A former President of the Grenada Bar Association (GBA), Ashley Bernadine has dropped strong hints that lawyers on the island are too preoccupied with making money.
THE NEW TODAY newspaper has obtained the copy of a letter that Bernadine sent to the Executive of the association to coincide with this week’s celebration of “Law Week” in Grenada.
The letter addresses a number of burning issues confronting the profession such as lack of camaraderie among lawyers, problems within the Supreme Court Registry and the shortage of criminal lawyers to deal with the plethora of matters before the Criminal Assizes.
The attorney reminded lawyers that the profession is not only about seeking to make money but to also render assistance to those who lack the financial resources but are still in need of their services.
“One of the enduring lessons I learnt, was that you must not be anxious to make money as soon as possible. The Land Law Professor said it will come, the first 5 to 10 years might be hard, but it will come. The issues is “Good Professional Service”. Your practice will evolve and develop. But at times you must be willing to render assistance to those in need, particularly young criminal offenders”, he said in the letter.
Following is the full text of the letter:
TO: The Executive of the Grenada Bar Association
There are some pressing issues concerning the profession regarding our role in society, and the public perception of us as lawyers.
(1). There is a growing shortage (paucity) of Lawyers at the Criminal Bar.
(2). There are over one hundred (100) Cases listed for the Assizes, one hundred and fourteen (114) to be exact. Over twenty (20) are Murders, over thirty (30) are sexual offenses, over twenty-five (25) are Breaking and Entering and the rest involves Harm and Injuries to the person. Most involve young men between the ages of fifteen (15) and thirty-five (35). Most are “Indigent Defenders”. No legal representation, most cannot afford the services of a Lawyer. There is no “Legal Aid” which exists in most other Commonwealth Jurisdictions. “Legal Aid” is a “Mis-nomer,” in Grenada. However, the Legal Aid office they do most of the matrimonial stuff and compete with the general profession. They incorporate companies and buy and sell land .
(3). The Registry is still in shambles with respect to the ledgers, which are the repository (to) house the records for land transactions.
(4). There is no access to public parking at the Registry. The public has no access to “Justice”. All the parking spaces are taken by employees of the Court. Disabled and senior citizens have no access to the Registry by car or other means of transport.
(5). When is the ‘Juvenile Center’ coming on stream? There are too many “Remand Prisoners” at Richmond Hill. Also too many ‘Criminally Insane’ offenders are housed at the Prison. Not enough Counselors, nor Psychiatrists to deal with these offenders with respect to therapy and rehabilitation.
(6). We must be both imaginative and creative. We can involve the public to help raise funds. There is enough talent at the Bar to hold one or two variety concerts. We can combine with the Medical Profession. “Doctors, Lawyers in Concert” to raise funds and for ‘Goodwill’.
(7). There is no social interaction between Lawyers. We can have a beach party, a swim meet. In the old days when the Court of Appeal made their “Itinerant visit” to our shores we held a “Cocktail Function” for them. The Court of Appeal is back on the 8th of December, it is the Christmas season. Surely we can have a “Cocktail Party”; with a little advance planning in December for them. It will also give us an opportunity to interact and become more acquainted with each other in the Season of Good Cheer.
I hope these insights are not treated contemptuously by you, or that it falls on deaf ears. We must be “Pro Active.”
This might be a sensitive area, but our product from the Law School is too home grown e.g at the Inn of Court – Gray’s to be specific. You meet a plethora of students from all over the Commonwealth, to a lesser extent the U.S. and Europe.
During the dinning term, you share a table with four (4) others from Asia and Africa or where ever, there is great cross-fertilisation of ideas and inter-action. The view is expansive, not myopic.
One of the enduring lessons I learnt, was that you must not be anxious to make money as soon as possible. The Land Law Professor said it will come, the first 5 to 10 years might be hard, but it will come. The issues is “Good Professional Service”. Your practice will evolve and develop. But at times you must be willing to render assistance to those in need, particularly young criminal offenders.
As I write this short note I am reminded of the Book of Proverbs Chapter 1, verse 1-5. The Proverbs of Solomon the Son of Daniel, King of Israel.
*To know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding.
*To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment and equity.
*To give prudence to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.
*A wise man will hear and increase learning and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel.
The next challenge is the ‘Administration and Functioning’ of the “Mediation process”. The under utilization of the majority of “Court Appointed” Mediators is a waste of resources.