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The Offshore Interview Mourant: ‘This Is Us’. The New Employer Brand

Benedict Roberts Market Insight, Benedict Roberts

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Mourant is one of the world’s leading offshore law firms, with expertise in Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands, Jersey and Guernsey Law. Through Mourant Governance Services, the firm delivers a complementary range of fiduciary, administration and governance services. A firm that has been at the forefront of the offshore market for decades, their vision is to be consistently recognised as the best offshore law firm and they understand that attracting and retaining talented individuals is key to achieving this. We spoke to the firm’s Global Managing Partner, Jonathan Rigby, to learn about how they attract, motivate and retain talent, and what sets them apart from competitors.


Jonathan has been the Global Managing Partner of Mourant since 2008. In this role he chairs the firm’s Management Committee and is responsible for implementing its strategy. His experience includes a period as Head of the London office and later leading the firm through the largest merger of offshore law firms, opening new offices in the Caribbean and Asia, and establishing complementary businesses and service lines.

 
In a nutshell, what is your employer brand and what message are you aiming to send to those outside the firm?
We’re a firm that’s going places. We believe passionately in having a shared ambition – a strong sense of common purpose, where every member of the global team is clear about our goals. It’s about the role they can play in helping to achieve them. Being ambitious for our clients, and our people, is in our DNA. That’s why it’s a central message in our employer brand.
 
When we talk about what makes Mourant different we focus on shared ambition, but we also describe three further things that are part of our culture and, when combined, really do set us apart:
 
  1. Our firm has a market-leading approach to career direction and development: professional growth is a real focus for us;
  2. We win the most interesting, challenging and complex work and it’s the quality of this work that drives us;
  3. We’re passionate about team spirit at Mourant; within and across service lines and locations. There’s a very real connection and collaboration in our firm.
 
Shared ambition is core to the proposition of most businesses, but what does this mean at Mourant?
Shared ambition is about having a strong sense of common purpose. Where every member of the team at Mourant is clear about our goals and the role they can play in helping to achieve them. For us, shared ambition stands for thinking about the whole firm and our global goals, it’s about organising ourselves so that we work in cross-practice, crossservice and cross-location teams to achieve our goals and it influences the way we recognise and reward success, for example through our bonus scheme and the measurement of performance.
 
How does this message complement the firm’s values?
At Mourant our values are firmly at the heart of our business and have been for decades; they inform every decision we take and the way in which we engage with our clients and with each other. Our values of client commitment, mutual respect, enabling excellence, one firm, and forward thinking underpin the way we describe ourselves, and the areas we’ve chosen to amplify to attract, retain and develop our talented people. Take the idea of shared ambition, for example, and you can see this directly reflects our value of ‘One Firm’ and the importance we put on working together through collective effort and mutual support, putting the interests of the firm before any individual, team or office.
 
Why are you doing this now?
Put simply, we want to ensure we stand out; distilling down what makes us a great employer into a clear and succinct message so that we become consistently recognised as an employer of choice. To attract and retain top talent, we need a clear, consistent and authentic employer brand message. Although we’ve been a leader in delivering offshore legal services for decades, we’re a firm that doesn’t stand still.
 
People are at the heart of our business and pivotal to the achievement of our strategy, and it’s essential that we put ourselves in the strongest position possible to attract, retain, develop and motivate the best people. 
 
How does your professional development programme work in practice?
We have a market-leading career development programme and structure at Mourant called ‘ADVANCE’. This learning and development programme is supported by an excellence framework that enables us to recognise and reward performance at every level.
 
ADVANCE is a systematic and transparent approach to learning and development, managed and delivered through our dedicated learning team. The programme is designed to help all our people to be the best they can be and drives a culture of continuous improvement.
 
Everyone in our team has access to ADVANCE, regardless of their level or where they work in our business.
 
Mourant works with blue chip clients across all your jurisdictions, but are there any recent transactional or litigation mandates that you’re particularly proud of winning?
 
Many of our mandates are undertaken with significant, global clients.
 
We have a large global team advising on the offshore aspects of transactions that are often multi-jurisdictional and cross-border. Often we’re involved in industry ‘firsts’ and this year we’ve worked on multi-billion dollar debut investment funds and a record-breaking Japanese outbound M&A deal, for example. 
 
Our litigation group is one of the largest offshore and involved in the largest and most high-profile disputes, including for example, the Madoff fraud - related Pearson v Primeo Fund and the related Primeo v HSBC case, as well as one of the largest cases to be brought before the court in the Channel Islands relating to Carlyle Capital Corporation. Mourant also regularly appears in disputes before the Privy Council. These deals and cases are not only significant in their own right, many of our mandates are for long-standing clients, including large financial institutions and marketleading onshore counsel.
 
We’ve been recognised as a top tier offshore firm in our practice areas for decades.
 
Taking everything you’ve said so far together, can you give us an anecdote that sums up Mourant in your view?
 
At Mourant we’re far greater than the sum of our parts. Clients working with us will often comment on how we act as one, putting the interests of the client before the firm and the firm before the individual and making things happen by working as a single team across borders and time-zones. It’s a hallmark for us. 
 
There has always been competition for lawyers relocating to the offshore jurisdictions, but in recent years we’ve seen a marked increase in people moving between firms on the islands. Does this change affect how you pitch yourselves as an employer?
 
The market has moved on. What we’re seeing, and responding to, is a need to provide a compelling story about our culture and values as a firm. This is by nature unique to us and sets us apart. And it’s what you’d expect from a leading firm. We understand that candidates want to belong to something special; to share values and to be rewarded for collective achievement of a firm’s goals. This is the culture we nurture in our firm and that’s why we’re promoting ourselves in this way.