Bajan Lawyers: Responsiveness and General Customer Service

Austin

A key factor in expanding our international and local business base in these challenge times, is to have attorneys in Barbados that are responsive to the legal needs of our society and nation. Unfortunately there is a “below the radar” systemic problem with many attorneys in Barbados (not all), as it relates to responsiveness and general customer service.

I am not an attorney but as a business man I am very curious about what attorneys are being taught in Law School when it comes to responsiveness and customer service, clearly not enough.

As a Bajan executive working for an international firm who has pitched “Barbados” as an ideal country to expand our company, it is simply embarrassing when a firm like mine cannot get a “return call/email” from  any attorney in Barbados; we contacted many over a period of weeks.  Our contact efforts have been simply to setup a meeting nothing more.

Many attorneys’ in Barbados appear to operate in  a  manner that would never make it in the UK, Canada or Europe.  Unless our firm has just been unlucky (which is possible) in selecting the right attorneys our experience has been very disappointing.

If my observations prove correct the impact of this  “below the radar” problem with attorney’s in Barbados is coming in the form of lost national business opportunities.

The  Barbados Government has been encouraging growth in the small business sector and trying to attract international firms to Barbados, however if attorneys’ in Barbados do not improve in the area of responsiveness and customer service, international business executives/investors trying to do business “in and with” Barbados will simply go elsewhere.

17 thoughts on “Bajan Lawyers: Responsiveness and General Customer Service


  1. You’re not the first or last to observe or complain about the attitude of attorneys in Barbados. I believe,since they are so many, they try to make themselves like busy, so that they can overcharge when they do meet with you or do business for you. It is not unusual for an attirney to keep an important document for a client on his desk for months, just to be signed, simply because if he/she delivers it too quickly, the client may question the fees chagrd. I hope our new C.J can revolutionise the entire system.


  2. Austin wrote “it is simply embarrassing when a firm like mine cannot get a “return call/email” from any attorney in Barbados; we contacted many over a period of weeks.”

    You should have said this.

    We want to get going right away. We plan an initial investment of USA $10 million. We will wire you a RETAINER.
    Can you set up a meeting for next week?


  3. The problem of silence, if true in relation to lawyers, is actually a NATIONAL problem and at all levels. You find it in the Church – did anyone ever get a response from the Bishop of Barbados? – in the university, in government, and, yes, even in the ‘little fella’ if it suits. You find it in “unsuccessful applicants will not be written to” advertisements. It makes you want to say ‘Who the F do these people think they are?’. Yes, it’s pig-ignorant and insulting. But until people begin to understand that life is not just about power-over and stop playing ‘Mr Big stuff’ what can we do – well, other than point it out to them and run all the attendant risks?


  4. An unfortunate business experience indeed for Mr. Austin. Sometimes people have themselves to blame because they quite often prefer the big names forgetting that “all that glitter is not gold”. I believe Mr. Austin will get the proper service which he deserves when he meets a lawyer who is committed to results. And if I may forestall any objection to that description: yes, there are lawyers who fit that description, you may have to look for them though because they don’t glitter.


  5. welcome to the club of disappointment. some years ago, i bought a piece of land and was calling the attorney to ascertain how much money i owed him for his legal fees, i got no response so i happened to be the area and popped into the office. i enquired from the secretary whether he was busy and her response was in the negative, so i said to her i wanted to see him to asceratin what was his fees, i heard him said to her, x by name cant walking to his r—hole office just like that he got to make an appointment. Guess what he was doing,? Liatening to west indies gety beat.

    He shouted as his secreaty so hard that i heard what he ahd said, he did not realize that i was in ear shot. His response was in the most vulgar of terms. I responded similary, letting him know that i had heard what he ad said and that i was not begging him for something. He eventually agreed that he wouldsee me, by that time i was steaming with anger, having been inuslted like that. I sent some fisherman’s language to him, stormed out of his office and never returned, except to sign the document and pay him his fees.

    Would you believe this is a guy wh had worked with me, we sat down and decided that we would go to the hill, he did law while i went into a different area. I guess, he was moving on up the soicial ladder so he thought he could speak to me with vulgarity as i knew him. Guess waht, a few years when he was looking for an aparment for his outside woman, whose door he turned up at?


  6. @ Blogger2012,

    Sadly our story is credible. Those of us Bajans who live in the major cities of the world have had similar experiences when we try to do business with Lawyers at home.

    The outside woman thing sometimes reaches outside Barbados.

    Barbados Lawyers are mostly good but it is still difficult to find out who the good ones are.

    The one thing that really bothers me is that they do not grasp the concept that they are PAID to provide services.


  7. And to think most of our politicians are drawn from the pool of lawyers ; – )

    This business with poor legal services is kicking us in the butt in the area of International Business as well. BIBA say so too!


  8. Imagine if one of these Lawyers bumped his head and decided to change his practice to one that would be successful in Toronto.

    He would grasp the following concept.

    Good, prompt, honest service will make you a millionaire.

    Government also needs to modernise the Registry and the Courts.

    Good, prompt, honest service. Wow!!! what a concept.


  9. @ Hants
    “Paid to provide servcies'”
    This is exactly the point…future tense. But, on this one, lawyers are NOT always, and are often not, paid anything in advance. If they do legal aid work they don’t get paid till the end. In hardship cases their fees arrive in dribbles over months. In some cases clients are utterly contumacious. It is often the contumacious clients that are the most difficult and continue to expect something for nothing and call and call and call – and so the lawyer gets fed up and shuns them. Yes, sure there are lawyers who, for whatever reason, give you the run-around and sit on things. Well we shun them too…..and there is always the option of reporting them to the Bar Council. But as you say, most of them do a pretty thorough job.
    I leave aside the numerous frustrations in the system which cause delay; and also the question of the extent a lawyer’s conduct is influenced by political and personal considerations relating to the ‘other side’ – which in my
    experience is, well, in such a small society an ever present risk.


  10. It would be nice to have a website where average people could tell their tales, broadcast their grievances and call the names of the offending parties as well so that others will know where not to spend their monies …


  11. @robert ross | February 4, 2012 at 3:25 PM | “The problem of silence, if true in relation to lawyers, is actually a NATIONAL problem and at all levels.” 1000% correct, sir. It is not peculiar to the legal profession. But it is internationally unacceptable just the same. In whatever profession. Sending an e-mail refusing to represent a new client is, I believe, only good manners and it is high time that Bajan attorneys started to do just that.

    But, hey, attorneys are only imitating what happens when they write the Registrar. Answer comes there NONE!!! So, as the Registrar runs the courts, obviously it is she that set the standards for the conduct and manners of legal professionals in Barbados.

    @Hants | February 4, 2012 at 3:55 PM | “@Shakaelu, Name one good “Business” Lawyer in Barbados.”

    Allow me: Mr Edmund King Q.C., Mr Maurice King Q.C., Mrs Beverley Walrond Q.C., Mr Hal Gollop, Mr Vernon Smith Q.C.

    Oops, sorry, I forgot. According to the Registrar, these no longer practice law, being either deceased or having been disbarred.


  12. @Hants

    I thinky u mean modernise our thinking, and not our courts, we have a modern building in white park road, with lovely machinery and thing, i happened to visit it sometime.

    The problem is, lack of professionalism among officers who are paid by the crown, as well as some indifferent lawyers who receive their education at taxpayer’s espense.


  13. @The Scout | February 4, 2012 at 12:58 PM |
    Your last statement is right on key

    @robert ross | February 4, 2012 at 3:25 PM |
    You could not have said it better.

    If I were Mr Austin, I would embarrass and publish the names of the law firms and/or attorneys. That way, potential clients would/might have second thoughts about doing business with them.

    Although we should not paint all attorneys with the same brush, it is obvious that they are breathing in the same air. I am of the belief that many, if not most, of the attorneys in Barbados would NEVER change their habits if they are NOT WILLING to acknowledge their flaws.


  14. This from the current issue of Canadian Lawyer cover story article The Offshore Banking Nightmare.

    http://www.canadianlawyermag.com/4031/the-offshore-banking-nightmare.html

    “The courts in the Caribbean do not act quickly,” says Finnigan. “It’s exceedingly difficult to get a court date and very difficult to move things along. So you have this sort of 18th- and 19th-century machinery trying to catch up to 20th-century technology of moving funds around with a few keystrokes. So if the money is moved offshore there is no easy way to get your money back. It can be very costly, time-consuming, and frustrating.”


  15. @ David of Pilly

    Yes…he has made a start and a thorough one too…and there is more to come…..if the ‘right’ people will listen……soon we shall know whether they are just Honorary Rotarians or really serious about the justice system.

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