Letter reveals billing rates for Cayman’s lawyers

| 25/05/2010

(CNS): The firm recently hired by the Cayman Islands government to represent the country’s interests  in Washington, London and Brussels will not be coming cheap, according to an engagement letter filed with the Washington Justice Department earlier this month. Sidley Austin, which has served as counsel to the government of the Cayman Islands in the past, will be charging as much as US$950 per hour for the work its senior partners do on behalf of the CIG. Cabinet recently confirmed that it has retained the firm, which has a long relationship with Cayman. Sidley Austin has supported the CIG on a number of occasions, including the $312 million successful note offering last year.

Joseph Tompkins Jr., a partner with the firm, will be representing Cayman in Washington, the letter stated, explaining that the firm will assist "in analysing and addressing proposals made in the United States Congress and the Executive Branch that may have an impact upon the Cayman Islands."
The disclosure filing also reveals that Sidley’s billing rates on the contract will range from $200 per hour for new associates to $950 per hour for senior partners. Non-lawyer professionals will cost the CIG between $100 and $315 an hour.
According to Legal Times blog, a website which examines who is lobbying Washington, Tompkins said he has represented the Cayman Islands government in different matters since the mid-1980s, when he worked on a mutual legal aid treaty between the Cayman Islands and the United States.
"Our relationship with them is just very special in the sense that they have relied on us for this 25-year period," he said. Tompkins said the new work involves "acting on their behalf broadly" in Washington, as well as in New York, Europe and Asia.
A release from the Ministry of Finance recently said engaging the firm was part of the CIG’s global international relations strategy for the Cayman Islands.  “Our focus moving forward is to take the Cayman Islands to another level in the minds of the international community, which will undoubtedly support our long-term business, economic and reputation objectives,” Premier McKeeva Bush stated.
The release stated that Tompkins and his team at Sidley Austin will assist government to marshal resources such as international communications, government and stakeholder relations and research, using a tailored approach as part of a globally-integrated strategic programme.
Sidley Austin’s relationship with the Cayman Islands government dates back to 1985 in connection with the negotiation of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty between the Cayman Islands and the US government. During this period, Sidley Austin has advised the Cayman Islands government in connection with numerous matters, including relationships with the US Department of Justice, the US Department of Treasury, and the US Securities and Exchange Commission. It has also represented the Cayman Islands government in negotiating an Asset Sharing Agreement with the US government.
In 2008 Sidley Austin supported the Cayman Islands government’s cooperation with the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) in that agency’s review of US business interests in Cayman. The GAO’s resulting July 2008 report noted that the US Department of Justice regarded the Cayman Islands as one of its “best partners” among offshore jurisdictions, and the GAO also recognized that the Cayman Islands has implemented a regulatory regime that has been recognized to be in compliance with a wide range of international standards, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Caribbean Financial Action Taskforce (CFATF).
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  1. Anonymous says:

    Unrelated news:  Japan Tax deal with Cayman Ok’d


    CNS note: Japan lined up for tax deal with Cayman – posted in CNS Business News Wednesday.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Sorry folks, that is just what lawyers charge in the real world. It is a necessary evil.

    You think we should get a discount?

    Maybe you shouldhave all stayed in school and studied to be a lawyer

    • Anonymous says:

      If Sidley were retained to do legal work for those fees, that would be one thing, but they are lawyers who are attempting to undertake lobbying work.  That is quite another thing.

      There are other excellent options that have been presented to Government in terms of lobbying and PR and yet they insist on doing it their own way – at this very high cost.  They are, in fact, duplicating efforts already in progress by the private sector.


  3. Dagny says:

    This is a classic example of what happens when big government has no brake to curtail their big spending. 

    There is no question that international relations is key to success for Cayman – we need to be competitively positioned and we need to stop the continual Cayman-bashing folly of high tax governments who are afraid of some healthy tax competition.  But the problem here is that the CIG has again allowed ego to rule and they are merrily riding their John Deere combine to cut the grass on their quarter acre lot – a whole lotta wrong tool for the job.

    The private sector in Cayman has been offering use of the its talent, resources and knowledge to the government, but the CIG has decided they know what is best.  Well, at least Sidley Austin are rubbing their hands together with glee.  They must think that all their Christmases have come at once:  they get to cut their teeth on opening a brand new business line with the Cayman Islands Government as their very first client and if they are successful (however they will measure success) then great!  that will be a beautiful feather in their jaunty caps andperhaps more business for them will follow.  If they are not successful (and Cayman goes back to fishing and basket-weaving) well, who cares?  Just take the CIG name off the website client list and walk away with their cool million.

    Meanwhile, the private sector resources (those people/corporations which have a vested interest in seeing Cayman succeed because this is where they have made their homes and their business base) are pushed aside again so that CIG can reign superior and don’t have to admit they haven’t a clue what they are doing.



  4. Flo says:

    A million dollars a year for Sidley Austin to promote themselves when we are asking our civil service to take major cuts doesn’t seem right!  Are there not professionals here that could be put to good use?

    • Anonymous says:

      I think you wil find that they have a budget and it is far, far less than $1m.  

      • noname says:

        well, if that is the case, the situation is even worse, because it means that none of the partners will be working on this account and all the work will be left to the low level administration chumps (secretaries and legal assistants).  You don’t get it both ways – $900 an hour for the top brass and a fixed price. 

        • Anonymous says:

          Don’t worry, the situation won’t be worse because most of the "administration chumps" as you rudely put it do the intelligent work in the law firms anyway.   The partners just sign the work off and then charge their extortionate rates for doing nothing! 

    • Observer says:

      Lawyers here charge up to $850 an hour!!

      • Ali Louya says:

        Less able lawyers are available for substantially less both here and in the US.  But for something this critical to the entire nation, it seems crazy to nickel and dime on this brief.


  5. Caymanite says:

    With all of the people in the photo in the press a couple weeks ago announcing this ‘enhanced’ relationship, I calculate that Sidley were taking about $35,000 a day for their little trip to sunny Cayman. 

    Pretty pricey education for CIMA!

    Also, a look at the Sidley Austin website does not show "public affairs" or "public relations" anywhere on their list of services.  Sidley is certainly a top tier law firm, but how they are making the leap from legal work to lobbying in Washington is beyond me.  If it were simple, everyone would be doing it.  The CIG is the groundbreaker for their new business line.  Great – just the type of cost-effective expertise we need.

    This must be the result of this great public-private sector partnership that everyone keeps crowing about. 


  6. Anonymous says:

    And that is why civil servants have to be cut on their pay.

    What do you think will happen on the long term ?

    Or are we caymanians to stupid to see what is happening ?

    • Dick Shaughneary says:

      "Or are we caymanians to stupid to see what is happening ?"

      You really could not make that up.