We write in response to the article, “MLA: Lawyers law must address Caymanian hiring,” published in the Sept. 14 edition of the Cayman Compass as we wish to respond to Mr. Winston Connolly’s call for a commitment by Cayman Islands law firms to hire, retain and promote Caymanian lawyers to full participation in firms in Cayman and those practicing Cayman Islands law overseas.
The Cayman Islands Law Society is the professional association that represents the entire private sector legal profession of the Cayman Islands. Membership is open to those who are admitted as Cayman Islands attorneys-at-law and the society currently has over 400 members.
The society wholeheartedly supports the underlying principles of Mr. Connolly’s “Statement of Goals” which we note broadly reflect the terms of a commitment paper sponsored by the Cayman Islands Law Society and voluntarily adopted by all of the larger law firms in 2012.
We believe the profession does have a strong commitment to attracting talented Caymanians at an early stage and to retaining them throughout their career. In fact the statistics show the Cayman Islands doubled the annual number of articled clerkships between 2008 and 2014 despite a global recession. This is in stark contrast to countries such as the U.K., Ireland and Canada where training opportunities dropped substantially over the same period. Nearly 100 Caymanians have been admitted as attorneys-at-law since 2008, the vast majority trained by the larger firms.
Firms already provide scholarships and internships as well as the mentoring and training measures which will be needed for new lawyers to develop the skills required to make it to the top of what is an incredibly demanding profession.
The draft Legal Practitioners Bill which is being worked on currently will provide a framework for the regulation of the profession inside and outside of the jurisdiction. Mr. Connolly should be pleased to see that the ethos of the Legal Practitioners Bill is also aligned with his Statement of Goals in that it will encapsulate guidelines for Cayman-based law firms in providing Caymanians access to the legal profession, the training and development of Caymanian attorneys and the opportunities for career progression for Caymanian lawyers.
The Cayman Islands Law Society looks forward to continuing working with government and the Caymanian Bar Association in further formalizing these policies through the Legal Practitioners Bill.