Lawmaker wants 'non-legal' distinction between 'Caymanians'

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. 

Mr. Connolly

Mr. Connolly


  1. Mr. Connolly your push for caymanians in the legal profession is a great endeavor and I wish you every success with it, but I’m a bit confused why you choose just one profession? There is discrimination across the board for caymanians in every field with the exception of bar tendering and waitressing. Why are you not pushing also for the hospitality, banking, construction, IT, etc.
    Mr. Connolly for the record as a caymanian we need protection across the board.

  2. The reality is that you would need to apply this same standard to every industry in the Cayman Islands in order to see the complete picture of what is happening in the local workforce.

    There is so much skulduggery taking place in the Cayman Islands and the truth of the matter is that none of our so-called political representatives want to actually do anything meaningful about the problems.

  3. I agree with Jackson, I think that Government should not be making laws for one type of professionals, and a other for different professional. Mr Connolly I think that you should be talking about equal rights laws for everyone in the labor forces, instead of favoritism to a chosen few. Mr Connolly please don’t be given the work that Immigration is supposed to do, to the employer to do , or you may be ending up with lawyers that doesn’t know the British/Cayman laws. I think that everyone should be properly vetted by the Immigration Department of the Cayman Islands if a work permit is required.

  4. What heightened level of prejudice and hypocrisy!

    The very same bias that Mr. Connolly is proposing to reduce, is the same bias he is perpetuating against his own people. If he is concerned about the well-being of ALL Caymanians, and Cayman in general, why just limit this scrutiny to his highly paid colleagues and friends in the legal profession? Why not extend this concern to all sectors including domestic, construction, landscaping etc?

    Some humans only see and hear what is in our best interest. I have no issue with protecting jobs for Caymanians, but when persons with ulterior motives try to use this as a means to further their personal interest, it wreaks of hypocrisy.

  5. The problem in these islands is it appears no-one actually obeys the Immigration Law, which already provides the protection is it was only enforced correctly.

    There should be no more new permits grants until every Caymanian is employed. Continue the renewals to allow replacements to be trained as per the law for all jobs. Then you will not have the problems we are facing here.

    It is time to stop the descrimation against Caymanians by Caymanians.

  6. There are so many subtle subcategories and requirements for every single job. It is counterproductive to impose heavy handed bureaucratic restrictions and requirements.

    Businesses need to be able to recruit the best person for the job regardless of whether they as Caymanian or Canadian, Black or White, Man or Woman…

    Is a Doctor just a Doctor – It is absurd that the Hospital might be forced to give a job to a Neurologist (because they are a Caymanian) when they NEEDED to employ an Oncologist!

    Cayman is a small island with only 50-60,000 people, The Doctor in the example above may take 25 years to see the variety of cases he would see working for a couple of years in say Miami… He could then bring that experience back to Cayman, which is a much better result for both the Hospital and its Customers (Patients).

    The quality of an employee is about their character, skills and experience and not what is printed in the ”Nationality” section of their passport.

    The passport should be used instead with a plane ticket to go out and gain real world experience in the rest of the real world – THAT is what will make them attractive to employers.

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