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Former Bar president guides young attorneys on right path

Published:Friday | December 18, 2015 | 12:00 AMBarbara Gayle
Wilkinson: Creep before you walk; walk before you run. Do not hurry to try and drive Benz, Bimmer, Range.

A special warning not to get involved in scamming was issued to the recent graduates of the Norman Manley Law School, who were admitted this month to practise in the courts in Jamaica.

Queen's Counsel Ian Wilkinson, immediate past president of the Jamaican Bar Association and a member of the Bar Council, issued the warning when he welcomed the new lawyers.

"Do not be a scammer! When I say 'scammer', I am not just talking about the infamous 'lotto scamming'. A 'scammer' is synonymous with dishonesty," Wilkinson said.

"Some of the biggest scammers are clients. I warn you to be careful in dealing with clients, especially in light of certain laws, particularly the Proceeds of Crime Act," he added.

Wilkinson also advised the young lawyers to avoid the get-rich-quick mentality.

"Creep before you walk; walk before you run. Do not hurry to try and drive Benz, Bimmer, Range," he stressed.

Wilkinson said people who own such motor vehicles honestly have either inherited money or paid their dues, having worked hard.

"Others get them quickly via a life of crime. Never let that be you," Wilkinson warned.

"My first motor car ... used to break down with me on the road. It once broke down close to the Supreme Court, and after I could not find anything wrong with it, trying to look 'learned' under the bonnet in front of my client, the mechanic came and simply said that it had run out of gas."

Wilkinson, in encouraging the young attorneys to live within their means, said: "Do not try and get a two-bedroom apartment if a one-bedroom will suffice. Take a smaller mortgage. Live life as simply as possible."

He also called for them to make significant contributions to the country and their profession.

CONTRIBUTE TO BAR

"Join your Bar and make a difference. Do not be like those who criticise from the periphery and never contribute at all or meaningfully," he implored.

Wilkinson said: "Ask not what the Bar Association can do for you, but what you can do for the Bar."

He told them that a healthy and strong Bar will make a healthy and strong legal profession. A strong legal profession will make a powerful justice system. A great justice system will result in a magnificent nation, he added.

Wilkinson reminded them of the economic climate in the country and pointed out that, regardless of how many International Monetary Fund tests Jamaica passes, the nation won't move forward without a strong, efficient justice system. He called for the lawyers to make it their duty to improve the justice system to serve their fellow Jamaicans.

REMAIN TRUE TO OATH

He reminded them that they were now members of a very noble profession and encouraged them to adhere to the oath they took.

"Resolve to make a difference so that whenever your family members, the chief justice, your teachers, [and] the lawyers who presented your applications today see your picture or hear your name, they will smile with pride and not feel regret or be ashamed."

He urged them to read certain journals written by some members of the profession to assist them in having a successful practice.

Wilkinson implored them to be counted among the "good lawyers" not the "bad people".

More than 200 lawyers were called to the Bar this month.

Chief Justice Zaila McCalla presided over the ceremonies in the Supreme Court, which took place over a four-day period, as the lawyers were admitted in batches of at least 50 each day.

barbara.gayle@gleanerjm.com