Bermudian lawyers-in-training get opportunities abroad with Kennedys
The following interview with Bermuda-based partner Mark Chudleigh was first published by The Royal Gazette
Young Bermudians with global law firm Kennedys have been discovering opportunities abroad since the firm opened its office on the island in association with Bermuda firm, Kennedys Chudleigh in October 2017. Kennedys, which has its origins in the London insurance market, has expanded to 37 offices in 22 countries with an emphasis on supporting the re/insurance industry.
On joining Kennedys, Mark Chudleigh, Bermuda office head, was keen to explore with his new partners opportunities for providing training for Bermudian law graduates at Kennedys’ overseas offices. As a Bermudian who trained and worked as a lawyer in London for 18 years before returning to the island, Mr Chudleigh knows the value of such opportunities.
“While Bermuda has some excellent law firms, it can be difficult to provide well-rounded legal training in commercial law in Bermuda, as the firms tend to be relatively small and lack the training infrastructure and range of opportunities for hands-on experience that a large London firm can provide,” Mr Chudleigh said. As a consequence, he believes, relatively few Bermudians are able to rise through the ranks of Bermuda commercial law firms. This, he says, leads to firms having to look abroad to recruit lawyers who have gained the necessary experience in major financial centres like London.
Less than two years on, three Bermudians, Katherine Freisenbruch, Alex Cooper and William Finnerty, are training with Kennedys in London and a fourth, Jonathan Marion, will join them next year. Bermudian law graduate, Michael Cabot, has joined Kennedys’ London office as a legal assistant in its financial institutions and political risk division.
At the conclusion of their two-year training with Kennedys, the graduates will be eligible for admission as solicitors in England and Wales as well as barristers and attorneys admitted to the Bermuda Bar.
Ms Freisenbruch, who joined the London office in 2018, was attracted to Kennedys for its insurance pedigree and global reach, citing its presence in locations such as London, Hong Kong and New York as well as Bermuda. She said: “The advantages of a London training include access to a wide variety of specialty teams spanning areas such as casualty coverage, financial lines and political risk, professional indemnity and medical malpractice. You gain invaluable experience of the London insurance market, under the shadow of Lloyd’s, and a chance to develop key client relationships with secondment opportunities.”
Mr Finnerty, who joined Kennedys in London in July, agrees that there can be an advantage to gaining London legal training and experience before returning to practice in Bermuda. He said: “Kennedys places great importance on supportiveness, approachability and work-life balance. After speaking with trainees during open days and the assessment process, and hearing their positive experiences of the firm, I was convinced Kennedys would be a good fit for me.”
During his time with Kennedys in London, Mr Cabot, has seen the scale of the office’s commercial and litigation work. He praises Bermuda’s success as an international financial centre, but values the broad range of work and exposure to different practice areas in London at this early stage of his career.
Such is the success of Kennedys’ Bermudian trainee programme that the firm is now inviting applications for a sixth aspiring Bermudian lawyer, with a two-year London training contract available from September 2021. The firm will also consider Bermudians with US bar admissions for positions with its New York office.
“I see this as a win-win-win situation,” Mr Chudleigh said. “The Bermudian law graduate receives quality London training, we will have opportunities to have bright, experienced and well-trained Bermudian lawyers join us in Bermuda in the future and Kennedys London is able to recruit high quality law graduates who are attracted to the firm’s strong Bermuda and insurance industry connections.
“Bermuda is also a winner as hopefully they will return and contribute as members of Bermuda’s legal community, whether in private practice or from in-house positions.”