Clerkships out

The government will approach law firms in the Cayman Islands to try to convince them to give positions to Caymanian law graduates who have been unable to find jobs as articled clerks.

Lawmakers questioned why 11 Caymanian law graduates were unable to find positions as articled clerks at local law offices when 368 non-Caymanian attorneys had been admitted to the Cayman Islands Bar over the past six years.

In response to questions from George Town MLA Alden McLaughlin in a Legislative Assembly meeting on Thursday, 9 December, Attorney General Sam Bulgin said that of the 550 current members of the Bar, 368 non-Caymanian lawyers had been admitted since 1 January, 2005, and that 11 Caymanians – all graduates of the Cayman Islands Law School over the past several years – were currently seeking clerkships. Asked by Mr. McLaughlin why these new lawyers could not find positions as articled clerks, the Attorney General said there were a variety of reasons, but mostly he had been told by firms and individual lawyers that they were unable to take on new clerks due to the difficult economic climate.

Mr. Bulgin said efforts were being made by the government “to make appeals to those who operate these firms and lawyers generally to try to accommodate these persons who are seeking to be articled”. The Attorney General pointed out that since 2004, 14 people had been articled in his Chambers at which there are currently three articled clerks.

He added that he had been privy to several discussions about efforts to try to get attorneys to provide training for clerks. “It is regrettable if pressure has to be brought to bear on them,” he said. Mr. Bulgin added that there had been a long-standing policy in government for entry level positions in the legal profession to be reserved for Caymanians. That has crystallised into a situation where persons with less than three years post-qualification experience in general are not provided with work permits to practise in the Cayman Islands, because that is the entry level position which ought to be able to be used to accommodate Caymanians,” he said. Independent MLA Ezzard Miller requested that the Attorney General ask the business staff planning board to prevent overseas lawyers with less than 10 years’ experience getting work permits until the 11 Caymanians found articles.

Premier McKeeva Bush said he would ensure that the new legal practitioner’s bill would address the articling of Caymanian clerks.

He said he would bring the government’s authority to bear on the issue, adding, “When we have that many people coming in, don’t tell me there is not enough space for 11.”

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