Cayman’s legal profession has completed its changing of the guard.
The Cayman Islands Legal Practitioners Association, a new representative body formed by the merger of the Cayman Islands Law Society and the Caymanian Bar association, has completed its first election.
The new council president will be David Collins, and he will be supported by secretary Wanda Ebanks and treasurer Erik Bodden. The other members of the council will be Richard Barton, Cline Glidden, David Ritch and Alasdair Robertson, the former president of the Cayman Islands Law Society.
Collins, who is a partner at Walkers, said Sunday that the association has 546 members, which comprise about 80% of the attorneys in Cayman. Seventy percent of the membership voted, and every position on the council was contested, said Collins, leading to a body that can truly represent its constituents and community.
“The elected council has a clear mandate,” said Collins of the new CILPA hierarchy. “We’ve never that sort of turnout in Cayman before. Clearly, there’s a lot of excitement in the profession.”
The Cayman Islands Law Society and Caymanian Bar association elected to merge in October of 2018, and CILPA will take on the task of supervising and representing the disparate interests of the Cayman law community. Five members of the elected council will represent firms that have more than 10 lawyers employed there, and two members of the council will represent firms with 10 or fewer lawyers.
CILPA has been designated as the anti-money laundering supervisor for attorneys, a role found lacking by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force evaluation of Cayman’s anti-money laundering regime.
Over the next two years, CILPA will focus on the development of its supervisory and representative capabilities, including supporting smaller law firms and sole practitioners, the association said.
In the short term, that means finding facilities and staff to begin the hard work of monitoring the legal community and making sure that all firms, large and small, are represented fairly.
“Under the old structure, the members were firms. Under the new one, the lawyers are members,” said Collins on Sunday. “It’s more representative. It gives a voice to individuals who feel they can participate in that capacity. We’re more reflective of the profession. There’s a lot of work to be done, and the success of the association will be in part driven by getting the members involved.”
CILPA will set about finding a way to make resources available to smaller firms for regulation and compliance, and it will contribute to consultation in the legislative process. Cayman is still seeking to pass a new Legal Practitioners Bill, and CILPA will play a role in advising the Legislative Assembly.
The senior members of the association – the attorneys who have experience of working with the Bar association and the law society – will be integral in advising and shaping the future of CILPA. And the younger attorneys will play a role in forming the infrastructure and charting a course for the future.
“CILPA is going to be dynamic and inclusive,” said Ebanks, a partner at Maples. “I’ve been a lawyer for 28 years, and this is probably as close as you’re going to get to truly representative of the profession.”
Barton, one of the council members who represents Cayman’s smaller firms, said that law students will have an opportunity to get involved in representing their profession from an early age. He said it is important to balance the needs of the larger firms with the requirements of their smaller brethren.
If CILPA had not mandated that at least two council members came from smaller firms, it would run the risk of the larger firms completely overshadowing the smaller firms in the electoral process.
“The profession is reinvigorated. The climate now is reflective of optimism and high hopes,” he said. “Not only do I think it’s fair representation, it’s an opportunity for us to ensure representation.”