Mr Harry B. Sands – A Tribute
Colleagues of Mr. Harry B. Sands of top Nassau law firm, Harry B Sands, Lobosky and Company spoke warmly of the firm’s founder, describing him as industrious, distinguished, and a genuine gentleman.
Usually soft spoken, he could lay down the law when moved to do so and as a consequence, his indelible leadership-style is described as akin to an iron hand in a velvet glove. Harry led by example, exhibiting a quiet determination and strength of character that demanded excellence and courtesy of himself and others in their day-to-day dealings within the firm. His strict moral code and successful commercial business track record resonated with his colleagues and helped set the standard for professionalism and quality, excellence and civility, the core values of Harry B Sands, Lobosky and Company today.
Harry was very quiet in and around the office but his presence mattered and was felt – it was a positive, stabilizing influence. His door was always ‘open’ so his motivational and wise mentoring was available to all who cared to knock. And if anyone needed research, Harry was the best man for the job! He was extremely thorough and a wealth of knowledge.
He didn’t want or need the lime light as he preferred the quiet confines of his offices to attend to his business. His subtle leadership was more in line with coaching from the back line and for him it was always ‘the less said the better’. Harry had a sharp and often disarming sense of humour. He was good at reading people too, quickly sizing them up and getting a sense of their metal. He’d learnt over the years how to get the best out of people to benefit his clients. Hence, his exceptional talent as a negotiator was subtle and polite but compelling and effective nonetheless.
It all began…
Harry B. Sands assumed responsibility for his father’s law practice in the 1950’s. His father, Harry P. Sands Barrister-at-Law is a descendant of Peter Sands whose fame rose with his prominence when King George VI of England accepted a recommendation that he become The Bahamas’ government officer for Eleuthera. The late Paul Adderley once regaled that when distinguishing between the two lawyers in the early days, the clarification was often “Harry Pa” or “Harry Boy”?
Harry’s first chambers were above CIBC Bank on the corner of Parliament and Shirley Streets. Having been instrumental in bringing the Canadian institution to The Bahamas, he served on their Board for many years.
For nearly fifteen years Harry had just one Associate, Leon Poitier, a solicitor from the United Kingdom. Their specialty was commercial law: trademarks, property transactions, mortgages, conveyances and the like, which kept them busy enough that they never got into the usual litigation practice for which lawyers are best known.
However, an extraordinary opportunity presented itself in 1991 when a young lawyer, Keith Duncombe, approached Harry with the idea that he should add a litigation department. A merger was suggested between Harry B. Sands and two other former partners from the law firm of Dupuch and Turnquest. The three litigation lawyers had recently dissolved their partnership in Dupuch and Turnquest and a merger with Harry looked appropriate, given the firm’s current service portfolio that did not include litigation. Harry was receptive to the idea as long as they were amenable to an application being submitted to the authorities for Leon Poitier to be granted improved employment and residency tenure in the form of Permanent Residency with the Right to Work.
With the newly expanded partnership Harry B. Sands Law moved to a new and more salubrious address, 50 Shirley Street, Nassau, now 253 Shirley Street and the young Keith Duncombe went on to‘take silk’ with the title of Queen’s Counsel in 1994..
Harry was regarded as having the largest trademark and intellectual property practice in the country. His expertise was noted and revered in the industry as the ‘go-to guy’ for all things in commercial law outside of litigation. In his own way, he helped to advance the country by advising and securing funding for many small and large commercial entities. He assisted many people. Carl G. Treco of CGT Contractors was one such person. When Carl first moved from Long Island to New Providence, Harry assisted him in setting up in business and arranging the necessary financing to get started.
Although he was the consummate attorney who was dedicated to his practice, and the care of his clients, Harry had hobbies to which he was equally attentive in his spare time. His chambers provides ample clues to one of his passions, in particular – periodicals and books on shooting! He loved to shoot and was a crack shot, only slowing the frequency of his sporty outings in his late 80’s. He and his wife, also a good shot, travelled extensively to organized shoots in Uruguay, Spain, Denmark and Scotland during his annual month-long holiday. They travelled and made friends and connections in some powerful circles. The spinoff was not too dissimilar to a modern-day advertising or Social Media campaign, gaining the firm over the years, international and professional kudos and business. Ferron Bethell, one of the early litigation Partners was also a shooting aficionado and crack shot and was frequently invited on these trips.
He loved wood carving too, and was extremely good. He made beautiful pieces of furniture and decorator’s pieces. He’d take Fridays off from the office in order to devote two consecutive painstaking days fashioning native woods into forever-pieces for his friends and loved ones.
He was also an avid stamp collector and most likely, the foremost collector of Bahamian stamps in the country. It is said that his collection, which was called the Staircase Collection, was only rivalled by that of Queen Elizabeth II. It was a standout which was admired and envied by other philatelists who wanted to see it. Consequently, the collection became a popular exhibit on its many world tours. In 1997 succumbing to some persistent collectors, the Staircase Collection was dismantled and sold reaching a princely cumulative sum!
In 2001 the Harry B Sands’ partners agreed to another merger with the established and reputable husband and wife law firm of Sarah and Dr. Lobosky. New signs and letterheads, heralded the launch of a name change from Harry B. Sands and Company to Harry B. Sands, Lobosky and Company. The company grew in stature and in employees and lawyers.
Harry Sands chose to retire at the end of December 2016, but up until then he would be in the office every day at 7:00 am except Friday. Friday was always his woodworking day.
Law Partner Chinique Pratt-Kemp who worked closely with Harry B from 1997 had this to say of her colleague and mentor:
“One of the highlights of my career as an Attorney has been the opportunity to work with and learn from Mr. Harry B. Sands who has always been approachable, willing to give guidance and share his knowledge of the law.”
“Mr. Sands is a very polite and unassuming gentleman but he is also an icon of integrity and hard work.”
“Over the years, he has consistently demonstrated uncompromising business ethics and exemplary leadership. I can truly say that he played a significant role in grooming me to be the sound professional that I am today.”
His daughter, Shelly made these warm and loving remarks about her father:
“It’s said we only appreciate the traits of our parents when we become parents ourselves. As a teacher, mother and grandmother with both my parents still living, I realize how lucky and privileged I have been to witness Dad’s integrity, fairness, kindness and calmness, not only during my childhood but all through my adult life. Any of these attributes are fine individual virtues. Dad is the epitome of all four. I’m honoured to be his daughter. It’s a pleasure and honour for his grandchildren and great-grandchildren to have the opportunity to share his life.”