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Lawyers: SVG not saturated with legal practitioners

Lawyers: SVG not saturated with legal practitioners

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Are there too many lawyers in St Vincent and the Grenadines?

Is there sufficient work to sustain what seems, to the casual onlooker, to be a large number of legal practitioners being called to the Bar in recent times?{{more}}

While the public has one view, the lawyers SEARCHLIGHT spoke to see no difficulty with the numbers being added to their ranks.

According to records obtained from the High Court, in 2010 alone, 25 lawyers were admitted to practice as Barristers and Solicitors in this country. This is in addition to nine called in 2009,10 in 2008 and 15 in 2007.

Between 1971 and 1979, only 33 lawyers were called, while 34 were called in the eighties and 75 in the 1990s. In comparison, 235 were called between 2000 and 2010.

Despite these numbers, there are approximately only 112 active barristers in the country. Many of those who have been called are practising in other jurisdictions; a few have died.

One of those lawyers, former Grenadian Prime Minister Maurice Bishop, was slain in 1979. He was called to the local Bar on August 25, 1976.

President of the local Bar Association Kay Bacchus-Browne welcomes the new entrants to her profession.

“I definitely do not see it as a problem, but, just like any other profession, the best would rise to the top…” Bacchus-Browne said.

She noted that Law is one profession where persons can become more independent.

“Everybody wants to be independent and Law is one of these professions whereby people can see their independence easily,” she said.

Bacchus-Browne, who was called to the Bar on October 22, 1976, is also of the view that the new entrants are not a threat to seasoned lawyers, but rather serve as competition in the profession.

“…I hope that it does not cause standards to fall because of the numbers coming in,” said Bacchus-Browne.

The outstanding lawyer admitted that some of these young lawyers find it hard to find employment with established law firms, because of space and the economic situation that has affected some firms.

Stanley ‘Stalky’ John, practising lawyer since January 11, 1978, refuses to accept the notion that there are too many lawyers and welcomes even more.

“You never hear persons saying there are too many teachers, there are too many nurses or doctors. I wonder why it appears that there are so many lawyers?” John asked.

However, John noted that it should not be assumed that some lawyers are not getting work because one does not hear about them after they are called to the Bar.

Rather, he said, it could be that they have branched off into other avenues that the law provides.

“The law provides one with an excellent and comprehensive platform on which to participate in various aspects of society. Being a lawyer, one doesn’t necessarily have to be in court, because there are various aspects of law.

The law acts as a tool that equips one to function in such a wide array of occupations and other pursuits,” John explained.

He said the new lawyers bring a tremendous amount of energy to the Bar and “I welcome the increase in numbers of young attorneys to the Bar, providing they bring the appropriate attitude,” he said.

Carlos James, who was called to the Bar on December 7, 2010, also disagrees with claims that the legal fraternity is being saturated.

“Since I’ve been called to the Bar, I have been receiving numerous calls and my desk is filled with work. So there is definitely enough work for lawyers here in St Vincent,” James said.

According to the young barrister, there is always room at the table because law is a service.

“…It will never come to a point where this profession is saturated, because the services of lawyers are always in demand,” he said.

James, also a trained Journalist, said in order to make a name for oneself in the legal profession, a certain “flair” must be added to a young lawyer’s character.

“There are some lawyers who just go to school and then join the profession, while there are others who would have experience in other professions, which helped to harness their inter-personal and communication skills and have a roundedness to them, which gives them a stronger outlook in terms of having a career at the Bar,” James stated.

James said gone are the days when only persons of a certain ilk were being called to the Bar, but in recent times, persons from different socio-economic backgrounds are standing as lawyers.

“We now have young persons from different backgrounds bringing something new to the profession and that is refreshing,” James said.

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