30 April 2024ArticleFeature

Rising Star Arielle DeSilva

The Appleby lawyer says mentoring from partners at the firm has been central to her success since joining as a trainee in 2020. 

Arielle DeSilva says working with Appleby partners who are recognised as market leaders has enabled her to work on some of the biggest corporate deals on the island since joining the firm. 

Give us a snapshot of your career to date.

I joined Appleby in September 2020 as a trainee in the corporate department, was called to the Bermuda Bar in November 2021 and am now an Associate in the corporate department.

My practice is heavily focused on funds and investment services, fund finance and general corporate matters. I regularly advise on a range of corporate and commercial matters, including (i) acting in connection with the establishment and development of multiple fund structures, including both standalone and master/feeder fund structures, with a particular emphasis on those investing in insurance-linked securities (ii) acting for both borrowers and lenders on multijurisdictional fund finance transactions, including advising on related matters of company law, partnership law and the grant and appropriate registration of security; and (iii) acting in connection with cross-border mergers and acquisitions, including advising on all formation, regulatory, structuring and implementation matters.

Over the last few years, I have specialised working on matters relating to some of our larger institutional clients. Primarily this relates to assisting daily one of the world’s largest alternative asset managers, which also has a reinsurance platform.

As a lawyer, what drew you to a specialisation in re/insurance?

I would not describe myself as having a specific focus on re/insurance law. However, as Bermuda is the leading offshore reinsurance hub, my specialisation as both a corporate and funds attorney in Bermuda means that a large portion of the clients we deal with on a day to day basis operate in the reinsurance space. From a funds perspective, the majority of fund structures we’ve been involved with over the last few years have been ILS funds. On the corporate side, we’ve seen traction with regards to the acquisition of reinsurance companies and have acted for both buyer and seller in this regard.

I am fortunate that I work with a number of partners at Appleby who are clear market leaders and this has translated to me working on some of the largest deals on island during my time with the firm.

What makes the re/insurance industry attractive to young professionals?

For any young professional in Bermuda, the re/insurance industry has to be viewed as the most important sector for professional development and growth. There are ample opportunities for career progression in this space and we are fortunate to be the domicile of choice for this industry. From a legal perspective, junior lawyers view the re/insurance practice as a great way to gain experience in the private practice sector whilst retaining optionality in terms of a future in-house position. Looking at some of the senior practising lawyers in Bermuda in the re/insurance industry, many of them started out in private practice gaining broad experience before transitioning in-house. 

What are the opportunities and challenges you’ve faced?

As an offshore lawyer in Bermuda, we see an array of complex matters. With each new file, you are presented with the opportunity to refine your craft and delve deeper into specific niche points and areas of law that you may not have come across prior. Given the sheer volume of work that we see in Bermuda, the opportunity to grow as a lawyer is exponential.

With regards to challenges, I think the biggest challenge is getting the balance right between home and professional life. It is a constant juggling act, but both my job as a lawyer and my job as a mother are richly rewarding. I find joy and purpose in each, in vastly different ways.

Was there someone who inspired you or acted as a mentor in your career?

I am fortunate to work alongside numerous partners who are generous with their time and wisdom.

Clive Langley has been one of my mentors since the beginning of my career and has been integral to my understanding of the legal profession as a whole. There are numerous areas that you need to excel in, to be successful in private practice, and he has sacrificed many hours over the years to ensure that I am more than just a black letter lawyer, but also entrepreneurial with the suite of soft skills needed to succeed in what is, ultimately, a business.

Matthew Ebbs-Brewer has mentored me in the funds space, including ILS, since I first started at Appleby, and has pushed me to constantly evolve my technical skills. Two transactions are rarely identical and it has been key for me to develop an ability to apply legal principles to create successful outcomes for our clients.  

Brad Adderley, despite being a long-standing member of the Bermuda Bar, still has passion and enthusiasm for both his clients and for developing new talent. I think it is easy to get jaded, or forget what “the firsts” feel like, as a senior lawyer. Brad is a breath of fresh air in this regard, and it is encouraging to see that someone can still enjoy what they do and want to invest in the firm’s future.  

I am grateful to have the opportunity to learn from each of them.

What differences does your generation bring to the industry?

I believe my generation are not afraid to push boundaries and think outside the box. We are independent thinkers who don’t simply accept the status quo because that’s what “traditionally has been done”. Sometimes this can ruffle feathers, but I think ultimately, it fosters progression which is beneficial to all.

Is the industry welcoming to younger people?

I definitely think the industry is welcoming to younger people.

I am primarily speaking on this from a legal perspective, and the clients that we interact with daily. On that basis, I would say that the industry is very welcoming to younger generations, with general counsels being willing to support me whether through general discussions reflecting on their own experiences; or acting as referees to provide positive feedback.

Additionally, there are numerous networking opportunities in the insurance and reinsurance space, which Appleby encourages us to attend.

What are your career goals?

My ultimate goal is to be office managing partner of a leading firm in Bermuda.

If you had chosen a different career, what would it have been?

I likely would have gone into underwriting.

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9 April 2024   The life re/insurance actuarial analyst is committed to the industry and to working with the community.
9 April 2024   Bermudian actuary Katie Dilke has moved rapidly through the ranks at Ariel Re, where she is head of non-catastrophe analytics.