EDITORIAL: Stand tall new attorneys, we need you
Despite its shortcomings, the legal profession is still held in high esteem by many Barbadians and is one career to which many aspire. So that those 45 new attorneys at law who were admitted to the Bar on Friday must recognise that they have a special responsibility to society beyond upholding of their code of ethics.
These new attorneys must appreciate that they must now set out on a journey, not purely of building a financially rewarding career and perhaps an imposing national profile, but more so to contribute in a meaningful way to this constantly changing society. It must be about more than mere impressions.
The traditional belief that lawyers are intellectually better or act to a higher standard than the rest in society can no longer be loudly proclaimed. Unfortunately, the behaviour and non-performance by some within the esteemed profession have long damaged its reputation.
Today, the lawyer’s place must not be about privilege and status, but about offering a worthwhile contribution in varied ways. This will require some of our new attorneys getting into areas those in the profession once overlooked or ignored because they were either not very lucrative nor offered the necessary profile.
For this latest group of lawyers, many will be entering a challenging job market, but lawyers, like any other professional, will have to deal with the prevailing times. To their advantage these new attorneys would have been educated to be creative and also be problem solvers. They need to put these skills to the test.
There is demand for lawyers in finance, business, the arts, education, sport and entertainment, non-profit as well as non-governmental, research and in helping the dispossessed and more. They need to weigh in on controversial matters, give guidance to those who feel hopeless, while all the time ensuring that justice prevails. It is to exploit these opportunities which are all critical for the advancement of the society.
Lawyers must now join forces with non-lawyers in multi-disciplinary practices given the changes taking place worldwide and which will certainly happen here. They must expect and be prepared for challenges to long-held traditional areas of specialisation, as has happened in Britain where accountants are now moving into probate work. Technology will necessitate even more changes.
The myth has long been dispelled that every lawyer is an expert in every area. So that the more attorneys admitted to the local Bar, the better for the consumer and society.
For those who argue, whether aloud or sotto voce, that we have too many lawyers, wake up. All that is required of each and every one of them is to differentiate by offering superior service and the highest level of integrity and letting the pursuit of justice always be their passion.