Monday, 10 October 2011

St Hugh's Past Students Among the Tremendous 2011 Law School Group

St Hugh's Past Students Among the Tremendous 2011 Law School Group

Members of the St Hugh's High School family were among the hundreds of well-wishers who turned out for the the presentation of graduates from the Norman Manley Law School (NMLS) on October 8 2011 in the Assembly Hall of the University of the West Indies, Mona in Jamaica.

The Edwards twins.
Second year student Kerri and graduate Laura 

At least two of the class of 128 students were identified as past students. They are Miss Laura Edwards - daughter of English teacher Ms Edwards - and Mrs Leone Hines-Smith.

The members of the Council of Legal Education, other leading Attorneys-at-law and Custodes were assured that the graduates are fit and ready to serve.

In his remarks, Principal of the school, Professor Stephen Vasciannie, noted that the class of 2011 brought the school great joy. He said that the school's moot teams took 1st, 1st, 3rd and 4th in International competitions. And 1st, 2nd and 2nd in the Region. The class was considered to be socially involved as expressed by the strong support they gave to several non-scholastic activities, including cultural events. At least two graduates have also been accepted on full scholarships by prestigious institutions to pursue advanced education in the law.

La Familia Fidelitas
From left: First year student Alicia Dixon, retired Deputy Principal, Daphnie Morrison; teacher and mother of the Edwards twins Ms Edwards; second year student, Karlene Mitchell; second year student, Kerri Edwards; graduate Laura Edwards; retired English teacher, Jacqueline Cousins.
     In his address, Minister of Justice, Delroy Chuck, urged the graduates to "Serve the interests of your clients; but above all, serve the interest of must be paramount."

The legislator said that the country had good judges and lawyers and urged the group to respect their peers and seniors, and reminded them that the law is a practice and that they will not know everything in the field.

Minister Chuck openly admitted that the country's justice system is not perfect and urged the new legal minds not to succumb to corruption and not to serve in the chambers of lawyers who were known to be associated with wrongdoing. The minister, who is also a graduate of the NMLS, urged the classmates to join the government's efforts to improve delivery of justice noting that there was a backlog of some 460,000 cases in the courts.

Elizabeth Levy (l) supporting graduate
and St Hugh's classmate,
Leone Hinds-Smith

He noted that many lawyers were searching for jobs and suggested that the areas of mediation, dispute resolution and international commercial law could be viable areas to pursue.

Minister Chuck said that the field of mediation allowed new lawyers to gain valuable experience and also to expand their network of contacts. He also reminded them that a few months ago the 
Financial Services Authority Act was passed, paving the way for more legal work in international trade and business.

The building of Justice Square in Downtown Kingston and improvements to existing court houses were some of the projects Minister Chuck said were being pursued by the government. He however also noted that increasing the number of court staff and exposing them to additional training was also important if the goal is to expand the number of court hours beyond the average of five hours per business day.  

Minister Chuck said that the new lawyers will have to be courageous and try new things to make the country's justice situation better. He reminded the group of the pioneering work of National Hero, the Rt Excellent Norman Washington Manley, and that they should push the work of the school forward in their time.

In her response, Valedictorian Kamille Adair thanked the Principal for telling them always to banish self doubt. She urged her classmates to "maintain a prevailing attitude of excellence and make a contribution to society." 

Ms Adair had many happy recollections, but also took the time to remember classmate Mrs Karen Hugh Sam Lee who was killed. The class created a memorial fund in her name through which they will provide financial assistance to future students.

In her final remarks, the Chairman of the Council of Legal Education, Jacqueline Samuels Brown, urged the graduates who hailed from six Caribbean territories, Israel and the USA to take heed of the words of the Jamaica National Anthem  and "Let justice and truth be yours forever."

Gwyneth Harold is the writer of the young adult novel, Bad Girls in School