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Clerks back proposed lawyers law

| 21/02/2017 | 50 Comments

(CNS Business): A group of article clerks, law school graduates and students have offered their support in writing to the Legal Practitioners Bill. The letter sent to all 18 members of the Legislative Assembly from the trainee lawyers said they were the ones who stand to be “most affected” by the proposed legislation and felt very strongly about seeing the bill pass. They said that although speaking out at the beginning of their careers on such a controversial topic was a real concern, their voice had to be heard.

Sixteen people signed the letter, seen by CNS, in which they said they believed the bill would protect Caymanians in several ways. They wrote that the Cayman Islands Legal Practitioners Association (CILPA) would rest in the hands of Caymanians, offering better representation for local lawyers than has been the case to date.

The proposed legislation has caused endless controversy for well over a decade, in and out of the profession. Wayne Panton, the financial services minister, has been determined to steer through a bill that can work for the profession without undermining opportunities for Caymanians lawyers, which has seemed an impossible task. Despite some continued opposition and efforts to address all the concerns raised, Panton believes this draft legislation can work.

The bill has the backing of the Cayman Islands Law Society and the Caymanian Bar Association. The letter from the law students and trainees is another important offering of support because they are the ones that critics of the legislation have said they are trying to protect.

Among its requirements, the bill calls for justification when non-Caymanians are promoted ahead of Caymanians in a merit-based system, which the students said was a positive move. The introduction of continuing professional development would also ensure that local lawyers stay competitive and that the ultimate control of legal firms would remain in Cayman, the students and clerks said.

The requirement for practicing certificates for all lawyers would prevent foreign lawyers who are not qualified Caymanian lawyers from offering Cayman Islands legal advice, which is legal under the current law, they wrote.

The young trainee lawyers also said they believed the requirements in the draft law would create more opportunities for Caymanians because firms would place a greater value on hiring locals, since the number of Caymanian lawyers in a firm would directly impact the number a firm based here could employ globally.

“This also creates greater opportunities for Caymanians to work in overseas offices in jobs that typically go to foreigners,” the letter stated, noting that the inclusion of articled clerks in the firm’s lawyer numbers meant that firms not currently offering article clerkship would be required to do so if the new law is passed.

The trainees also said the introduction of a Code of Conduct was a huge step forward for Caymanian lawyers. Locals would become eligible for the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme in England and Wales, allowing Caymanian qualified lawyers to become qualified lawyers in England and Wales. After that, they could become qualified in multiple jurisdictions, creating a level playing field with lawyers around the world and expats lawyers here. They said that the bill would make it much easier for articled clerks to go abroad and spend time in a foreign office.

“As members of the Cayman Islands legal community at the very start of our careers, who will be affected by this legislation for the entirety of our careers, we urge you to pass this bill,” the students ask the MLAs. “This bill will protect Caymanians in ways that are inconceivable under the current law, and offer opportunities for growth, career development and success that are simply impossible now.”

Accepting that the bill is not perfect, as no law ever is, the young would-be lawyers said that some concerns about it are legitimate but many are not. Most importantly, however, they said that the draft legislation was “a step forward from the stone-age to the modern world”.

The bill can be seen on the CNS Library

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Category: Finance, Financial Services, Law

Comments (50)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I am too afraid to speak out publicly. This bill is a joke.

  2. SSM345 says:

    How does a bill which effectively allows the local firms to outsource their attorneys make it better for a Caymanian Articled Clerk? Our local legal industry will shrink because you will no longer need to physically be here to practice local law……Smaller firms will mean less opportunity.

    • Diogenes says:

      As opposed to the status quo, where there is nothing to stop any firm, even ones with no connection to Cayman at all, practising Cayman law overseas?

    • Anonymous says:

      What part of the BILL WILL DO THE OPPOSITE of what you are claiming don’t you understand? There are NO controls now. The BILL WILL INTRODUCE THEM for the FIRST time!

      • Anonymous says:

        Ummm, there are controls. It is just that no-one is willing to enforce them.

        • Anonymous says:

          ummmm set them out here in detail if you say so! Stop the BS – you know there are none and that will be the case until this Bill is passed!

    • Anonymous says:

      you’re aware the bill does literally the exact opposite of this correct? it makes outsourcing against the law.

      have you even read the bill?

  3. Alexander Diocletian. says:

    Of the “18” how many are Caymanian?

  4. Anonymous says:

    This will move Cayman business from Cayman firms to London and New York firms and then push documents to smaller local firms to post box.

    • Anonymous says:

      How could that be? There are no controls now but the Bill will put them in place!

    • Anonymous says:

      If you don’t please London and New York firms you will have no business to speak of. The local firms, no matter how “global” they claim to be, are just little cogs in the international finance machine.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I hope those little clerks don’t coming running to those who tried to prevent the demise of the profession when they realize what they actually did.

    • Anonymous says:

      The only thing that has suffered a demise around here is common sense! Those “little clerks” are smarter than the Opposition MLAs!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Funny how the opposition is almost completely anonymous.

    • Anonymous says:

      Guarantee Whistle blower protections and provide a mechanism to tell the story, and you would be shocked!

    • Anonymous says:

      Not really. Not given the total destruction to careers that arises if anyone speaks out, and a total failure of regulators to step in and enforce the law.

      • Anonymous says:

        Oh BS! Name one example! It is easy to spew such crap but when you are put to proof it is crickets!

      • Anonymous says:

        Name one instance when that happened – which was not just another useless lawyer getting canned for real-world reasons.

  7. Anonymous says:

    By the way- enough of this “stone age” nonsense. The Bill was revised as recently as 2015- that is much more recent than most of our laws. Big firms just want to get away with their misconduct of holding unqualified persons overseas out as cayman attorneys. I hope HMRC comes for each of them and takes a look at all of their “advice” over which there is no legal privilege since these people were not qualified attorneys.

    • Anonymous says:

      They are qualified attorneys. The fact that part of the advice relates to a tinpot tax haven does not change that.

      • Anonymous says:

        Ummm, to be a qualified attorney you have to have been admitted to the Cayman Islands bar and hold a current Cayman Islands practising certificate. Since the people we are talking about do not meet those criteria, they are not qualified attorneys.

      • Anonymous says:

        Qualified means holding a practicing certificate you nit wit

    • Diogenes says:

      HMRC? What are you smoking? UK as a proportion of overseas business channeled to Cayman by the foreign offices of local law firms is a mere fraction – and they sure as hell don’t bank the fees in the UK.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Have you noticed the recent adverts everywhere on CNS, facebook and LinkedIn – all promoting a ‘global’ legal industry here? The articled clerks seem to understand the benefits of the bill but do they understand the pitfalls contained in the same bill which are being pushed through with this trojan horse?

  9. Anonymous says:

    This is really another tax on the efficiency of the Cayman product. A small population cannot produce more high quality attorneys than it already does. Those that cannot rise to the top under the current system are simply not up to it.

    • Anonymous says:

      If the Caymanians plainly could not make it to the top, why did you find it necessary to hide the fact of their applications from the immigration authorities?

    • Anonymous says:

      “A small population cannot produce more high quality attorneys than it already does.”

      Let me fix that for you: “a small population that supports its brightest and best in going to the same universities as attorneys hired from overseas cannot produce more high quality attorneys than the law firms are prepared to train properly.”

      There, now it reads properly.

    • Anonymous says:

      A small population can do so. Where is your evidence that it cannot?

  10. Anonymous says:

    I remember believing this much in the system back when I was an articled clerk. My only comments to them would be to speak to those of us who have come through this minefield before you so you can understand why this bill in its current state is not good for Caymanian lawyers. Many of us are in-house for example and this bill creates a threat to our employment. Its all good to be bright eyed and bushy tailed, respectfully you have no idea what is awaiting you.

  11. puppet says:

    On believeable. These newbies really show what kind of attorneys they will make
    . They do not understand anything.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Ah, the naivete of these budding lawyers. Sure, every articled clerk sees the world through rose tinted glasses, they are young, having their dreams fulfilled, all seems wonderful in the world. Then a few years in, reality hits you like a mack truck. You discover you are going no where because of your ethnicity, your accent, your alma mater, you see others with less qualification and/or experience but with more connections than you overtake you and alas, you become another Caymanian attorney casualty. The stories are endless.
    A message to the newbies, there is nothing different about you – you too will become victims – and there is nothing in the LPB that protects you any more than the current LPL and the current Immigration Law. Discrimination against Caymanian lawyers is very real and the LPB does nothing to address this scourge on our legal industry.
    My guess is that your firms gave you an ultimatum to write the letter, (that’s an age old trick). Here’s a heads up – that is just the start and will be the extent of your usefulness to them.

    • Justsayin says:

      Your post sounds like sour grapes. Ask yourself this hard question. Were you passed over because you could not make them as much money as others?

      The world isn’t fair. If you have been presented with obstacles find a way around them rather than stopping and blaming everything on something other than how you respond to how unfair it is. If you are being discriminated against what are you doing to prove them wrong? Asking mommy to fix it for you isn’t going to help you in the long run. It may also hurt others in the process.

      Is the state of affairs downright ugly? Probably yes in varying degrees but affirmative action type policies haven’t worked out so well in other places, why do you think it would work better here?

      • Anonymous says:

        @Justsayin – if there were a level field there would be no need for anyone to legislate to protect anyone. Obstacles we have to find a way around do not exist for others so its unfair to simply state we have to find a way around them. You want ME to find a way around attorneys who refuse to train articled clerks properly because it eats into their commission and firms turn a blind eye? You want ME to find a way around partners telling interviewees they were only called for an interview because they were Caymanian and immigration required it. You want ME to find a way around being told to show incoming expatriate attorneys the ropes but not to expect development myself because they are too busy?

        You have no idea the circumstances many bright Caymanian attorneys face. We operate silently yet we all know we are enduring unfairness whether in private practice or in house. You came on here to tell us to find our own way around obstacles not of our making and you have offered ZERO ideas as to how that would be achieved. So, just as we are meant to keep quiet you would prefer we did too. The LPB should not be viewed as affirmative action. I don’t agree with its current form but the intention is to protect Caymanian attorneys in a profession where they are outnumbered in Cayman. Its okay to protect the environment or certain animals because they are few in number but not do the same for humans? Do you also believe no “affirmative action” should be taken to protect blue iguanas or should they too find ways around obstacles put in their way?

        Come on now.

        • Justsayin says:

          I think you missed the point. There is no level playing field in any profession. If you got into law thinking it was about equality and justice you missed the plot entirely. I do want you to find a way around the obstacles I am just pointing out no one is going to do it for you. Why do you expect that someone else should train you so that you can progress and make the big bucks?

          I have no specific ideas for you because I am not a lawyer and I don’t know the circumstances. Well other than being bright may not be enough. There are a lot of bright, talented, and educated people everywhere, many of which are probably also being “held down” too.

          I don’t doubt you could advance or be promoted, but thinking you are not is someone else’s fault might be the biggest impediment to that happening.

          • Anonymous says:

            By the time a hypothetical Caymanian, any Caymanian except a “first-generation Caymanian” could look like equity partner material they would have lost all semblance of who they are. Watch, you’ll see – the first “Caymanian” equity partners we get are going to be white children of influential expats, educated overseas. The simple fact of the matter is: they think it’s too good for us and do not accept the fundamental point that in the Cayman Islands, Caymanians should be profiting from this industry in substantial numbers. No, a high salary is not good enough. Somehow many Caymanian accountants have made the grade, that is no less taxing a profession to understand and get ahead in. The only difference is no regulation to force the law firms to do it. This CILPA is a sham as well – there are enough paper Caymanians to fill that board. They will choose a token real Caymanian to join them on the board who will have no influence (and they’ll close down the CBA too). Nothing will change, it will just get worse.

      • Anonymous says:

        Crazy Eh? There are these people illegally practising Cayman law all over the world with the support and assistance of a bunch of (usually) foreign nationals in the Cayman Islands. If you try to responsibly point out the issues as genuine professional concerns but it will cost you your livlihood. That is quite an obstacle. I guess the way around them will be to have them all investigated for any offences they have committed and to insist on disciplinary actions and prosecutions wherever appropriate. You can even report the issues to the insurers who believe that the people they are insuring are in fact qualified. You can also report it to overseas regulators. That is much more effective than complaining to mommy. Thanks for the suggestion!

      • Anonymous says:

        We don’t need mommy to fix it we need the government not to be corrupt and allow big firms to write their own laws!

      • Anonymous says:

        Justsayin, I’m so glad you asked. No, I was not passed over because I “could not make them as much money” although I will admit I never did buy into the mandatory padding of my time sheet. Being ethical is far more valuable to me than being rich.
        That may have been a slight problem for them but the real issue was clearly discrimination. You have not walked a day in my shoes so don’t try to diminish my experience.
        Discrimination against Caymanian lawyers is very real, it long has been and with the current LPB, it will be only make it worse. The numbers do not lie, how many Caymanian equity partners exist in the 600+ law firms in Cayman? It is not because “they could not make them as much money”, only a fool would buy into such a notion.

    • Anonymous says:

      Have you read the new law? Or do you just believe that Caymanians are inherently less capable than foreigners? Caymanians have the same ability to go to school overseas and make connections as foreigners. The new law will allow Caymanians to go and work onshore getting the same experience and connections as foreigners do now.

      So unless you believe Caymanians are simply less capable than their peers I do not see how leveling the playing field will only lead to continued “discrimination”?

  13. Anonymous says:

    CNS – who feeds you this stuff? The current law clearly states that you have to be an admitted Cayman Islands lawyer to practice Cayman Law. It has done for more than 40 years.

    • Anonymous says:

      The law does clearly state that, however the law also does not say anything about punishment or consequences for practicing without being admitted. Clearly you are not in practice or you would be aware that there are numerous onshore firms providing CI advice without CI admitted lawyers.

      • Anonymous says:

        But they are committing a criminal offence by conspiring to circumvent the Legal Practitioners Law and the Immigration Law.

      • Anonymous says:

        I am aware they are doing that. I am also aware it is against our laws. I am also aware many of our illustrious officers of the court have been assisting others to break our laws. Many of those law firms you are speaking of are owned and controlled by Cayman (although not Caymanian) lawyers.

      • Anonymous says:

        Actually the existing law confirms it to be an offence and provides for a fine. Of course, that is before anyone considers the implications under the Proceeds of Crime Law.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Very interesting I wonder how many of these articled clerks have actually read the bill in its entirety. I trust that each of these articled clerks have signed their names to this letter freely without pressure or God forbid instructions from their bosses who make millions per year while offering them ten of thousands. I hope none of those students or articled clerks who have contacted me privately but are afraid to speak out publicly about the bill signed this letter.

    • Anonymous says:

      “Contacted me privately”?! What are you, some kind of anonymous legal guru?

      Actually I think we can all guess who you are and that as ever you just made that all up about young folk contacting you for your words of wisdom.

      And clearly you too “are afraid to speak out publicly”.

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