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The who, what and why of the Jamaican Bar Association

Published:Friday | June 7, 2013 | 12:00 AM
President of the Jamaican Bar Association Ian Wilkinson. - Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer

With talk about next weekend's Jamaican Bar Association's seminars to be held in Ocho Rios, St Ann, The Gleaner asked treasurer and Flair legal adviser Sherry-Ann McGregor to shed light on the role and functions of the association.

What is the Bar Association and what is the size of its current membership?

The Jamaican Bar Association (JAMBAR) is a voluntary organisation comprised of attorneys-at-law called to the Jamaican Bar, which was formed on January 16, 1973. It currently has over 1,200 members and is not to be confused with the General Legal Council, which is the regulatory body which governs discipline among Jamaican attorneys and hears complaints against them.

What are Jambar's objectives?

1. To strive for the maintenance and strengthening of the rule of law and human rights.

2. To protect the independence of judges and attorneys.

3. To work towards law reform and the improvement of our legal system.

4. To offer service to our system of justice and to those in need or our aid and protection.

5. To foster basic and continuing legal education.

6. To promote the integrity and good name of the legal profession in Jamaica.

JAMBAR is administered through a council comprised of 20 elected representatives, including a president and a vice-president. There are also sub-committees including: continuing legal education, social affairs and outreach, civil practice & procedure and family law, which assist JAMBAR in meeting its objectives.

Who is eligible for membership and do you have to wait to qualify as a lawyer before becoming a member?

Membership is open to all persons who are licensed to practice as attorneys-at-law in Jamaica who are of sound character. The applicants must be at least 21 years old, citizens of the Commonwealth, have no criminal convictions, have satisfied the General Legal Council that he/she is of sound character, possess a bachelor's degree in law from a recognised tertiary institution and possess a legal education certificate from the Council of Legal Education through one of the three law schools in the Commonwealth Caribbean.

Applications for membership to JAMBAR must be submitted to council for consideration.

More recently, JAMBAR has opened its doors to students enrolled at the Norman Manley Law School or any law schools established by the Council of Legal Education to become affiliates.

What are the membership dues and when are they payable?

All members are obliged to pay annual subscription which ranges between $3,495.00 and $10,485.00, depending on the member's years of practice as an attorney-at-law.

What are the benefits of membership in the Bar Association?

(a) Access to a "suite of financial benefits" due to the Bar's agreement with Scotiabank Jamaica Limited, including discounted interest rates or more favourable terms in relation to, inter alia, business start-up capital or loans; mortgages and motor-vehicle facilities or loans.

(b) Discounted motor-vehicle insurance premiums via ICWI, Spectrum Insurance Brokers and Guardian Insurance Brokers.

(c) Discounted costs to attend continuing legal education seminars, in particular the seminar to be held at the Sunset Jamaica Grande from June 14 to 16, 2013.

(d) Discounted fees for membership at Spartan Health Club/gym.

(e) A free copy of our new, improved JAMBAR Journal newsletter to be published every quarter.

(f) Access to the legal material ("mini library") at the Bar's office.

(g) Discounted ticket cost for Bar events, such as "Bar Beat".

(h) Discounted costs on stationery or other purchases.