MLA proposes articles at LA for law students

| 01/05/2012

P5270036 (219x300).jpg(CNS): The government is considering establishing an internship programme at the Legislative Assembly that can equate to articles for graduates of the Cayman Law School’s professional practice course and at the same time fill the need at the country’s parliament for professional researchers. Government offered its support to the idea, which was brought as a private member’s motion filed by backbench UDP member Dwayne Seymour. However, the opposition leader warned that it would be unlikely that the House could offer students the rigours required of articles that would be enough to secure them work in the community.

The Bodden Town member who brought the motion said there were many students who were facing difficulties finding a place as an article clerk and the LA could provide a new option where the students could work as researchers and library assistants.

He said some law students had been looking for several years for articles and the LA could be a way of building credit. Seymour called on the Legal Advisory Council to develop a programme that would meet the requirements of the practical experience that law students need to undertake before they can qualify. While Seymour said it wasn’t the full solution to the problem, he thought it might help some students.

Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin, who is himself a lawyer, said the problem of graduates from the law school not being able to get articles was a long standing one. He said that the standard of those who have come through the local law school was high yet but even with more than five hundred lawyers practicing in the jurisdiction, where partners earned millions of dollars every year,local students still could not find a place as the law firms claim they cannot afford article programmes.

“I am hearing there is a move afoot to abolish the article programme altogether on the basis that it is too expensive and resistance on the part of a number of firms to allow students to pursue articles,” he said, noting that this was of great concern.

He said that the LA might not be able to offer a solution for students, noting the variety of legal experience that articles were supposed to offer. Giving an anecdotal example, he said one of his constituents had completed her articles in the government’s own legal department but had been told she had to do them again when she joined a private firm as she simply had not gained enough experience.

Although they might provide a much needed service for the members of the Legislative Assembly, he described the credit that graduates were likely to gain from working there was so “infinitesimal” that it would count for nought within the local law firms. Nevertheless, McLaughlin said he would support the motion, even though it was unlikely that many local firms would recognise the time spent as a researcher in the LA.

“I don’t want to create the impression that somehow this is really going to assist those that are trying to get qualified as lawyers,” he said. “Experienced gained in the House is unlikely to be given much weight in the private sector.”

He said that what needed to be addressed was why the rich firms here were still able to say they cannot afford to take people on to do articles. McLaughlin said he believed the firms in Cayman were under an obligation to give local students an opportunity to qualify and it was ridiculous that they claimed they could not afford to do it. Ggovernment should make them do it, he added.

The premier confirmed that government was going to accept the motion and said there was no risk that standards would be undermined as the goal was to offer credit towards articles and there would be no diluting of the issue when it came to the standards of training for lawyers.

Category: Politics

Comments (53)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Is this the best that the presenter of this motion could come up with?  I think this idea is ludicrous and should be squashed immediately.  The LA is not the place for internship of law students.  We have enough law firms on this island that should be made to take on Caymanian students for internship.  The firms make billions of dollars from this economy and should be giving back something to our people instead of taking all the time.  We want our students to be as experienced in legal matters and afforded the opportunity to qualify themselves as any other nationality.  

    I think this is just an easy way out to continue with relying on the work permit revenues and  keeping our students at a disadvantage.  The government is obligated to come up with better solutions than that.

    In my humble opinion the only reason this proposal should go ahead would be if at least 50% of each MLA salary was designated to the expenses of these students.  I bet you bobo, then they'll think twice about that idea!! 

     

  2. Anonymous says:

    joke joke sure does know a thing or two about the court system!

  3. Seymour Butts says:

    How much is that voter in the window? I do hope that voter is for sale….

  4. Anonymous says:

    This will probably go the same way as the vocational school government was supposed to set up

    • Anonymous says:

      John John, this is a good move to keep the young grads employed.

      However, the Premier has let the students down again in making empty promises a year ago that he would mandate law firms to hire our Cayman grads from the law school. Instead he is bowing down to deep pockets letting them get away scott free! HE NEVER KEEPS HIS WORD AS LONG AS CAYMANIANS WOULD REAP THE BENEFIT! Yet he bends over backwards to pander to and please anyone with a pocket full of money, at least $750,000! 

      At that point he thends hands the country over to them at all costs to the citizens. While rich people are given millions in dollars of concessions, Caymanians are deprived of even making an honorable living in their own country.

      Why Caymanians namely West Bayers continue to vote for this man namedMcKeeva Bush,is beyong my comrehension, something has got to be seriously wrong with anone voting for this Premier keeping him in office.

       

  5. Anonymous says:

    Under this plan will Mac be the CHIEF chief Justice?

  6. Anonymous says:

    What does Dwayne Seymour know about anything?????  What a stupid idea……after you get through law school you go sit in the LA and listen to people like him that can't even speak properly or worse you get to lhear from the Mac that never finished high school?   Thats an aspiration!!!!!  Sit down and shut up already Dwayne.  Only your government would ever entertain something so stupid and backwards.    

    • Bodden Towner says:

      22:58 and who are you to talk about Dwayne Seymour.  I see the reason why you can be an undercover cup of Tea, to critize Dwayne in such a way.  Dispictable, angry, selfish nature  to be so mean to someone whohas done you absolutely nothing.   You should be ashamed of yourself if you have children.  Be nice, and stop being so darn bad to your neigbour.  And your neighbout is not someone living next door but can be just a friend.  Be nice for the love ofFamily and friends.

  7. Anonymous says:

    This is simply a not very well veiled pathetic attempt at pandering for votes. Imagine a world with a legislative assembly focused on real solutions such as cutting spending and corruption, working with the private sector so it can flourish and Caymanianising the civil service. 

  8. TennisAce says:

    Everyone is ignoring the elephant in the room.  It is not the cost of articles that are prohibitive to these law firms.  It is the quality of the candidates.   No law firm on this Island is going to take persons who barely scraped through on their PPC and who barely scraped through the degree programme.  The law firms on Island want the best of the best. 

    As to those who talk about the millions in profits that these law firms make.  When you factor in that these partners have been at the Bar for upwards of 20-30 years, why should they not be making money?  In addition to paying salaries to articled clerks, law firms have to also provide for the support staff that they employ, many of whom are Caymanians.  

    Every time an issue comes up about the workplace people talk about profits.  Do you people think that businesses that operate here are in the business of not making money?  Companies are in the business of making money and if that means that they will not employ law students who barely scraped through law school, then I am sure that there are some enterprising Caymanian law firms out there, you know the ones who are in the business of not making money, who can employ said clerks and offer them articles. 

    As the first poster said up top, maybe what needs to happen is that the Legal Practitioners Bill needs to address these issues.  In Jamaica, young professional lawyers no longer have to go through articles.  The Law was changed and all practitioners are now known as Attorneys-at-law.  Once they have completed the 3 year degree programme, they then have to apply to Norman Manley where they 2 years (which equates to the same 2 years of articles), they do their CLE and thank you maam they are now lawyers. 

    Perhaps if the Law was changed here to abandon articles and let the students remain in school an additional 2 years and then be called attorneys-at-law, that might take away the pressure.  It would also allow the law of natural selection to take its course.  You know the ones where those who have done well pass, and those who don't are given a failing grade. 

  9. Anonymous says:

    A candidate with the required skills for private practice at the sharp end here will have no difficulty getting proper articles.  This LA internship will serve only as a black mark, where the CILS currently serves as a grey mark.  It will make it even easier to weed out the weak, about whom so much fuss is being made in proposing the initiative.

    • good one says:

      Why is CILS considered a grey mark? I live on island and am considering studying law, so just wanted to know.

      Thanks,

      • Anonymus says:

        Because the UK institution with which it is affiliated and through whom the degree is granted is a second tier institution. Sure you can find worse. But if you're good you can find better. Hence the problem. (If you're in the UK and you're good, you go somewhere else. If you're in Cayman and you can't go somewhere else because of costs or family commitments, then you go to the CI Law School and have to work that much harder outside of class to prove yourself. Thats just the way it is.)

      • Anonymous says:

        Because it's easy and you get way more access to the academics than you could ever dream of in a real university.  It's an artificial environment.  Even the very best graduates to come out of it tend to drift off during their first years of practice.  Seeing the name on a CV tells the reader that the student was either a) not able to afford to go away (in which case why didn't they get a scholarship and were they too lazy to apply and if they did apply why didn't they get it) or b) not smart enough (in which case he or she won't cut it in practice).  It says that you haven't benefitted from a true university experience, that is to say, learning how to deal with people you don't like, how to cope with the rules of a big society, realising you are nobody and have to prove yourself, bad weather, bad traffic, daily adversity, etc.  In other words 'how to get on in life'.  The worst is when you see 'University of Liverpool' and you know that the person studied locally but has a chip on their shoulder about it, and automatically assumes you will think less of them for it.  

        • Anonymous says:

          05/02/2012 – 10:26  You laid it out well but you forgot the part about those who get their micky mouse degree and then use it, along with political maneuvering, to convince the powers that be to place them in positions that they are not qualified or experienced to be in. Kissing-up, smiling and packaging the right words in speeches might be what it takes to get in a key position for bragging rights but it is a far cry from properly functioning in it. Sad what is happening to these beloved islands.

      • Anonymous says:

        You sound like a nice person but I'm afraid I must say: if you have to ask, you are already at a disadvantage.

      • Anonymous says:

        Have you not heard of OxBridge? It is because CILS is a Liverpool and not and OxBridge degree.

        Colonialism at its best my friend.

        • Dick Shaughneary says:

          My guess is that the world of tertiary education was not suited to this poster.

      • Anonymous says:

        My sweet, let me spell it out for you: "C-a-y-m-a-n    I-s-l-a-n-d-s   L-a-w   S-c-h-o-o-l".  Get it? If not, you just  write back and let me know and Iwill see how else I could break it down. for you. Don't pay any attention to those other rude people on here!

  10. Brief Encounter says:

    No No No's post made my blood boil.  The law firms already take on a few charity cases on articles every year at great cost.  I have never seen anyone with any realistic future as a lawyer be denied articles and in all the news stories about this issue I have never once seen a deserving case.  A law degree is not a passport to a legal career.  It is necessary but never sufficient.  Some people really need to understand that. 

  11. Anonymous says:

    The thing is, there are a hell of a lot more ethical and dignified professions to persue than lawyer or polititan. Sheesh.

    • Anonymous says:

      Please don't class lawyers with politicians. Lawyers are among the most ethical of professionals. Certainly I would trust a fellow lawyer far more than the average Joe any day of the week. 

  12. Anonymous says:

    At least they get called to the bar!

     

    • Anonymous says:

      and with a little practical experience would be qualified to serve drinks at one – but that is about it.

      • Anonymous says:

        Oh yea?  Go and see how many with the substandard CILS degree are now sitting in big positions, lording it over you with inflated egos hidden behind their fake smile and "nicey nicey" demeanour!

  13. Anonymous says:

    More UDP blah, blah, blah. I also have a hard time taking Joke Joke serious, and I don't always agree with the opposition either.

    That being said, you may want to pay attention to Alden on this one, after all The Opposition Leader is a Lawyer by trade;  methinks he knows of what he speaks.

  14. Standing in glass house says:

    I wish they would have gotten the input from those of us who have articled before recently or those of us who are currently articling.  How is doing a stint as a researcher in the LA going to prepare you for practice?  Articles generally consist of 6 month seats in 3 areas of practice after which time the articled clerk is offered a position in the area he or she wishes to specialize.  During articles you are also taught the business of a law firm which includes, time management, billing, marketing, management of support staff, meeting targets and many other 'non-billable' yet required skills.

    If this program is implemented, my warning is only to those law students who think this route will prepare them for practice.  You may be doing yourself a disservice because at the end you will be a magnificent researcher but you will not have incorporated a company, or written an article on the Fiduciary Duties of Directors, or learned how to meet targets monthly, how to prepare an engagement letter or advise on the winding up of a fund and these, amongst others, are what you will gain from doing articles with a law firm. 

    If you 'article' with the LA will you make yourself more marketable to law firms?  I don't think its fair that someone who completed articles should have to re-do them though.  Once you article thatshould be it.  If the law firm wanted her to train as a Junior Associate in a particular practice area where she would still be billable that sounds fair because private practice and legal dept are worlds apart especially if the trainee did primarily criminal or family at legal and then moved to corporate or litigation for a private firm.

    I really wish the government would speak to the people on the ground before making these suggestions.  Dwayne knows squat about the studying and training involved and Alden qualified how long ago?  Things have changed why not get the input from those of us who have recently done it or are currently doing it?  Oh I forgot, because I cannot guarantee I will vote for you. 

    Articles are hard to get and hard to complete for a reason.  Not everyone who obtains a law degree wants to be or should be an attorney. That's a hard pill to swallow but it is reality.  You need more than a law degree there are other qualities required.  I am Caymanian and I have no social connections and I got articled just by sending out my applications and going into interviews.  I agree that firms cannot claim they cant afford it when they earn millions in profits.  Articled Clerks are billable and although you are considered an overhead you do bring in some money in fees and paying your meagre salary is not going to adversely affect the firms ability to function. 

    The proposed Legal Practitioners Bill has some good points in that it makes scholarships mandatory and articles mandatory for scholarship recipients.  Why not give these proposals a chance to work before initiating a researchers type role, or is this a last ditch attempt to get votes?  What is being proposed better suits a law student not a person who has completed academic training and needs the practical to complete their training and prepare them for practice. 

    Articled clerks will tell you they met with their principal often during articles who guided their training and ensured they got exposed to many different areas of practice.  Who in the LA is going to serve as principal to an articled clerk who is a researcher?  Come on, stop assuming that your own Caymanian people cannot qualify under the same terms as our expatriate counterparts.  Offering me a researchers role in the LA is a slap in my face and a slap in any prospective article clerks face, I don't need an easier route because I am smart, articulate, hard working and I know my SH%T and so do those who articled with me and those who are articling now. 

    Stop using this articles issue as a political ball to bounce back and forth to keep yourselves relevant.  Focus on the Legal Practitioners Bill and its proposals and drop the condescending crap about articles in the LA because that will not prepare any articled clerk for practice.

    • Anonymous says:

      Maybe that could help them qualify as Support Lawyers in a large law firm?  I see where one law firm recently had an expatriate one get called to the Bar.

      What is needed to help the process is a Legal Aid Clinic run by the Law School where it would be mandatory for the students in the final stage to gain experience under the supervision of lecturers and volunteer lawyers. The Legal Practice law should be changed to require local lawyers to do pro bono work at the Clinic for so many hours per year and schedule developed to rotate them. With 600 lawyers practicing here that should not be a proble.

  15. Plumbago says:

    Please tell me which law firm will hirethem after their training at the LA.  ? Steve McField's?

  16. Anonymous says:

    only in cayman……classic wonderland stuff….

  17. Anonymous says:

    Maybe the articles fairy will wave his magic wand and presto everyone can be a lawyer.

  18. No No No says:

     

    This is going to do more harm than good! This gives the already irresponsible Law firms more ammunition to not offer our legal students articles. Students who article at a proper law firm spend several months working (training) in each of the major areas of the Law such as Trusts, Private Equity, Corporate, Property, Commercial etc there is no way the Government can offer these students experience in any of those areas simply because the government is not in that business. 

    The solutions are simple, someone needs to have the interests of our Caymanians at heart and go to these firms and insist that they train our legal students or risk losing work permits. It is ridiculous for the Government to take this position and bend over backwards to let these firms get away with not living up to their responsibilities. 

    Some of the Partners in these firms take home in excess of $400,000 a quarter (personally), this is just another instance of our Government failing to stand up for our people and being way to accommodating.

    Why hasn't the Caymanian Bar Association spoken up and made representations to the Governement, stop this joke of a motion and attack the problem at its source, tell these greedy law firms they must train our legal students or risk losing some of their foreign work force. 

    If you do not stand for something you will fall for anything.

     

    • Anonymous says:

      what does their paycheck have to do with anything!! you cant force a firm to hire someone they believe is not suitable to practise law within their firm or who they believe will be a poor fit within their firm.  I am Caymanian and a partner in a firm.  We have excellent qualified Caymanians (and yes born Caymanians) and we hire persons on a permit only where we are satisfied they are suitably qualified with the relevant experience AND they will be a good fit for our firm.  I have no idea why anyone would think that we should be forced to hire someone, Caymanian or not, who we do not feel will be a suitable fit within our firm.  This is really all about politics and not steeped in any form of reality.  it is also clear that if you do hire just to provide articles and then not employ them as a lawyer, this also brings resentment and bitterness.  This is not a communist state folks (at least not yet)! 

      • Anonymous says:

        How are you defining “Caymanian” and how are you defining ” partner”?

        • Anonymous says:

          This is exactly what i'm concerned about!  I just want to work with someone who will turn up, give it their best in their job and help to make it a good work environment.  I work with a lot of expats and a lot of caymanians and have nothing but good to say about all of those that i work with in our office. What I dont need, is to work with a headbobbin' finger waggin 'who you tink you is – plane brought you here, pain brought me here' person.  I dont want to work in a hostile environment caused by an expat or a caymanian.  And btw i find it ironic that some of you that go on and on about being caymanian, cant seem to find it appropriate to marry a caymanian. You lose credibility with me. so as Jack Nicolson said, dont sell crazy here, we are already stocked up, thanks very much!

          • Anonymous says:

            You miss the point. The fact is that in recent years almost no Caymanians have become partners in major law firms. Those that are made partner are expatriates who may then become Caymanian. Local people are being excluded, and it ain’t cos of attitude or aptitude.

            • Anonymous says:

              yes i guess i did miss the point.  at least one of those persons looking for articles has had numerous incidents with their employerS (caymanian and expat alike ) in the past but is Caymanian.  So if i understand this correctly, the person MUST be employed by a firm for articles, then employed as a lawyer and then promoted to partnership within one of the large firms (lets face it they really ideally want partnership in the large money earning firms)?  Because if the employer cannot use their own criteria to determine who fits best in their firm and who they want to employ and who they want to enter into partnership with, then apparently the only criteria that can be used is being Caymanian. And lets be clear, you have to hear what the Caymanians think about some of those persons seeking articles…they certainly wouldnt employ them, let alone stop to say hello for too long if possible!  So lets not lower the bar ( no pun intended!).  I know a lot of excellent Cayman lawyers, students, articled clerks and they are all employed and doing well…not all of them have had wonderful experiences in the larger firms but then again if you talk with some of the expats they havent had a fun time either within some of the larger firms.  Thats just the way it is in business.  it had nothing to do with being caymanian, expat or black or white!

          • Anonymous says:

            Also, just how “Caymanian” are some ofthese shouty people? They go on about “indigenous” and “true-born”, but their parentage or grandparentage is frequently “foreign” – often Jamaican.

            Truth is, guys, 200 years ago Cayman was all but empty. We’re all expats: it’s just a question of timing. So stop squealing about your entitlements just because you or your family got here earlier than others and get with the program.

            • Anonymous says:

              All Caymanians are Caymanians. However, some Caymanians are from here. Others came and became Caymanian. In that latter group are many who were supposed to be training existing Caymanians as a contition of staying. Some didn’t. Some lied.

      • Well says:

         

        Unfortunately there are occasions when the "suitable" candidate is assessed not on academics and grades but purely on other criteria such as:

        1. Nationality and or level of national pride (Non Caymanian is better, less pride always good)

        2. How Outspoken they are (less is better)

        3. Popularity with other Caymanians (Less is better)

        4. Willingness to circumvent local laws such as the Immigration & Labour Law (again more is better)

        5. Willingness to accept less pay, less benefits than Expat counterparts who actually do not have comparable qualifications and experience.

        A Caymanian who passes this test can always be successful, but let a Caymanian with high standards, who loves Cayman, and wants to see other Caymanians become successful try to get ahead based on their hard work, academics and qualifications and they suddenly become a threat and are eliminated. Please do not argue this as I have lived it and I know many examples that have experienced it for them. 

        This issue is not just about getting the best of the best, I have seen countless "Good" Caymanian law graduates refused articles and some where refused simply because they supported the wrong political party!

        Please stop making excuses for some of these greedy Partners they know damn well what they are doing. 

         

        • Anonymous says:

          Thank you! Well said.

        • Anonymous says:

          Maybe they were just rubbish lawyers. You too?

        • Joe B says:

          Thank you for the usual "I am not the boss or ever will be but let me tell you how to run a successful business in Cayman" speech.  Please stop making excuses for those who cannot seem to rise to the top of anything by themselves.  Those who are good at their jobs get the jobs.  Those who are not get a job with CIG.  End of story.

      • Anonymous says:

        You can force a firm to hire someone if they want a work permit (or 20).

  19. Anonymus says:

    So the 'poor' (a subjective judgement but there you have the problem with articles) students aren't taken in by a law firm and end up at the LA where they get a 'weak' internship and then don't get hired after graduation. Yeah, that's a real help. Maybe what the Law School should do is like UWI and other schools that make the 'articles' part of the course itself. Of course, since the Legal Department is filled with UWI grads and the local law firms don't like the articles they provide maybe they'll have a problem with that too. Probably best just to send the students to the UK where the old boys can call their friends up and say they have a student who's looking for a job out your way old son. Imagine the surprise when the new employee's last name is Ebanks.

    Remember, its not what you know, its who you know.

    (And, yes, the Law School needs to do a better job winnowing out weak candidates and producing stronger graduates but thats another issue.)

    • Anonymous says:

      Spot on; old chap!!

       

      • On the Road Again says:

        Folks I can understand you not agreeing with what ever Dwayne Seymour says, because that is your business, but when it comes down to discrediting him as a man, I have a problem.   Just think, how would you feel to have someone say nasty things about you or one of your children, your mother or father.   You would not like it.

        If you believe in God, please remember that HE IS WATCHING and LISTEING, and he will chastise.   Being cruel and mean to someone who has done you nothing is very dangerous, because WHAT GOES AROUND WILL COME AROUND,  maybe someone will say nasty things about you or your family or child one day.   So my sggestion is critize what ever you like about a motion Dwayne brings, but leave the person bashing outof it.  It only makes you look small un intelligent,. less of a man and carless as a woman.  I just hope the blogs which saying horrible things about Dwayne Seymour is not Caymanians, because I would feel really terible to know that my people can be stooping so low.

        • Anonymous says:

          I read most of these comments and didn't see anyone attacking the man personally but rather speaking out against what they believe to be a bad idea!  Aren't we the people allowed to do that 05/02/2012 – 15:51?  I too think the idea is a bad one and I sure hope it goes no where!

    • Anonymous says:

      "Maybe what the Law School should do is like UWI and other schools that make the 'articles' part of the course itself".

      Actually when it first started that is how the course at the Law School was structured. You entered articles from day one. Half of the day you were in classes and the other half you articled in a law firm. Then the honours course was introduced which required full-time attendance at law school and the structure changed.    

    • Anonymous says:

      There are several good local lawyers who are the product of the Government's articles programme. As I understand it the firms originally used the model the Government had for articles. Now it seems the goalpost is being changed by the firms to their benefit by allowing them to use this new model to weed out graduates.

      Until someone in Government has the kahuna's and political will to sort this out, once and for all it will always be an issue.

      Lets sort it out quickly before silly season starts again!

      • Anonymous says:

        What ever happened to the legal body that used to oversea the Law School? I can't remember the name of it but I believe it was headed by the CJ, AG and other top brass within the legal fraternity. Aren't they still functioning and able to come up with solutions to this problem?