BVI News

Firms should stop favouring expat lawyers over local ones

Government legislator Neville ‘Sheep’ Smith

Territorial At-Large Representative Neville ‘Sheep’ Smith has called out some local law firms he said are treating expat attorneys better than local attorneys.

Smith said expat attorneys are given priority for top jobs and more attractive packages while local attorneys are often told they aren’t qualified.

“We cannot afford to let other lawyers come here and overshadow our lawyers when they have the same qualifications. We keep saying we want our people to work and do things but we have to back them. We have to create some ways these lawyers could get the same benefit that expat lawyers are getting. When these lawyers come here, they come to get experience from us and most times they leave and go on to open their own law firms,” Smith explained.

He said some local firms are overlooking local lawyers and are recruiting from the Caribbean and the UK; using the excuse that local lawyers don’t have the experience.

“We have to do something about it. I saw a lawyer who was given a scholarship to go abroad and do her Masters and she went to get study leave and she didn’t get it. But another expat lawyer asked for study leave and got it. That isn’t right. Those are the kinds of things that are happening to our lawyers,” Smith revealed.

The BVI’s financial services industry attracts a lot of lawyers from around the world. But Smith said more needs to be done to create a level playing field where local attorneys are protected and given the same opportunities as their expat colleagues.

“I’m not saying the lawyers who come here don’t deserve to get something, but lawyers here also deserve something as well. I’m not going to sit here in this Honourable House and watch while we send our people to be educated and when they come back they play second fiddle to anyone else,” Smith said.

The Fahie-led administration has been urging employers to recruit locally since the start of their term. However, the appetite for expat talent remains rich in the BVI, as some imported talents draw lower compensation packages while others are thought to have more experience to fill the gaps in the local market.


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  1. Rizzo says:

    So who is it handling the COI for the Government?

    Like 52
    Dislike 1
  2. COI = Expat Lawyer says:

    Sheep really be saying anything

    Like 30
  3. Glass House says:

    This is just rich coming from people who hire a white man UK lawyer to defend them from the COI instead of a local.

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  4. Ridiculous says:

    English speaking lawyers everywhere are hired based on qualifications and experience only. It does not matter where you were born, grew up or your surname.

    Like 43
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  5. lol says:

    Put them in court! Aren’t they lawyers?

  6. LG says:

    Well how about the Government hiring a UK attorney, instead of a local one ??????

    Like 36
    • truth says:

      A case of such magnitude you need experience lawyers to deal with such inquiry.

      We are being inquired by the UK therefore it will make sense to higher a UK law firm who is verse in this nature to work along the AG office in the BVI in our defence.

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  7. Jah says:

    Blah blah blah

    The same xenophobic, racist, nationalist party line our leaders are known for.

    How about basing merit and compensation on SKILL, EDUCATION, EXPERIENCE, etc. Not because you are from here. And leveling the playing field helps no one – it’s called capitalism. But we all know BVI has failed Econ 101.


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    • Fake Documents says:

      A lot of these outside lawyers come from their countries with fake documents; and the locals, who are not even lawyers, have to show them the ropes

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  8. What!!!’ says:

    “The Fahie led administration has been urging employers to recruit localy” Really where does the Fahie led administration lawyer for the COI come from ??? Do as I say not as I do administration.

    Like 35
  9. Styles. says:

    Hello little lamb

    Perhaps it is time for you to speak to your local students and local talents to stop asking for so much.

    It all starts with giving, giving your time, giving your effort, giving your best to achieve goals.

    There is a big problem with a sense of entitlement that exists with local talents. And hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work had.

    So stop asking for so much, tell them to work hard and give their best. If you want international experience, go and get it don’t ask for it.

    If you want to study abroad? Go get it, stop asking for it.

    Stop asking for things and start investing in yourself.

    Like 30
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  10. itstime says:

    Neville ‘Sheep’ Smith, You are now telling people who they should use to represent them. Unless you are going to stop giving work permits to overseas lawyers you are going to sit in the house and watch. These are your words, Think before you speak. I’m not going to sit here in this Honourable House and watch while we send our people to be educated and when they come back they play second fiddle to anyone else,” Smith said. What are you going to do about it?

    Seems to me that your government is always employing overseas lawyers to do their work.

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  11. Well says:

    This cry has to be across the board. For years persons in various industries (especially Sailing, Tourism, Trust) have been underpaid and treated like crap.

    They say we are not qualified so we go and get second and third degrees, certifications and diplomas only to be passed over because we lack experience or what ever they convenient excuse they can find.

    Honourable Smith you guys are the legislators and can put policies in place to protect our people.

    Start with a proper Labour structure. One that is for and of the people.

    See the problem is the very people that are to protect us and ensure we are treat3d fairly are in bed with the persons who are oppressing us. They are their Rotary, Lions Clud, Church …. both hers and sisters. They travel in the circle that the everyday common persons are not afforded.

    It all starts with the head and then it trickles down, so we this with you learned honorables to fix.

    Do what we puh ayo deh fa!

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    • @Well says:

      The world over you will find that qualifications are worth nothing if they are not backed up by practical experience, so go and study for your law degree in the UK and then stay there a few years and get some post-qualification experience, before heading back to the BVI. Then you will be equal to the expat lawyers that come here.

      Like 19
    • 007 says:

      Everyone wants a head start over the competition . Me because I am young, old, gay, female, white, black, yellow, tall, short, barn here.

  12. How should I say this says:


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    • Will agree to that says:

      The above mentioned is a good local Attorney. Can’t say the same for all local Attorneys.

    • Hilda says:

      One case!

      • @Hilda says:

        This is precisely the reason local professionals not just lawyers don’t make it where they should. There is most times another local trying to pull them down. The expats are not your problem. You are your own problem. Bad mind, jealousy and envy among yourselves is your problem. You can’t find it within yourselves to pay a genuine compliment to another local. It is a sickness of some type if you ask me.

  13. heckler says:

    didn’t the VIP recently hired an expat lawyer to defend them? Isn’t there a local who could defend them? I wish i could’ve called him a krook?

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  14. Two Faced says:

    BVI government will be paying for the services of the law firm Withers and its leading counsel, Sir Geoffrey Cox

    Like 14
  15. Double Standard says:


    You surprised me but then again school children say otherwise. I understand one term cry because his *** is an attorney. Lovely young woman ? and l would defend just like how he defending for local lawyers to get the same amount of experience and attractive packages as expat lawyers.

    Deputy Speaker my question to you is who local have you hired for security company? ???.

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  16. A real sheep says:

    Mr. Sheep, ask your gorvernment the same question. I understand it’s 5 million dollars that this UK law firm was hired for to represent the government in the COI. Why didn’t you guys choose a local lawyer to represent the government? We have local QC’s here as well. As usual you engage your mouth before you engage your brain.

    Like 22
  17. @Hmmm says:

    His wife is a lawyer from where?

    Sheepless go sit down.

    Like 19
  18. Ausar says:

    And I agree with you,”Heckler”!

    The government has been the greatest hypocrite with regards to supporting their own!

    Just look at the Barrister matter. I blame the government for the mistreatment of local lawyers.

    Start to hire local lawyers for ALL of your affairs, Premier Fahie, and the people will find follow!

    Be the example Premier Fahie, that you want others to follow!

    Like 12
  19. Hmmm says:

    Discrimination against local lawyers in BVI has been ripe and rottening issue. 99% of the local lawyers who get ahead are:

    1 not really local at all, just Johnney come latelys from down island classified as locals DO THE SURVEY
    2 Kiss a** and groveling ones
    3 do anything hmm ones
    4 dangerous crabbs in the bucket and cut other local throats ones
    5 tail between legs take shxt get the money and stay deprived and depressed ones

    Those law firms are mine fields and battle fields against locals by design. Sheep know it and now like in Tyler Perry’s movie he knows even better now.

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    • @Hmmm says:

      So why don’t they set up their own firms, make their own rules and put their qualifications to work? I don’t understand what your argument is really? It’s either you are very qualified and can prove it by starting your own firm or you do what’s needed when working for someone else’s firm, that is life, it’s not a fairy tale wonderland where because you’re a local you get a degree and all will be happily ever after. Stop making excuses, we all came from somewhere, persons that have been here consistently for 25 years plus with no criminal record and paying their share are LOCALS! It’s funny that someone that went to Primary School here and moved away, whenever they become popular we are quick to claim them but even quicker to call down the people that made here their home for decades and made their contributions.

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  20. entertainment says:

    I’m only here for the hilarious comments to make my day cause nothing else interesting is going on.

  21. hmmm says:

    Maybe you should start by ensuring that there are not too many lawyers coming in on work permits in the first place. You all are issuing work permits for lawyers with no prior experience or one or two years experience. If you make work permits unavailable for those with less then three years experience then you are ensuring that when BVIslanders come back from study they are able to get jobs. When they get jobs they get experience so voila! – no firm can then say to them they have no experience. End of problem!
    But as always the government is passing the buck on responsibility! You can’t issue work permits to every tom, dick, harry and jane and then tell firms who to give opportunities to when you have already taken the opportunity away as it relates to locals!

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    • Haha says:

      Sorry you haven’t worked out what will happen if you make it even more difficult for people to do business here. HK, Cayman, Guernsey etc all looking forward to BVI chasing the rest of their clients away.
      It’s already far more difficult to attract an expat lawyer here, keep them here and get them through the third world red tape every year compared to hiring a local. Any firm when presented with a local of talent and work ethic will take them every time. Fact is we are a tiny village and even if every school leaver chose law and was excellent, we’d need extra numbers from outside.
      There is zero benefit to the BVI in being difficult to our expatriate members of the community. Ask Bahamas about their industry that migrated swiftly to Cayman and grew exponentially there. Oops.

      Like 2
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      • @haha says:

        I’m not sure how much you know about Cayman Islands but any recruiter will tell you that it’s difficult for anyone with less than 2 years experience to get a work permit in the CIs. On top of this or maybe because of this, and unlike in the BVI, the offshore firms in CIs offer Caymanians bursaries and scholarships to study law abroad. Any reason the same firms are not offering these opportunities through their BVI offices? Foreign lawyers will always see the benefits here because they will not make this much money and they certainly won’t move up the career ladder as quickly, not without having zero work/like balance.

  22. Truth says:

    Government after Government continue to set up the BVI youth for failure. Spend hundreds of thousands on scholarships but there isn’t a proper system set up in terms of awarding these scholarships and best placements. Here we are as a UK dependent Territory and you’re telling me that we cannot work out a program where UK graduates are given opportunities to gain experience at UK firms before returning to the BVI? There are many local lawyers that are Partners and Senior Associates in their firms. There are also locals that OWN their own firms and doing fine for themselves. They will all tell you that they didn’t get to where they are by simply being a Belonger, but by hard work, grit and being consistent. The only thing promised to a Belonger is the OPPORTUNITY TO DO WELL, everything else comes down to hard work.

    The irony of it all is when Myron stood in HOA and told Belongers we need to step up and that Government will not be able to protect them or help them in everything, you have to work hard, prepare yourself, take risks etc. and everyone went for his throat. Now here we are talking nonsense to our people, turning them into victims instead of doing the right thing. Are there some unfairness in the work places? OF COURSE, it happens every where. But don’t tell me that a local qualified Lawyer with experience, work ethic, drive etc. is out there looking for work because I find that very hard to believe. Lastl if there are locals that feel too qualified for their posts then they should venture out and set up their own firm, I guarantee then they will find out of they’re really worth what they think. It’s time to get serious and tell the truth, that’s how we will help our people. The sweet lies is what will keep us down.

  23. Bothered says:

    I am a local and I will treat expats better too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    All these local lawyers do is get together and sell out your case. As bunch of hypocrites. I need a lawyer right now and trust me it wouldn’t be a local one.

    Like 4
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  24. Shaft says:

    As two faced and couple of others have said its seems very strange ( hiring people who they say is ( racist ) to represent you against the same people who is so racist is really mind boggling – look at the amount of $$$$ that thrown away in an attempt to flex their muscles on ( vanterpool ) how come they could not give that money to a local lawyer which would of been well spent in promoting local talent in THE BVI ?

  25. 2cents says:

    Sounds like race baiting to me

  26. Hmm says:

    I dont understand so why is your Government giving out Belonger status to these people left right and center why!

  27. Sheep says:

    Bit of a disclosure required Sheep?

    She’s a terrific girl, but I think you should note that it is possible to get a great job, without different treatment.

    It is a crying shame that the biggest and oldest BVI based international firm ran an apartheid system on pay for so many years. Presumably Sheep knows having previously worked with them. I can see that would hurt.

    Agreed that we need to do better in developing our own.

    Like 2
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  28. Smh says:

    That’s rich coming from the government who recently hired overseas counsel in response to the COI enquiry. It’s the hypocrisy for me.

  29. Concerned says:

    Do we always need the government to tell us how to conduct and run our businesses ? Stay out of my business and I’ll stay out of yours.

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