I am writing to express my support for the passing of the Legal Practitioners Bill. As a Caymanian partner at a local law firm, I am concerned to ensure that we pass legislation that provides a framework to support the progression of Caymanian lawyers, and protects our financial services industry. The Legal Practitioners Bill would achieve both. To miss the opportunity to pass the bill would be a set-back that Cayman cannot afford.
Passing the Legal Practitioners Bill would achieve two main things. Firstly, it would secure opportunities for Caymanian lawyers. It would do this through a set of commitments, given by law firms, in relation to the recruitment, development and progression of Caymanian lawyers. Through these commitments, the bill would provide the structure and accountability to support capable Caymanian lawyers to progress in their careers.
Secondly, the bill helps to ensure the success and stability of our financial services industry. It does this by putting Cayman in a position to achieve a satisfactory assessment in the upcoming CFATF review, and by ensuring that Cayman’s strong profile in the international markets is retained through the practice of Cayman law overseas.
I recognize the concerns raised about the practice of Cayman law overseas, and want to address those directly. Like a number of Caymanian lawyers, I benefited from practicing Cayman law overseas. I have seen first-hand how the experience gained by Caymanian lawyers overseas will be increasingly important to prepare them for management positions and leadership roles within law firms. Restricting the practice of Cayman law overseas would close off opportunities for Caymanian lawyers to develop professionally. It would also make our financial services industry less competitive. Our ability to compete with other jurisdictions is enhanced by the presence of Cayman law firms overseas, and our presence in the international markets where our clients are based has been critical to Cayman’s success and stability.
Our competitors would be delighted to see us stop practicing Cayman law overseas. It would enhance their profile in the major financial markets, weaken the Cayman brand internationally and limit our ability to compete on the global stage. The draft Legal Practitioners Bill recognizes that the practice of Cayman law overseas is important for the jurisdiction, and for Caymanian lawyers. It also recognizes that the practice of Cayman law overseas must be done in a responsible way. It does this by ensuring that the practice of Cayman law overseas is always controlled from within Cayman.
Finally, I want to make two points. Firstly, it is important that dialogue on the LPB is both constructive and well-informed. I encourage everyone to read the Legal Practitioners Bill, and to ask substantive questions about the important issues facing our jurisdiction.
Secondly, there should be no doubt that we are all on the same team. We all have a vested interest in the success of our financial services industry. Ensuring that we provide opportunities for capable Caymanian lawyers within law firms is critical to that success. A new Legal Practitioners Bill would help to secure those opportunities, and give us a platform from which to continue our success as a leading financial services jurisdiction. The approach that we take to resolve our differences on the Legal Practitioners Bill should be one that will enhance Cayman in these two areas.
I would encourage direct dialogue between the parties in an effort to pass a Legal Practitioners Bill that is good for Caymanians and our financial services industry.
David Collins, Partner, Walkers law firm