Charity centre calls on lawyers to help with caseload

| 25/07/2013

(CNS): The Legal Befriender Service is in dire need of lawyers to help the centre provide critical legal assistance to those in need. In recent weeks it has seen a decline in the lawyers available to provide the service but its clients are consistently require assistance. There are some 500 registered lawyers in the Cayman Islands and while they are expected to do some form of pro bono work they are under no obligation to do so. The service provides information and guidance to individuals facing difficult situations, free of charge. It has strong support from the judicial administration and with the Chief Justice actively promoting the involvement of attorneys in pro bono work the charity is hopeful that it can attract at least a few pairs of legal hands from those on island.

The charity support group was established by the Business & Professional Women’s Club but it is now coordinated by the Family Resource Centre

“In the last few months, there has been a decline in lawyers available to provide the service, but clients steadily require assistance,” spokesperson said as she asked for the help of the legal community.

This service provides information and guidance to individuals facing difficult situations, free of charge. It has strong support from Judicial Administration and the Chief Justice wishes to actively promote the involvement of attorneys in pro bono work.

Contact the Family Resource Centre to learn how you can help via email: frc@gov.ky, phone: 949-0006 or visit www.facebook.com/familyresourcecentre
 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Category: Local News

Comments (64)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Anonymous says:

    Do you want a dentist performing heart surgery – NO – guess what they all studied medicine- same thing goes for lawyers we SPECIALISE and a law school course in criminal law won't help assist some stupid kid that has been caught smoking weed or robbing someone. 

  2. Anonymous says:

    There seems to be some misunderstanding about what exactly the Legal Befrienders need in terms of lawyers to assist at the Clinic.  Lawyers from all different practice areas are happily accepted as volunteers at the Clinic.  Myself and another lawyer at my firm (one of the major law firms here) practice in the areas of hedge fund disputes and insolvency, but we are pleased and happy to donate our time to the Legal Befrienders Clinic on a frequent basis.

    We are concerned at some of the comments above.  Some comments are clearly intended to be light-hearted, but could be easily misunderstood and offer fuel to the genuine grievance at the perceived selfishness and greed of lawyers here, particularly those from overseas. We think that is an unfortunate perception, and an unfair generalisation, but it is genuinely held however misconceived, and one way to address it is by lawyers giving up their time to help institutions such as the Clinic.

    Lawyers who donate their time  to the Clinic are not expected to be ‘experts’ in every type of matter that presents itself at the Clinic, which often have elements of family, immigration, and criminal law.  Each client is informed at the outset that we are not lawyers working in those areas, but will do whatever we can to assist the client, which could involve giving an initial view as to the client’s options, finding a family or criminal lawyer that they can formally instruct (usually on legal aid) or researching a point to which we do not know the answer, with follow up by phone to the client. 

    From the view of my colleague and myself, we take great pleasure in being able to help those who are less fortunate and also to research parts of the law in Cayman that do not come up in our everyday practice.  We consider ourselves very fortunate to be able to practice in this jurisdiction and enjoy giving back to the people of the Cayman Islands through the Clinic by using the skills that enabled us to make a life here in the first place.  It is rewarding for us to have positive feedback from those who genuinely need help but do not have the means to instruct a lawyer. 

    It would be good to see  more lawyers, whatever their practice area, become involved in the Clinic and in turn militate against the perception that lawyers coming to this jurisdiction are only interested in using their skills to make money and not to assist people, whatever their walk of life, in  understanding and  enforcing their legal rights.  The Clinic is a great institution, very rewarding to be part of, and we encourage all lawyers to consider what they can do to help.  Most of us are guests in these islands, and we should be giving something back, to help the lessfortunate.

  3. Anonymous says:

    As usual it is clear to see those who post on here who understand the principles of duty of care and the consequences of acting negligently and those who do not… I can without hesitation say that 99% of the legal profession in Cayman give to charity however this rarely includes the giving of LEGAL advice because of what giving LEGAL advice entails… Individuals rely heavily on legal advice and Lawyers (often) get sued for giving wrong legal advice and in the very worst instances can get disbarred as a result… so it should be of no surprise that a hedge funds lawyer will not want to give legal advice (regardless of whether it is being given for free) on divorce, or traffic accidents… because this is not his area of expertise and therefor he or she will have no comfort in giving said advice. To look at it another way (considering most are here to accuse lawyers of being greedy) say a man walks into conveyancing lawyers office and says "I want you to sent up a hedge fund and I will pay you $50k to do so…" The Conveyancing Lawyer isn't going to say (unless he's a clown)… "although my experise is conveyancing and I have never set up a Hedge Fund before I will happily take your money and set up a fund in the knowledge that if i get this wrong you will sue the pants off me."

  4. Anonymous says:

    The lawyers here are mostly douche bags. The law is a public calling. Lawyers are officers of the court to which they are admitted, and they have public responsibilities beyond their duty to their high paying clients. All you really need is for the Chief Justice to man up and issue an order requiring x hours of pro bono work a year from all of the lawyers admitted to practice (or they can pay someone else to do it.). This is not a revolutionary concept.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I did not study law to become a do-gooder.  I studied law to make money and be successful with women who were otherwise out of my league. 

  6. Anonymous says:

    Some politicians are laywers, so there will never be a Jersey law here.

    Sad . . . . . . . .

  7. Anonymous says:

    Why should they offer their services free- they don't get anything free and they work hard unlike a lot of people needing hand outs!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Why not weave this into the law school PPC training programme? In Australia, you can either spend a year in a law firm, or do the one year Bar course like our PPC. So how many Australian lawyers do we have here, who spent a year with a firm? 

  9. Knot S Smart says:

    Wow.

    The words 'Lawyers' and 'charity' in one sentence.

    Now that is what I call creativity…

  10. JTB says:

    I'm a lawyer, and happy to help with this. My specialism is insolvency and litigation relating to hedge funds and fraud. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Yeah right.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is the attitude that is not funny but so common in the legal community.  This person knows how litigation works, is well educated and trained to consider issues quickly.  This means they are in a great position to offer advice to someone in need.  What this post is really saying is that they are more interested in making a little more money than doing good.

    • Anonymouse says:

      Then go back to law school and brush up on the law.

      • Anonymous says:

        If you're so keen perhaps you should pay to go to law school, spend years 'brushing up', then go and work for other people for free?

    • Anonymous says:

      100% tool.  This is why these people should pay income tax.

      • JTB says:

        I'm not quite sure I follow your logic there, but no doubt you can explain it.

        I was clearly being too opaque in my attempt to be slightly whimsical. Why should I be required to provide a service for which I am not qualified? It is conceptually no different to suggesting that accountants be required to provide free dental care. 

        It takes many years training to become competent in any field of the law. I chose a particular path. I cannot now quickly mug up on an entirely different area of practice and claim to be able properly to advise on divorce, wills, crime or so on.

        Equally, why should lawyers be singled out to make up the shortfall in CIG's budget? Access to justice is one of the hallmarks of a civilised society and should be a core government function, not farmed out to enforced charity.

        I, along with every other lawyer I know, do pro bono work. I choose the cases I offer assistance to on the basis of the circumstances of the person needing help, and my own ability competently to provide the service they need. It is, with the greatest respect to the comments on this board, no business of government to dictate to me how I should donate my time to charity.

        • Anonymous says:

          I'm new to this thread but I suppose your slightly whimsical comment about specialising in insolvency, hedge fund and fraud litigation is meant to convey the fact that some lawyers here only practice in certain specialised areas of law and so can't be expected to help others who may need advice of a more 'domestic' nature. But isn't that a bit like saying a brain surgeon can't diagnose a headache and prescribe asprin.

          Yes, lawyers do need to know what they're talking about but someone experienced in fraud litigation should know a bit about basic criminal law, especially when combined with their law degree, their stint at law school/bar school and their experience in articles/pupillage and be able to give someone some guidance. I dont think the Legal Befrienders is asking anyone to represent someone before the Court of Appeal on a murder charge.

          Then you say that every lawyer you know does provide advice for free but I wonder to who if, as you say, they can't advise on domestic matters. To their commercial clients presumably, or to their friends around the dinner table. And presumably there's an ulterior motive for doing so

          I'm not disagreeing with your comment that lawyers shouldn't be compelled to provide advice on areas of the law which they don't practice in, or be compelled to provide any public service at all if they don't want to. In a "civilised society" its their choice but when an individual charges between CI$450.00 to CI$750.00 per hour, or as an employee gets paid between CI$300,000.00 and say CI$1,000,000.00 per annum, in an income tax free jurisdiction, it becomes a question of conscience doesn't it, as to whether or not one tries to help those less fortunate than oneself.

           Every lawyer I know does pro bono work as well but that's called when the client you thought was going to pay doesn't pay. Slightly different from asking the Legal Befrienders whether you could help by giving someone some preliminary/common sense advice on say an employment issue, or a landlord and tenant issue. Every lawyer I know also knows in what circumstances he or she is entitled to their rent deposit back, or is entitled to pay in lieu of notice, or severance pay. 

          I think the reality is that every one of the 500 or so lawyers in Cayman could give someone some help if they wanted to. They don't have to but they could. The Befrienders recruitment drive will show how many want to. And yes, any Government should strive to provide access to justice but many can't, or just don't. Cayman isn't unique in that sense. What makes Cayman unique is the number of lawyers here per capita. Brought here by the financial services industry I grant you but there are other people in Cayman, outside the glass and concrete buildings off Elgin Avenue and elsewhere and surely its short sighted for those that benefit enormously fromthe financial services industry to just disregard those in need, or treat them all as just spongers.  

          RJ

    • Anonymous says:

      Sounds like a cop out.  Didn't you learn anything else in law school?.

    • Anonymous says:

      As a lawyer I am embarrassed by people like this.

    • Anonymous says:

      Then I suggest you go back to school and get training on something else as well.  I think government should only allow permits for a certain number of these litigation lawyers and tell each firm to have at least one lawyer in family matters.  How many of these lawyers do we really need?  Family is more important than hedge funds.

      • Anonymous says:

        Your reply clearly demonstrates how little you understand of Cayman, its financial services sector, law and litigation.

      • Anonymous says:

        08.43 -not if you want to make a bundle of money!!!!

  11. Anonymous says:

    What about those lawyers that say they cannot get employment, why do'nt they assist and log it as experience on their next application?  Also go the Jersey way, they will call it dicriminatory, but is everything not labled that these times. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly.  This would be good experience for all those qualified Caymanian lawyers saying they are unable to obtain work, and good experience for those currently working in the litigation and criminal disciplines.

  12. Anonymous says:

    We’ll see who will step up to the plate! I bet a hand full!

    • Anonymous says:

      That many? 

    • This is so simple says:

      SOOOO Shameful and these same lawyers wil be asking for Permanent Residency and Status.  They and their manicured yoga wives are rarely seen rolling up their sleeves anywhere but a sushi restaurant.

      Yes, take away the rolloever, it failed,  but make these white collared wimps earn their keep in our community before granting them and their families (thus grandchildren) a permanent place in our society.

      Man-up legal eagles!!!

      • Anonymous says:

        And thats why I won't feel bad to NOT help.

        • Anonymous says:

          If you are honest with yourself, I think you wouldn't offer to help NO MATTER what anyone says with the exception maybe of your senior partner.

      • Anonymous says:

        But you have to agree our manicured yoga wives are hot!

        • Anonymous says:

          They maybe hot but don't forget that some of them might get poached if they are too hot!!

        • Anonymous says:

          Yes, I agree… even hotter when you leave them home alone and you work long hours.

      • Anonymous says:

        Why would my "manicured yoga wife" wear sleeves when she has such well-toned arms from all that yoga ? (and don't forget the personal trainer).

      • Anonymous says:

        Indeed 13.51…all the damn foreigners should spend at least 50% of their time helping needy Caymanians out. Most Caymanians are clearly too busy to do so themselves, so all the work permit holders should. Bizarre attitudes on here…a lot of voices clearly hate WP holders, but want their help for free. Such a God loving nation. Charity begins at home my dears, at home.

    • Anonymous says:

      The government needs to go directly to the head of each law firm and get a commitment from members of their staff  to a certain number of hours each year. Its not optional – it is required.  You cannot leave it to the individual lawyers for many reasons.

      • Anonymous says:

        09.35- well said and tehn the head of each law firm should go to government and tell them how to run the country better!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Unless "those in need" are planning an IPO, looking to launch a hedge fund or making a bond issue the majority of the 500 lawyers here aren't going to be much use to them.

    • Anonymous says:

      But those lawyers' money would be useful to fund the needed legal services.  They make plenty.  Anyway any legal training is enough to offer help to people in need.

      • Anonymous says:

        Just get Bush to do a Lawyers tax so you can steal the money from them "legally".  Then the Government (who has lots of money comeing in) can give you a fair share of it to vote for them nexttime.

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s right, leave it to the local lawyers and then deny them promotion and advancement for not spending that time billing. You are the problem. If your hedge fund lawyers cannot give basic advice on a contractual or matrimonial dispute they are plainly incompentent and should not have been granted work permits in the first place.

      • Anonymous says:

        Ah so embittered attorney thinks the reason for the lack of career advancement is that they did too much selfless pro bon work.  Yeah right.

      • Anonymous says:

        Oh ye of little faith and even less understanding and knowledge!  I smell chips, and they are on your shoulder.

      • Anonymous says:

        Lawyers earn big money, so WP holders will be paying a lot for their work permit…they are already taxed effectively…maybe the tax revenues should be spent better? Like providing lawyers for this good cause?

    • Anonymous says:

      This is the bit they always fail to understand – same with the whole Legal Aid saga – horses for courses.  No point forcing a lawyer to give advice in an area where they have no knowledge or expertise.

      • Anonymous says:

        Which is the beauty fo the Jersey system.  If your excuse is you are specialised in something else you pay someone to do your public hours.  Let's not beat about the bush, these high flying finance lawyers could easily offer their services but they simply make too much money and do not want to help.

    • Anonymous says:

      How can these lawyers get through law school only learning about IPO's and hedge funds?  It would be like specialists in the medical profession not learning the basics before going into their speciality.  It sounds like a bunch of selfish excuses on the part of our legal brethren.  

  14. Anonymous says:

    In Jersey EVERY laywer is required to do a significant number of hours of free work assigned by the authorities.  The lawyer can get others from their firms to do the hours, so the funds and trusts lawyers effectively pay for a criminal lawyer to do their hours.  Jersey has no legal aid bill as a result.  Sounds quite a good idea.

    • Anonymous says:

      Absolutely. I could not agree more. While we are at it, let's also require the doctors to give free medical treatment, the bars to serve free drinks and the garages to provide free cars.

      • Anonymous says:

        Wait until you get arrested for something you didn't do.

        Or get in a divorce and your spouse cleans you out completely.

        And medical should be free anyways. . . . .

      • Caymanian Voter says:

        We DO offer free medical. It is called civil service and the HSA.  Agree that all professionals should do some form of charity work.  Find 5 hours a month to do something for your community, it is just that simple a d would make for a better society.

         

      • Anonymous says:

        People don't tell doctor or mechanic jokes.  Attitude like this is the reason why they tell lawyer jokes.

      • Anonymous says:

        A LOT of doctors DO give free medical treatment….so you legal eagles, so many of whom are reading this particular article and giving thumbs up and down where it suis you, just don't want to serve the community in any way, shape or form.  Why don't you just say as much instead of being sarcastic? 

      • Anonymous says:

        This arrogant and cocky reply is both shameful and disgusting as it shows clearly the greed and defiance from the industry and the stupidity of the writer in that the comparison of the other professions do not rate any where near a lawyer. We do not see a bar owner, doctor, or garage owner amassing the weath, building the manions and retiring so quickly after arriving in this country as do lawyers. Its all about money, greedy and not giving back with this writer. Obviously another "Master of the Universe"

      • Anonymou says:

        Do you think that Kirky pays for the beers he has in his hand most of the day??   The Bars are doing their charity work.

    • Anonymous says:

      Great, lets all move to Jersey!

      • Anonymous says:

        Not necessary for us to move to Jersey…(chances are you wouldn't be allowed in there anyway)…it's a lot easier to adopt the same rule here.

    • Diogenes says:

      How much do lawyers pay for a work permit in Jersey?

    • Anonymous says:

      Jersey is different. There they widely practice Cayman Law without being admitted or having 3 years PQE.