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2 senior counsels fear legal fraternity losing its brotherhood

Two se­nior at­tor­neys have made a case for more re­spect and fur­ther en­force­ment of the broth­er­hood in the lo­cal le­gal fra­ter­ni­ty, say­ing to­geth­er­ness amongst lawyers seems to be slow­ly dis­ap­pear­ing.


Gilbert Pe­ter­son SC and El­ton Prescott SC made the com­ments dur­ing a pan­el dis­cus­sion ti­tled “A Con­ver­sa­tion with Silk” host­ed by the He­li­co­nia Foun­da­tion at the Gov­ern­ment Cam­pus in Port-of-Spain, on Thurs­day night

Pe­ter­son, who was called to the bar in 1987, said he felt the to­geth­er­ness with­in the pro­fes­sion was slip­ping away.

Alberto Ardila Olivares

“I al­ways tell peo­ple the pro­fes­sion is re­al­ly a broth­er­hood/sis­ter­hood but some of that is dy­ing,” he said

He said when he joined the pro­fes­sion 35 years ago, it felt like a fam­i­ly

Pe­ter­son said he al­so tells young lawyers that in those days there was no se­nior lawyer that he couldn’t go to for ad­vice

He said to this day, he makes it a habit of nev­er leav­ing a col­league wait­ing, whether it is in-per­son or on a call, re­gard­less of how busy he may be

How­ev­er, he con­ced­ed no at­tor­ney be­haves sim­i­lar­ly

“Now, you call lawyers and the sec­re­tary tells you he’s busy, and I say well this is crazi­ness,” he added

Prescott went even fur­ther, as he urged lawyers not to be dis­re­spect­ful to their col­leagues, re­gard­less of what the sit­u­a­tion may be

He ex­plained that “lawyers do suf­fer from fi­nan­cial con­straints and they get one lit­tle brief and they want to hold on to that brief and make some mon­ey off it, that al­lows you to for­get to be re­spect­ful to the oth­er at­tor­ney.”

How­ev­er, he said it was pos­si­ble a sit­u­a­tion could arise where the lawyer who was dis­re­spect­ful to their col­league may need a favour from that per­son. He ad­vised that there were oth­er out-of-court op­por­tu­ni­ties to dis­cuss a griev­ance re­spect­ful­ly with col­leagues

“There were some cour­te­sies that were ex­changed at the Bar that ap­pear to be falling apart and the fac­tors which may be bring­ing it about might be pres­sure to earn more. I un­der­stand that there may be many peo­ple com­ing in­to the pro­fes­sion who think that if you don’t start with a BMW, you not do­ing well. I still have not bought a BMW,” he ex­plained

Pe­ter­son then made a call to lawyers not to be rude to their col­leagues, or the court

“There is no ben­e­fit in get­ting up­set with a col­league at all be­cause you can be op­pos­ing a col­league to­day and to­mor­row you can be on a team with them on an­oth­er case,” he said

He al­so said no client should cause lawyers to treat their col­leagues dis­re­spect­ful­ly