The Bahamas Bar Association is the largest single professional organization in The Bahamas, apart from the teachers. With 991 members at the end of 2008, it is larger than the associations of accountants, architects, engineers, bankers, financial and analysts and most other professions. Indeed, with a population of over 300,000, The Bahamas is in the top 25 countries of the world with the highest concentrations of lawyers. There is a lawyer for every 500 persons. That concentration is lower than in the U.S. but, you are more likely to run into a lawyer on the street corner in The Bahamas than inmost other countries of the world.
The rate of growth has increased dramatically in recent years and can be expected to continue to climb. That is not a happy state of affairs, because careers guidance and choices should be based on a clear vision of the future of the economy and a thorough manpower needs assessment, and not, as presently, on the kitchen, homespun wisdom that one’s children will have a life of smooth sailing once they become lawyers, doctors, or accountants. We know that is not necessarily the case. If, for example, the FTAA is in the future of The Bahamas, it is necessary to cultivate entrepreneurship, agribusiness, fisheries, and personnel in other diversified blue collar sectors, which carry the same dignity of work and perhaps more remunerative financial returns.
The composition of the legal profession reflects the trends in the society at large, with an increasing proportion of women becoming lawyers. At the call to the Bar on September 26, 2008, for example, more than half of the 16 candidates were women. Half of the new lawyers were from Freeport; callees may have second degrees, including advanced financial law subjects. The following call day included 13 lawyers primarily from the Eugene Dupuch Law School, Nassau, The Bahamas.
A Bahamian lawyer can be found with expertise or experience or both in practically every field of law. There are dozens of senior counsel of more than 15 or 20 years experiences, but only four Queen’s Counsel, as that designation is granted by the political directorate. The view of the Bar is that QC or SC should be awarded by the legal fraternity and not by politicians. Compared with Canada and the UK, for example, there is a dearth of such designated counsel. But, that is not for want of every able counsel. While the advocate in a case should be a member of The Bahamas Bar Association, cooperation with lawyers and legal traditions around the world is encouraged. This strikes the right balance, promotes the development of The Bahamas, and is a reflection of the openness and cosmopolitan nature of the Bahamian society and economy.
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