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The Editor Speaks: Why the law costs so much

Colin WilsonwebAfter reading the high costs to this country of outside lawyers the Attorney General’s Chambers and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) have engaged, even though both these offices employ “an army” of high paid lawyers themselves in house, I can only speculate why law costs so much and the need to go outside.

The salaries paid to the 19 persons employed at the Attorney General’s Chambers amount to around $1.5M a year with, of course, the AG himself commanding the top salary that is greater than $150,000 per annum.

The Attorney General’s Chambers doesn’t get involved in criminal cases any more but spent around $350,000 on overseas lawyers in 2013 to represent the government in civil cases!

Criminal cases are dealt with by the ODPP and spent $170,000 on outside barristers to represent the crown despite having two Queen Counsel’s – the Director and her Deputy.

I can only surmise it would not look good for our own top people to lose the cases. The general public and the media, of course, would be howling for blood.

So are lawyers the highest paid professionals?

My investigations on the Internet have pointed to a NO.

In the USA it would appear lawyers are only the 5th highest paid collectively – so there are far more, of course, at the bottom of the ladder that tend to distort statistics.

Doctors are in top place and that includes surgeons; orthodontists and dentists are second; chief executive officers are third; and petroleum engineers are fourth.

In Cayman lawyers would be, I believe, placed at least third and probably second. Accountants would also make our list. How many petroleum engineers do we have? We don’t have the multi-national companies here either with their CEO’s commanding a year’s salary the majority of us don’t ever accumulate in our lifetime.

I have some sympathy for lawyers commanding high salaries.

It takes a smart, sharp mind, extensive studying, and long hours of work to finish and graduate from noted law schools.

Lawyers must earn a four-year undergraduate degree, a three-year law degree and pass the bar exam where they intend to practice.

It surely takes a lot of courage and standards to be a successful lawyer. You simply cannot just be anyone who can give away legal advice to people who are in the middle of a legal case. You need to be someone credible and capable of applying what you learned in law school to actual trials and cases.

There are different kinds of lawyers and each one of them has his specialization or expertise when it comes to a specific scenario.

And don’t forget the pro bono work that a lot of them do, especially in the criminal courts.

Whilst top-paid trial lawyers and chief legal officers can earn millions of dollars each year, while some judges and law school professors earn six figure salaries in large countries, they are the exception and not the rule.

Then there are the lawyers who administer hedge funds ……

That’s why the law costs so much.


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