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Former LATT president: Too many lawyers in TT

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Former LATT president: Too many lawyers in TT

Former president of the Law association of TT (LATT) Seenath Jairam, SC, says, for a small society with an approximate 1.4 million people, TT is producing far too many lawyers.

Speaking to Newsday on Sunday, Jairam said more than 300 lawyers were approved by the association each year and thus the country was saturated with attorneys, some of whom could not find work.

Jairam made the comment in response to a Saturday Newsday lead story that said lawyers were driving taxis to make ends meet.

“In my first year I signed in over 400 lawyers,” Jairam said. “When the council of legal case education was formed, TT was supposed to get 40 legal case workers. We now have a faculty of law that takes in 325 students a year.”

Jairam said the saturation of lawyers was not unique to TT alone. He recalled being in a conversation with other law associations in Jamaica about three years ago, that told him the same was happening there.

He added that in the United States, when lawyers were not able to find work, they “chase ambulances” to seek out clients who are injured and may require legal representation.

He said people should focus on vocational skills as there is a shortage of workers for industries like construction, carpeting and electronics. He added, as the world moves away from fossil fuels, people should look to seek education in industries surrounding clean energy.

“Not everyone is cut out for academics or law and medicine. We should have a redirection of skills training. We need carpenters, electricians. But this traditional thing of people only being doctors or lawyers will not fly.”

He said lawyers who could not find work could volunteer for bigger law firms, even if they were not getting paid. He said, as a lawyer, resorting to driving taxis could cause lawyers to lose their edge.

“Speak to a senior lawyer and ask them to “devil” (acting as a junior assistant) for them. Show your technical skills and ability to reason and write. You have to persevere.

“I remember carrying a big lawyer’s suitcase when I started out. That is how you endear yourself to people. Dress properly and try to get your name out there, even if it’s free. Driving taxis is an act of desperation.”

On Friday, attorney and director of the Legal Aid Clinic at Hugh Wooding Law School Hazel Thompson-Ahye made the revelation that law graduates were resorting to plying their cars for hire to live after discovering that there was a shortage of attorneys in the Solicitor General’s Department in the office of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs (AGLA.)

AG Faris Al-Rawi said attorneys had many opportunities in TT’s expanding judicial system and added that the Solicitor General’s office had hired 60 attorneys for the Children’s Authority. He added that in the criminal division alone, over 1,000 people were hired. He also said TT would soon have 129 courts in total, and the magistracy in San Fernando is also expected to be expanded.

“The legal structures that are expanding are quite significant,” Al Rawi said.


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