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John Rimmer

Director  |  Advocate John Rimmer Limited

England and Wales
Isle of Man


Private wealth

Enhanced Q&A

What has been the highlight of your practice over the past 12 months?

Setting aside a £30 million trust structure created by a client following disastrous advice/mis-selling.

What advice would you give rising stars/new lawyers in the private client world?

Make the client’s interests your priority, but not at the cost of yourself, your family, your firm, or your profession.

Do you have any outside interests or hobbies?

Singing (baritone), Fishing, Board member of Hospice Isle of Man

When the restaurants reopen, where would you like to go?

Fourteen North, Isle of Man

What do you think will be the biggest three challenges in your practice for the next 12 months?

The greatest challenge we face to growth and sustenance of the firm is the difficulty in identifying individuals of sufficient calibre who share our vision of delivering the highest quality work, adhering to our standards of propriety and professional standards. In the Isle of Man, there is a small pool of individuals who have the suitable areas of interest and expertise, and who share our standards. Among young lawyers in the Isle of Man, there is a strong draw to commercial firms, owing to the perception of higher financial reward, and only a small number of legal professionals to start with.

We would love to look outside the Isle of Man to bring people of the right standards to grow the practice. It is still a challenge to communicate to good candidates who live outside the Isle of Man what a wonderful standard of living, and quality of work, we enjoy there.

The second challenge that threatens is cyber crime. The perpetrators of this type of crime sometimes portray themselves as campaigning forces for good, but they generally show no respect to the fair and proper rights and wishes of people affected by their activities. At best they seem to revel in the impact, regardless of the effect on the subjects of their interests – but most go further and use information for dishonest purpose of their own, or demand ransoms, threatening disclosure or sabotage.
The worry of the impact of being subject to a cyber crime, the consequences of a cyber attack, and the cost of addressing the risk, are among the biggest worries facing firms at present.

The third challenge will be re-establishing contact with professionals in London, New York, and elsewhere following the restrictions imposed because of the COVID pandemic. The Isle of Man quickly eliminated community-spread infection, and we were able to enjoy six months with no local restrictions. However, our borders are largely closed to outsiders, and we are required to isolate for two or three weeks on our return. Our contact firms are staffed remotely, so, even if we were to visit major centres, there seems to be no one in the offices. This all makes keeping up relationships from the Isle of Man a challenge at the moment. Zoom calls have been great, but it is a much greater challenge asking someone to hold a Zoom chat than it is to arrange to meet them for lunch, a coffee, or a drink.

Can you identify any new areas you have developed within your practice to further benefit your clients?

Our core areas are in based in traditional private client law firms: wills, probate, trusts, charities, taxation. To meet demands from our clients connected to their interests, we have developed expertise in several more areas:

Pensions – occupational and personal pension schemes have become common planning in the Isle of Man, and we find that our clients often have significant pension interests as part of their arrangements.

Matrimonial – we still do not undertake contentious matrimonial proceedings, although we are considering developing that. We have already started advising on prenuptial agreements, though, and other planning for protection of wealth from matrimonial proceedings. We also advise trustees and other parties in relation to litigation affecting trusts in connection with matrimonial proceedings.

Contentious – when we started, we did so as a non-contentious practice. We quickly needed to develop a contentious capability to address settlor and trustee mistakes and disasters, and have acted in matters concerning assets of more than £1 billion in value.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Don’t worry! As a diligent young lawyer, I wanted to ensure perfection in everything, and to minimise risk. This led to tremendous unnecessary pressure when advising clients, and inhibited development. In fact, once I saw the inconsistent and conflicting opinions from leading experts, I learned that my knowledge and experience were as valid as the next person’s. I also realised that, even where people make mistakes, they rarely result in harm. Where they do result in harm, it is rarely serious. If the harm is serious, it is usually remediable. It is a rare case where an adviser’s error leads to irremediable and serious harm for a client. On the other hand, it may also be the fact that we worry that makes us want to achieve the very best in the quality of our work. So perhaps do worry a bit!

Be patient in your career. When you are beginning on a legal career, there seem to be so many concerns: getting a job on qualification, building up relevant experience, peer competition, being noticed for promotion, and so on. Looking back, given the opportunities that I had, I tended to move between firms when I saw limited opportunities for progression with my then employer – I probably did so a little too quickly, and too easily.

Add professional qualifications, write articles, and give talks. Your knowledge will develop in leaps and bounds, and you will find it gives you confidence (especially at a young age) in advising private clients, who often prefer an older adviser.