History was made earlier yesterday in Bermuda as Ariana Evans Caines, granddaughter to the legendary Dame Lois Browne-Evans, was called to the bar in the very building that bears her grandmother’s name and statue.
In addition to Ms. Caines’ family, former Premiers Dame Jennifer Smith and Paula Cox, Opposition Leader Cole Simons, Reverend Nicholas Tweed, former MP and former Attorney General Michael Scott, President of the Bermuda Bar Association Elizabeth Christopher and many others were present at the ceremony.
Lawyer Kim Wilkerson, who has known Ms. Caines since her birth, imparted a few words of wisdom to the island’s newest lawyer.
“ [Her aunts and I] prayed for this child when we thought that she might not see,” Ms. Wilkerson said. “ I can recall our prayers as circles going around, wishing for her sight, and look what the Lord has done. I am thrilled to welcome her, who was our baby, now as a learned sister.”
Ms. Caines began her bar acceptance speech before Chief Justice Narinder Hargun by telling the courtroom about the problems that she experienced with her eyes and vision at a young age.
“ After my ophthalmologist completed my checkup, he informed me that my consistent headaches were not a side-effect of medication as we had hoped. They looked at me and told me that I had to have another surgery,” she said. “While it would slow the vision loss in my left eye, it would not guarantee that I would not have total blindness in that eye by age 30.”
After hearing that news at age 10, Ms. Caines made a list of things that we wanted to accomplish before her 30th birthday; one of the biggest things on that list was to become a lawyer.
“ I have always held onto the hope that I would, both in the literal and metaphorical sense, see this day, and I am so grateful that I have,” she said.
Ms. Caines thanked the teachers and principal at her alma mater, the Berkeley Institute and her colleagues at the Bermuda Youth Parliament, through which she learned the power of her voice.
“ I am so appreciative of the Youth Parliament leader during my tenure, Senator Owen Darrell, and the Clarke to the Legislature, Ms. Shernette Wolffe, for providing a stimulating and cognitive environment.”
As for fellow lawyers, Ms. Caines first thanked Trott and Duncan, who provided her with a legal education award in 2016, which allowed her to undergo the bar training course, without which she would not be where she is today.
“ I also have immense gratitude towards the Bermuda Bar Association, for the Dame Lois Browne-Evans pupillage award, which gave me the chance to gain Bar experience in England and Wales,” she said.
Other lawyers whom Ms. Caines would like to thank are Trevor Moniz, Susan Mulligan, Michael Scott, Paula Cox, Ombudsman Victoria Pearman and Patricia Harvey, who provided her with her first legal internship, which lasted one month. She also thanked her favorite lawyer in the world, Elizabeth Christopher.
“ The first time that I saw Ms. Christopher in court was like an aspiring performer seeing Prince live; I was starstruck,” she said. “Although it took me years to form full sentences around her, we eventually got to know each other and my pupillage in her chambers were the highlight.”
Ms. Caines also thanked all of her family and friends, both in Bermuda and overseas, including Dame Jennifer Smith.
“Although not officially my godparent, ‘Aunt Jen’ has been one of my cheerleaders and inspirations and has pushed me to complete my dream of becoming a lawyer,” she said.
Ms. Caines gave a special thank you to her mother.
“ She has given everything for me to be here today,” she said. “ She sat with me during the early morning pre-exam nerves, despite the time difference and cried with me during the heartbreak of a poor exam mark–and also a boy.”
“She has shown up for me every single time, so it is only right that I show up for her,” Ms. Caines continued. “ Every exam, every time I step into court, I do so for the sacrifices that my mother made for me to give me the chance to give back to her.”
She ended her acceptance speech in the way that she felt most appropriate–with a tribute to her maternal grandmother, Dame Lois Browne-Evans. She recalls very vividly the day that she told her grandmother that she wanted to become a lawyer, when she was around seven or eight.
“ I told her that I do not want to be a lawyer like [Dame Lois]. You help people; I want to make money. As a response to her cheeky granddaughter, my nana reminded me that in all things, people come first,” she said. “ She never pushed her children to follow in her footsteps nor live in her shadow. She was a humble and personable woman, a woman of the people; so much so that I did not really know who she was until she passed away.”
After being officially called to the bar, Ms. Caines shared her ecstasy and pride with TNN’s Trevor Lindsay.
“ I am incredibly proud to call myself a member of the Bermuda Bar and to be able to do so within the building named after my grandmother. I hope that she is proud,” she said.
As mentioned in her acceptance speech, Ms. Caines hopes to approach the legal profession the same way that her favorite lawyer does.
“[ I hope to have] that level of passion for the job, a level of empathy for clients and a strict sense of accuracy and attention to detail,” she said. “ I wish to bring that to my career and to serve Bermuda in any way that I can.”
Ms. Caines worked as a criminal defense barrister while in the United Kingdom, but has recently developed a very strong interest in financial crime matters, so she will go wherever the profession may take her.
“ My advice to any young aspiring attorneys in Bermuda is to get to know yourself first,” she said. “The journey to the Bar is an emotional journey as much as an academic one, so knowing yourself is the first foundation and the rest will come. There are no mistakes, just new directions.”
To Ms. Caines, “ follow your dreams” means that the road may not be perfect or easy, as hers certainly was not, but that people have to move with strength and resilience.
“ If that means that the dream has to change, then the dream has to change,” she said. “But, put yourself first always and push to be the best version of yourself every single day.”
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