Guernsey: Marcus Leese Profiled As Lawyer Of The Month
Last Updated: 3 July 2017

Marcus Leese is a Guernsey Advocate and practice partner of Ogier's expanding Guernsey office. His broad practice covers private client and trusts, banking and finance corporate and commercial, and investment fund work. Marcus is named as a "Leading Individual" in respect of both banking and corporate advice by Legal 500 in 2016, and was named in the Who's Who guide to Private Client and Trusts and in Citywealth's Leaders List. Besides Guernsey, he is also qualified in the BVI, England and Wales, and New Zealand.

What is behind the recruitment of new partners in Ogier's Guernsey office?

For the past several years we have been very much focused on developing and growing the office here in Guernsey, both specifically to meet demand, but also consistently with the rest of the firm's strategic growth. We have seen an increase across all of our service lines – within the last 18 months we have recruited Martyn Baudains to the partnership to establish the property and personal law team, Craig Cordle as a partner in the investment funds team, and we have just welcomed Gavin Ferguson to the partnership in the private client team. That's on top of numerous associate and senior associate hires, and the arrival of Alex Horsbrugh-Porter to the new role of counsel in the dispute resolution team.

The test for a law firm is to stand out in a crowded market – what is Ogier's strategy to achieve that?

Ultimately, we have got the best people. As a professional services firm the greatest value that we can bring to our clients is the quality, depth of experience and expertise of our people. That's what underpins our continued recruitment drive, but it's also why we have invested so much into training and developing our existing staff.  We are one of the very few Guernsey firms delivering a training contract programme equivalent to a City firm, so that young lawyers can qualify as English solicitors here. There's also a comprehensive in-house technical skills programme for our lawyers and support staff. But for a modern lawyer, technical excellence is just the starting point – lawyers today need to be innovative, they need to be focused on continuous improvement, and above all they need to be focused on delivering better quality service to clients. That is what Ogier is all about. So we've now supplemented our technical training with training on important non-technical topics such as client service, business management and process innovation.

Beyond Ogier, how do you see Guernsey's prospects?

Guernsey is in a remarkably strong position – the strategy that the legislature and regulator have pursued of leading the market in intelligent and practical regulation while seeking opportunities for innovation and diversification was a foresighted one, and long may it continue. In practical terms, and taking the investment funds sector as an example, we have seen a 12.3% increase in the net asset value of funds under administration in 2016, which is a very impressive performance in the context of considerable global uncertainty. There are reasons to believe that strong performance will continue – Guernsey offers a sustainable third-country option in contrast to the Brexit uncertainty, the pressure on costs in the sector favours Guernsey because of its lower overheads, and the NPPR regime is holding up in the face of delays on the ESMA passport implementation.

What is the attraction for you of practicing across a broad area of legal advice?

One of the things that I love about working in Guernsey is that it is a genuine full service jurisdiction, and we as a firm have a full service offering. Many other jurisdictions are dominated by one sector such as insurance or investment funds – one of the real strengths here in Guernsey is that there is material business in investment funds, in banking and finance, in corporate work, in insurance and in private wealth and trusts. All of those elements are represented here and my practice crosses all of them to some extent. For me that was one of the attractions of coming back here having gone to BVI and to Hong Kong– it was the chance to utilise my broad range of skills and experience.

Tell us about your career

I was born and educated in New Zealand and practiced tax law there for eight years before I started looking for a change and something different – Guernsey was about as different from New Zealand as I could find, so I joined the then newly-established Ogier Guernsey office in 1999. I have practiced with Ogier in our BVI and Hong Kong offices,  and I'm now back in Guernsey. I've had wonderful opportunities to live and work in some very different places around the world, but ultimately have chosen to come back to Guernsey because it's beautiful, open and welcoming place, and also because we can do the highest quality international work here.

This interview first appeared in Business Brief magazine.

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