Former educator, Mrs. Maria Jackson-Richards, on Tuesday 28th July 2020, had her lifelong dream realised when she was called to the Bar of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines before Her Ladyship Hon. Justice Nicola Byer of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court.
Having submitted her resignation letter, signalling the official end of her teaching career at the end of the 2016 school year, Mrs Jackson-Richards took the first step in the right direction when she enrolled and started pursuing her legal studies in the United Kingdom.
After the successful completion of her studies, she was called to the Bar of England and Wales, through the Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn, in 2019 and went on to be called to the Bar in the British Virgin Islands in March 2020 whilst she was actively engaged in completing her pupillage at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions – National Prosecution Service (ODPP-NPS) of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, which she started in November 2019.
The application for Mrs Jackson – Richards’ Call to the Bar of SVG was moved by the Learned Director of Public Prosecutions Ms Sejilla Mc Dowall and seconded by Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Mrs Tammika Da Silva – Mc Kenzie, a former student of the newest member of the local legal fraternity.
According to DPP Mc Dowall, for her, “it was a first to move a Call from the premises of the Office of the DPP in a room … by way of zoom”. Due to Covid-19 safety and security measures, the Call was conducted virtually via the Zoom platform.
In submissions, aimed at urging the Court to grant Mrs Jackson – Richards’ admission to the roll of Barristers and Solicitors registered to practise law in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, DPP Mc Dowall noted that “Mrs. Jackson traded in her teacher’s desk for the bar table [which, though different,] are quite similar vocations – they are both honourable professions, scholarly, service oriented, highly demanding but ultimately rewarding disciplines.”
DPP Mc Dowall applauded the quality of Mrs Jackson-Richards’ opinions and judgment. “Her ethos is unquestionable; her journey to this point is commendable. I have no doubt that this teacher, this wife, this mother, friend, colleague, will serve well as an Officer of the Court, a Minister of Justice, as barrister and solicitor in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. DPP Mc Dowall concluded: “Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it – Proverbs 3:27”
Assistant DPP Da Silva – Mc Kenzie in brief endorsing comments of Mrs Jackson as a fit and suitable candidate to be called to the local Bar, apart from her qualifications, reflected on the admiration she shared for the former teacher’s command of English twenty-five (25) years prior and her belief that Mrs Jackson-Richards’ eloquence will be a force to be reckoned with, as she contributes to the justice sector, as Barrister and Solicitor of the State.
Granting the Order, Her Ladyship, Hon. Justice Byer congratulated Counsel Jackson-Richards and stated that the ODPP-NPS is a great place for her to start her career; you will get baptised by fire but it is a great place to learn; you will have the most opportunities to think quickly on your feet and hone your advocacy skills; there’s great opportunity for research and though you are not able to prepare for every eventuality, your skills would be sharpened, because there is almost always certainly some kind of surprise that shows up in Criminal cases.
Counsel Jackson-Richards in her maiden speech expressed thanks to Her Ladyship for accommodating the application, DPP Mc Dowall for the opportunity to do her in-service training at the ODPP-NPS and moving the Call, ADPP Da Silva – Mc Kenzie for seconding the Call and her many supporters en route to her journey especially her family members, friends and colleagues at the ODPP-NPS who offered guidance and words of encouragement as she pursued her dream birthed since she was a fifteen year old, sixth former at the St. Vincent Grammar School.
At that stage, she decided to teach for five years to assist her to gain the necessary finances to pursue her studies; but five years multiplied many times over as according to her, “teaching …was not just a job. It was a vocation. Moulding young minds, writing on these little peoples’ value sheet was something I took very seriously.”
Reflecting on her journey, Counsel Jackson-Richards recounted: “Law school was intense. I realized very early that I had to hit the ground running and did just that through extra hours of immense additional reading and research. As I officially commence my career as a lawyer in SVG, I do so cognizant of the standards set by my predecessors. I will strive to uphold the other tenets of this honourable profession and to raise the bar higher by being a lawyer with high ethical standards.
I intend to build a solid reputation that encompass honesty, respect for all and practice with biblical integrity.” Counsel Jackson-Richards is enthusiastic about her future in which she hopes to positively impact lives as she did in her former career as an educator and will continue to serve the State as a Crown Counsel.