The Offshore Interview: Nick Bullmore

September 12, 2018

Nick Bullmore is a corporate partner at Carey Olsen in the Cayman Islands. He advises on all aspects of Cayman Islands corporate law with a particular emphasis on investment funds (including fund financings), structured finance (including CLOs), joint ventures and general corporate and commercial matters. Nick graduated from Worcester College, Oxford with first-class honours in modern history and previously worked at Slaughter and May in London, and Maples and Calder in the Cayman Islands.

Carey Olsen is a leading offshore law firm, advising on Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Guernsey and Jersey law across a network of nine international offices. It is a full service law firm working across banking and finance, corporate and M&A, investment funds and private equity, trusts and private wealth, dispute resolution, insolvency and property law. Clients include global financial institutions, investment funds, private equity houses, multinational corporations, public organisations, sovereign wealth funds, high net worth individuals, family offices, directors, trustees and private clients. The firm also works alongside the major onshore law firms, accountancy firms and insolvency practitioners.

You grew up in Cayman. Was it always the plan to go back as soon as you qualified, or did you consider staying on in London?

I was open-minded as to how long I spent in London, but I knew that it was only a matter of time before the Caribbean lifestyle would start calling me home. London was a great experience and I’m very glad that I did it. As well as first class training, working at Slaughter and May also provided a valuable insight as to what onshore lawyers expect from their offshore counterparts in terms of responsiveness and quality of advice.

You were one of the founding partners of Carey Olsen’s Cayman office. What was it that encouraged you to leave the security of an established brand on the island to launch something new?

In short, it was simply too much of an opportunity to pass up! There were obviously nervous moments running up to, and following, the launch of the new office but we always had the comfort of being part of one of the largest global offshore law firms. Since our launch in Cayman in 2012, we have also opened offices in BVI, Bermuda, Cape Town, Singapore and Hong Kong. Notwithstanding the differences in geographic location, the key driver is always the quality of the people. We are particularly proud of our latest office in Bermuda, which was opened in association with leading Bermudian lawyer Michael Hanson. It has been a huge success.

Most other firms that have entered the Cayman market over the last 10 years have done so by merging with an existing practice, whereas Carey’s office has grown more organically. How has this impacted the way you’ve built the platform in Cayman?

As mentioned earlier, our focus has always been on the quality of our people. Launching a greenfield site in Cayman meant that we were able to cherry-pick the very best, and we now tend to recruit heavily from the Magic Circle and the top US firms in London to maintain that quality. Organic growth has ensured that we never lost the energetic, entrepreneurial and dynamic culture that we created at the outset.

Six years after launching, how is the Cayman office getting on?

I think it’s fair to say that we are really pleased with what we have achieved in such a short space of time. We have assembled a tremendous team and we very much look forward to discovering what the next six years will bring.

Could you briefly describe your typical day at the office?

I usually get into the office at 8.30am-9am but, having two young children, my day will invariably have started a few hours before then. Early morning emails to clients in European and Asian time zones are usually the first order of the day. As a corporate lawyer, I often have 30 or so matters on the go at any given time. This is less terrifying than it sounds because many of the queries can be managed with a quick call or email. It does, however, take lawyers from London a few months to get used to the difference in deal volume. The working day tends to finish at about 6.30pm-7pm and the office is fairly quiet from then on. We don’t have a culture of “face time” in the office so people can leave earlier if they wish. It’s possible to fit in a game of tennis or a swim after work on most days. That said, the needs of clients and onshore counsel are paramount and from time to time late nights are required. Happily these are exception rather than the rule.

As offshore counsel, do you ever feel too far removed from the end client on your transactions?

No. There is a somewhat odd perception that offshore lawyers do not deal directly with clients. It’s not true. In fact, a significant number of our deals don’t include any involvement from onshore counsel.

Away from the office, what are the best and worst things about living in Cayman?

Cayman is an amazing place if you like outdoor activities (diving, sailing, beach, rugby, tennis, cycling, BBQs etc.), tropical weather and watching sunsets. It’s definitely not the place for you if you have a strong preference for large cities, cold weather and/or commuting on the London Underground.

How do your family find the island? Is it easy to find things like childcare and good schools?

Cayman is truly at its best for families with young children. A combination of good schools, outstanding beaches and short journeys in the car make for very easy living all year round. We also have access to excellent healthcare with private insurance coverage, multiple hospitals and quick appointments. Should something extremely serious occur, Miami is only an hour away and it boasts some of the best doctors, nurses and hospitals in the world. Childcare, if needed, is widely available and much cheaper than the UK.

What’s the best advice you could give to someone arriving in Cayman on how to integrate themselves into island life?

Don’t worry about it. You’ll become part of the fabric of Cayman so much faster than you thought possible. Cayman has a very friendly, welcoming atmosphere. Strangers routinely talk to one another and it’s impossible to go to a bar, supermarket or restaurant without knowing many of the people there. Establishing a new social network happens almost overnight, often through involvement in sports clubs and other outdoor activities.

The Cayman legal market has been busy and growing for some time now. What do you think the next few years hold for the jurisdiction?

Cayman plays a vital role in facilitating the flow and allocation of global capital. Obviously, there is still much to be done on the PR front to explain this, but I don’t anticipate the need for Cayman (and other responsible offshore jurisdictions) ending any time soon.