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.
“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.