How many attorneys?

The number of attorneys practising in the Cayman Islands became a topic for further research after the ceremonial opening of Grand Court last week.

According to senior member of the Cayman Bar, Ramon Alberga QC, there were 363 attorneys on the roll of those licensed to practise here in 2005. To that number he added the 15 counsel in the Legal Department and came up with a total of 378.

Chief Justice Anthony Smellie, in the course of his remarks, referred to 2005 as the year of the largest single annual increase in admissions ever recorded.

There were 70 general admissions, up from 49 in 2004, and 77 limited admissions, up from 39 in 2004, the Chief Justice reported. Limited admission is the term used for attorneys who come to Cayman for a specific case rather than general practice.

As a result, the Chief Justice said, there are now 472 attorneys generally admitted to practise in the Cayman Islands.

After the formalities of the court opening were concluded, there were several discussions of attorney numbers and agreement that some double-checking needs to be done.

It was noted for example, that a computerised list issued in early 2005 contains at least three duplications – three attorneys listed at two different law firms. It was also pointed out that several attorneys on the roll may have left the jurisdiction.

Mr. Alberga in his remarks provided other figures for an historical perspective.

He noted, for example, that when he did his first case in Cayman in 1964, there was one judge and eight attorneys.

In 1975, he said, Cayman had 35 attorneys. In 1995, the number had grown to 163.

Using his figure of 378, and Cayman’s approximate population of 40,000, Mr. Alberga said these islands have one attorney for every 106 people — perhaps the highest per capita rate in the world.

The growth in the number of attorneys reflected the great growth of legal business in this jurisdiction, he indicated.

All will be well, Mr. Alberga joked, as long as the population of attorneys does not exceed the population of non-attorneys.