Some children dream of being lawyers when they grow up. Brad Adderley wasn’t one of them. By his own admission his grades were average and he had a speech impediment. When it came to a family argument however, no matter how trivial, he never gave up. He ended up at law school because his mother told him to go.
“I did it because I was told to, not because I had this epiphany,” he said.
Fast forward almost 30 years and his mother was proved right. Mr Adderley, 52, is managing partner of Appleby’s Bermuda office, head of the corporate department and head of the insurance team.
His CV is full of notable transactions and he remains at the forefront of developing corporate legislation to meet the ever-changing needs of Bermuda’s corporate community.
“I like winning business. I like doing transactions. I didn’t want to be a liability to the firm. I wanted to be an asset,” he said. He is also driven by the need to solve a problem, particularly when others can’t.
“What I really like doing is structuring new concepts. I like solving problems. I call it thinking sideways. You get to an issue, you can’t solve it. Most people stop. If you keep on going sideways until you find the weakness, you solve the problem.”
An example he shared is Special Purpose Insurers (SPIs), which, he explained, “originally came about to do one transaction, one cedant, preapproved by the BMA [Bermuda Monetary Authority].” But then someone wanted to write multiple transactions, with multiple cedants. “We came up with the construct and we did the first two unlimited normal commercial reinsurer SPIs years ago.”
It wasn’t always this way however. Mr Adderley had a harsh reality check in his first review after qualifying, which he described as “atrocious”, adding that he was “mediocre at best — I wasn’t excelling”.
Instead of giving up, that review inspired the opposite. “That year I applied myself and then the following December, my review was excellent and from there I continued to apply myself,” he said.
Mr Adderley has had more bumps in the road along the way, but believes being a good lawyer comes down to hard work, experience and getting the best work done for your clients, on time, consistently.
“You’re only as good as your last deal. You have to manage your life to realise that what you’ve done five minutes ago is of no importance. It’s your next deliverable that’s of importance, because if you don’t get that one right, that client might leave and go somewhere else.”
Mr Adderley leads by example, regularly working until the early hours without the need for caffeine, and he appreciates people who share his enthusiasm, passion and drive.
When someone is a qualified lawyer, “that should assume you’re hardworking”, he said. “Not necessarily. Then, they have to be willing to work, to learn, to receive feedback, because even though we hope the legal education process prepares you, it doesn’t really prepare you.
“If you go to law school, you’ve got to have a brain, but I’ve had international scholarship winners who turn up and work 9 to 5. If you go to a law firm in New York or London, a trainee will probably work longer hours than anyone else in the firm.”
When he finds those hard workers, he does everything he can to keep them, and while work is vital to pay the bills, there is always a place for fun. “Covid showed we are supposed to interact,” he said, adding that Appleby has increased the number of staff events it organises.
Hard work, however, doesn’t mean being inflexible and Mr Adderley is adamant that as long as the work is done and clients are happy, people can work from home or take time out during the day to do what they need to do.
Again, the father-of-two leads by example, starting his day once he’s taken his own son, when needed, to school and going to CrossFit, which he loves: “You’ve got to run, be flexible, strong, fit, skilled. There’s always a constant challenge.”
Mr Adderley believes that more corporate activity is on the horizon as Bermuda’s commercial landscape innovates, evolves and reacts to world events. Economic turbulence, he said, can often result in a flight to “jurisdictions with better reputations”, such as Bermuda.
He added: “When FTX went under in the crypto space, we had clients contact us to say thank you for convincing me to not go to that jurisdiction.”