders?

Good communication, including listening, is very important. In my experience good decisions are often not recognised as such due to poor understanding of why they are being made. Good communication is perhaps one of the most important skills to demonstrate when trying to bring the firm’s stakeholders with you. It is equally important to have regular and honest communication with clients. They will let you know what they want and, more importantly, often tell you what could be done differently to improve your service offering.

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