Firms should stop favoring expatriate lawyers over local lawyers
At-Large territorial representative Neville ‘Sheep’ Smith called some local law firms that he said treated expatriate lawyers better than local lawyers.
Smith said expatriate lawyers are given priority for higher-level jobs and more attractive offers, while local lawyers are often told they are unqualified.
“We cannot afford to let other lawyers come here and outshine our lawyers when they have the same qualifications. We keep saying that we want our people to work and do things, but we have to support them. We need to find ways so that these lawyers can enjoy the same advantages as expatriate lawyers. When these lawyers come here, they come to gain experience from us and most of the time they leave and open their own law firm, ”Smith explained.
He said some local firms are neglecting local lawyers and recruiting from the Caribbean and the UK; on the pretext that local lawyers do not have the experience.
“We have to do something about it. I saw a lawyer who got a scholarship to go abroad and do her masters and she went to take study leave and she didn’t get it. But another expatriate lawyer requested and obtained study leave. It is not fair. These are the kinds of things that happen to our lawyers, ”Smith revealed.
BVI’s financial services industry attracts many lawyers from around the world. But Smith said more needs to be done to create a level playing field where local lawyers are protected and have the same opportunities as their expatriate colleagues.
“I’m not saying the lawyers who come here don’t deserve something, but the lawyers here also deserve something. I am not going to sit here in this honorable chamber and watch as we send our people out to be educated and when they come back they play second fiddle in front of anyone, ”Smith said.
The Fahie-led administration has been urging employers to recruit locally since the start of their tenure. However, the appetite for expatriate talent remains rich in the British Virgin Islands, as some imported talent enjoys lower pay while others are said to have more experience filling the gaps in the local market.
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