Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Senator the Hon. Kathy Simmons, JP said today, "The Ministry of Legal Affairs is proud to be the training ground for Bermudians. I am pleased to highlight the opportunities afforded to Bermudians by the Ministry of Legal of Affairs Pupillage Programme. The aim of the Programme is to train prospective Barristers with a view to honing their legal skills to a competent level of professionalism and recruiting promising new attorneys to join the Government’s legal teams.
In order for a person to be admitted to the Bermuda Bar to practice as a barrister and attorney, they must first undergo and complete a period of practical training of not less than 12 months. This training is known as a pupillage and was formalised under the tenure of a former Attorney-General, Dame Lois Browne-Evans. A number of successful participants of the Programme have moved to the private sector or remained with the Ministry.
Pupillage within the Ministry of Legal Affairs provides pupils with an opportunity to work under the supervision of a designated barrister known as a Pupil Master. The Pupil Masters for the 2018/2019 Pupillage Program are Deputy Solicitor General (Shakira Dill-Francois); Crown Counsel (Lauren Sadler-Best); Crown Counsel Specialist (Larissa Burgess); and Crown Counsel (Maria Sofianos).
Under the guidance and supervision of a Pupil Master, the pupil is provided training and experience in the different areas of legal practice within the Ministry, namely the Attorney-General’s Chambers’ Civil Litigation and Advisory Section; the Legislative Drafting Section; the Department of Public Prosecutions and the Legal Aid Office.
The ultimate intent of the Pupillage Program is to ensure that a pupil gains comprehensive experience to successfully meet the rigors of professional practice to an outstanding degree of competency upon being called to the Bar.
Training highly skilled Bermudians is my priority. In a climate where well educated Bermudians have found it difficult to get their foot in the door, and the hiring of non-Bermudian counsel continues to grow, this vital programme was allowed to languish over the past five years.
In keeping with this Government’s pledge to increase apprenticeships and training for Bermudians, we have allocated funding to ensure capable, talented people like Tine’ Tucker, Jason Outerbridge, Janae Nesbitt and Shi-Vaughn Lee, who have joined me today, receive the professional guidance which will enable them to take their rightful places within the legal community; whether it is within the Attorney-General’s Chamber’s, the Department of Public Prosecutions, the Judiciary or the private sector. It is anticipated that the continued success of the Pupilage Program will ultimately impact Government’s legal outsourcing dependency by cultivating a culture of legal expertise that will domestically meet the demand for such services.
Tine’ Tucker outlined what this opportunity means to her, she said “I had been knocking at this door for two years when I received confirmation that my application for this training opportunity had been successful. The exposure throughout the programme has been phenomenal to date and I am grateful for the opportunity to learn! The investment by the Ministry, in this particular way, has made all the sacrifices and hard work over the past decade worthwhile.”
Jason Outerbridge stated, “The opportunity to take up pupillage within the Ministry of Legal Affairs represents the capstone on my professional training and development which will allow me to stand rightfully with my learned legal peers at the Bermuda Bar. Pupillage has eluded me because after completing solicitor qualification there were no government pupil posts being offered. I have always been committed to a career in the public service, so instead of pupillage, I pursued post-graduate research in Bermuda Constitutional law and social justice and then served as the first Assistant Information Commissioner for Bermuda. I was instrumental in instituting the practical and regulatory framework under the new Public Access to Information Act (PATI) — a law that touches every corner of government. I am ever-grateful that this government has recognized the benefit to the public service, and Bermuda, by allowing existing Bermudian public officers to participate in the pupil programme. I most look forward to gaining direct mentorship by the finest government lawyers who have pledged to support our development over the next 12 months.”
Janae Nesbitt commented, “After years of education and hustling to help my parents put me through school, obtaining the pupillage post within the Ministry of Legal Affairs was not just a breath of fresh air, but for the first time ever I felt like all of the stress and sleepless nights in University had finally paid off. The pupillage program has provided opportunities to gain valuable knowledge and experience while working continually within the Legal Fraternity. This pupillage has made me realize and understand how important it is to gain confidence and proficiency through learning how to properly advocate throughout the Bermuda Courts System. It has also allowed me to gain excellent communication skills while transitioning throughout the Departments of Legal Affairs.”
-Shi-Vaughn Lee gave this perspective, “The opportunity to do my pupillage within the Ministry of Legal Affairs allows me to show my appreciation for the investment Government made in me just over 4 years ago. In 2014, I was selected as a Government Scholar and provided significant funding towards my education. Having completed my studies this July and being granted the opportunity to start my pupillage almost immediately upon my return with Government means everything to me. I am eternally grateful.”