FRIDAY, JULY 13: “Lawyers are operators of toll bridges which anyone in search of justice must pass.” — Jane Bryant Quinn
I was drawn to the law because it is a profession that allows me to hone skills that I already possess, namely being a voracious reader, very analytical and one who likes to make a case (aka argue).
I was also drawn to the law because it is a profession steeped in history and tradition; in Bermuda, we still wear the traditional wig and gown in the Supreme Court (civil and criminal divisions); a feature I am fond of.
Moreover, the law is a profession that helps people, which is something that I deeply respect.
Seeing the law at work has shown me how important it is for people to know their legal rights.
Being able to assist and provide a service is extremely rewarding.
For most people, interacting with the law can be very stressful and it is gratifying to see that nervousness and uncertainty dissipate because of the advice that a client has received.
For those interested in qualifying as a lawyer and practicing in Bermuda, there are several academic options available.
Bermudians can study in any Commonwealth jurisdiction, including Canada or the UK.
I chose to study in London, UK, after completing a Bachelor of Arts honours degree in Women’s Studies and Spanish, in Canada.
If you choose to study in the UK, you will need to complete a Bachelor of Laws degree (LL.B). An LL.B degree can be obtained in three years once you have completed high school.
If you already have a first degree from a university you can complete the LL.B in two years, which is what I did, or you can complete the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) in one year.
Both the LL.B and GDL courses cover the seven core subjects required for a law degree, with the option of taking electives.
After the successful completion of the LL.B or the GDL, students enrol on a vocational course — either the Legal Practice Course (LPC), the postgraduate programme for solicitors, or the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC), the postgraduate programme for barristers.
Both courses last one year and expose a student to the practical side of the profession (ie. client conferences, drafting, advocacy, etc).
In the UK, a solicitor handles more commercial or private client work, while barristers typically focus on advocacy, appearing in court and drafting documents.
In Bermuda we have a fused system as there is no distinction, so an individual can pursue either vocational course and return to Bermuda to practice.
Upon completing your education in the UK, the final step is to complete a pupillage or training contract with a firm or chambers in Bermuda, or the country in which you studied.
This perhaps, will be the most enlightening part of your journey, as it will expose you to various areas of law and practice styles.
If you choose to complete your pupillage or training contract in the UK, you must ensure you fulfil the requirements to be called to the Bermuda Bar if you decide to return to practice here.
Beyond formal education, I would also recommend being involved in extracurricular activities such as mooting, pro bono work, your law school’s Law Society, and the Law Students’ Association of Bermuda.
These involvements will round out your student legal experience and give you insight into the law at work, all the while further assisting your skill development which will ultimately complement your practice.
For more information go to www.bermudabar.org or www.lsabermuda.com.
• Kimberley D. Caines is an associate at MJM Ltd’s litigation practice group. She is also a duty counsel with the Legal Aid office for Magistrates’ and Supreme Court. Ms Caines was the recipient of the Mello Jones & Martin Legal Scholarship Award in 2009. She joined the firm as a pupil in 2010, becoming an associate in 2012. She was appointed a Blackstone Fellow in 2009 and is a Toastmaster, having achieved the competent communicator award. Contact 292-1345 or go to http://mjm.bm for more information.