It happens without fail.
Whenever we publish news stories about the ceremonies held at the High Court in Kingstown to welcome freshly minted lawyers to the Bar, one of two responses can be expected from some of our readers. Why are lawyers being celebrated in a manner not accorded any other profession; and aren’t there already far too many lawyers in St Vincent and the Grenadines?
These are good questions that deserve answers.
The legal profession is steeped in tradition, even down to what its members are mandated to wear while they practice. While we may question the relevance of these traditions in today’s world and especially in our Caribbean context, for the time being, practitioners must conform if they wish to be heard in court.
One of these traditions is the Bar call ceremony which is held in open court — open to public and which therefore may be reported on, as it has been for generations, in keeping with the public nature of the court.
Beyond tradition, the public Bar call is helpful to the public as it assists in distinguishing those legally authorized to practice Law from the charlatans. It is a safety mechanism, which had it been the norm for other professions, we might have been spared the danger associated with engaging the services of certain persons who set themselves up here in other professions and became very successful, only for it to come out later that the persons did not possess the qualifications they claimed to hold.
In fact, we advocate that many more professions and fields of endeavor create their own professional groupings to act in the interest of members, including holding public ceremonies to welcome new entrants.
But are there really as many lawyers in the country as it may appear? We think not. Certainly, our nationals are qualifying as lawyers in far greater numbers than in their parents’ generations, but when quarter century ago, on average, one or two new lawyers were added to the fold every year, having eight lawyers called to the Bar in a single year must seem excessive.
Valid questions have been raised about the capacity of our society to absorb so many lawyers, but this number is still fewer than the number of teachers, social scientists, doctors, nurses, media workers, chefs, mechanics, etc. who join the ranks of their respective professions each year here in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
It should be remembered though, that not everyone who qualifies as a lawyer is absorbed by a private law firm to practice before the Court. Many are absorbed by the public service, others by non-legal private sector companies to act in an advisory capacity, some migrate and others never practice as lawyers.
In any profession, there is always room at the top. Whenever there is an abundance of any commodity, the consumer benefits. We will never have too many good, ethical lawyers and SEARCHLIGHT will continue to celebrate and highlight achievement among Vincentians whenever and wherever it exists.