Associations say Caymanian lawyers are being hired
There should be a “non-legal distinction” when it comes to hiring Caymanian lawyers, George Town MLA Winston Connolly said Wednesday, in response to questions regarding his recent public push for greater hiring of Caymanians in the legal profession.
“Under the law, a Caymanian is a Caymanian is a Caymanian, period,” Mr. Connolly said. “However, for parents of the Truman Bodden Law School graduates, Caymanian law students, young articled clerks, non-work permit lawyers and the government, it is extremely important that there is a non-legal distinction … so that it can be seen whether the commitments imposed by the Immigration Law and business plans are being followed by firms.”
One way to do so, Mr. Connolly suggests, would be asking law firms to state how many of their lawyers began their career in Cayman as articled clerks.
“My belief … is that it is necessary to consider this to ascertain if Caymanian graduates are being advanced by the law firms in the Cayman Islands, or if the Caymanians represented in such firms at the partner level are purely or predominantly reflective of former work permit holders who have been granted status,” Mr. Connolly said.
At its annual gala earlier this month, the Caymanian Bar Association noted that it represents roughly one-third of the legal profession in the Cayman Islands.
Association President Abraham Thoppil noted that more than 220 Caymanian attorneys are now members of the group. Only Caymanians who have been admitted to the Bar in the islands are eligible to become members of the association, Mr. Thoppil said.
In addition, census data from 2010, which looked at the broader issue of Caymanian employment within the financial services industry found that industry to be dominated more than two-to-one by Caymanians.
“This industry comprises the largest employer of Caymanians, but accounts for only 5.9 percent of non-Caymanian employment,” the report indicated. “There are around 45 non-Caymanians for every 100 Caymanians in this industry.”
Neither the census data nor the Caymanian Bar Association differentiates regarding when someone received Caymanian status.
“It is clearly important that Caymanian youth have progression opportunities and that granting of status to work permit holders does not cloud that assessment or legal imperative under the current Immigration Law and Regulations,” Mr. Connolly said.
“The rationale behind any diversity initiatives is to change the composition of the persons who make recruitment and management decisions, because people have been shown in published studies to have inherent bias towards recruiting and promoting in ‘their own image’ and someone who was not Caymanian when they graduated law school may, because of that, be more supportive of foreign graduates than Cayman Islands graduates, notwithstanding they are legally both Caymanian after a period of time.
“The distinction of using people who were Caymanian at the time of doing articles is simply to answer the very important question: At what rate are law firms promoting [those persons who did their articles in Cayman] in line with what is being done in other professions, such as the accounting profession in the Cayman Islands, or are they simply waiting until work permit holders are granted Caymanian status to do so?”
The Cayman Islands Law Society noted some statistics in a recent letter to the Cayman Compass that addressed some of the issues to which Mr. Connolly referred.
The law society said the statistics show the Cayman Islands doubled the annual number of articled clerkships between 2008 and 2014, during a global recession. The society pointed out that nearly 100 Caymanians have been admitted as attorneys-at-law since 2008.
“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 society noted in its statement.