Nelson admitted to practise law as a barrister, solicitor
November 9, 2012

Nelson admitted to practise law as a barrister, solicitor

Kareeem Nelson had ample reason to go down the path of self destruction. In fact, he was already halfway there. His mother migrated while he was still a baby, and he only got to know his father well at the age of nine.{{more}} He strayed from the values his grandparents instilled as a young child; he rebelled against their authority and also against the authority of his school teachers. Slowly but surely, he was inching towards that precipice of destruction.

Today, Nelson, 26, is an attorney-at-law and was admitted to practice law as a barrister and solicitor in the state of St Vincent and the Grenadines on Friday, November 2, at the High Court.

Nelson’s application was presented by Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Colin Williams and seconded by Samantha Robertson of Robertson and Robertson Chambers. High Court judge, Frederick Bruce-Lyle presided over the matter, which was well attended by family members, including Nelson’s grandmother, Hermina Nelson and friends.

Nelson, fighting back the tears, said the two main persons who, despite his early deviant ways, who helped him to become the person who he is today, are his grandparents.

“Who can find a virtuous woman? My Lord, I am pleased to announce that I know such a woman. Her name is Mrs. Hermina Nelson, my beloved grandmother.

I thank her today for the values she instilled in me; for the unrelenting support and love throughout my 26 years and, I thank her for never giving up on me. I love you Granny!… I want also to thank my grandfather, Mr. Litton Nelson, for teaching me the value of hard work and for being a great role model to me. He didn’t live to see this day, but I want to honour his memory. He remains forever immortalised in my heart,” Nelson said.

The Calder Ridge resident is a past student of the of Calder Government School and had his secondary education at the Bishop’s College Kingstown, before transferring to the Intermediate High School, now known as the Dr J.P. Eustace Memorial Secondary School.

Nelson then went on to the St Vincent and the Grenadines Community College, and upon completion of his studies, he was awarded a National Schloarship.

Nelson then pursued a Bachelor of Laws degree at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill campus, obtaining second class honours in July 2010.

On September 7, 2012, he successfully completed the Legal Education Certificate programme at the Sir Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad.

In his first address before the Bar, Nelson said his call marked the culmination of a five-year long journey to becoming a Barrister–at-law and Solicitor.

As he began to list the names of persons who helped him throughout his academic and personal life, some persons in attendance began crying when they heard Nelson speak of how important these persons were in his development.

Besides his grandmother, Nelson thanked Decima Hamilton, his history lecturer at the Community College and Valerie Joy Cato, former principal of the Bishop’s College Kingstown.

He also thanked the DPP for accepting him as an intern in his office for twelve weeks last year and Luis de Shong, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health, for his unrelenting support and assistance.

Nelson urged persons not to give up on the nation’s youth . “… We give up on them way too easily and are too quick to condemn them as lost causes. I was once one of those so-called lost causes. I was heading ‘full butt’ down the road of destruction… However, I was fortunate enough to have people in life who cared…people who saw the potential in me. They reached out to me and pulled me back from the brink of destruction. So you see, I too could have fallen through the cracks…I too could have been a statistic.”

“…We shouldn’t be too quick to give up on our youths. I am of the firm conviction that If I could become a barrister today, there is yet hope for all of the nation’s youth… I just want to admonish all gathered here to take the time out to listen to the youths, reason with them, try to understand their concerns…don’t condemn them as lost causes – they only become lost causes when you stop trying.”

In presenting his application, the DPP said that his reluctance at the time to accept students for internship was somewhat changed by the fact that Nelson’s performance was “demonstrably exceptional.”

“I think he has renewed in me, the faith and our duty and responsibility to mentor young practitioners. I think he has erased from our experiences, whatever bad knowledge we had prior to him, in terms of student attorneys…,” the DPP said.

Williams also expressed his admiration of Nelson’s way of thinking when it comes to judicial matters. He recalled a case involving Rudolph Lewis and the Queen where the prosecution was seeking the death penalty against Lewis who had murdered his common-law wife.

“He sought to plead guilty, but our presumption was that you can’t plead guilty to murder, more so if you are facing the death penalty…,” the DPP said.

Williams said he carried out research into the matter and got insight that that position was wrong.

“I posed the question to the group (student attorneys), could this person plead guilty and they said no. But Kareem, answered, ‘Why not? he must be entitled to plead guilty…’”

The DPP said Nelson, in a short time, did thorough research and produced a volume of work, which was forwarded to the Court of Appeal, along with skeleton arguments.

“I did the skeleton arguments and he did the research. Were it not for the fact that your claimant was not an attorney, his name would have also appeared on the front of the documents in terms of appearances.

“It is an overpowering joy in my heart and in my soul to be able to have the honour of presenting Kareem this morning…Today, Kareem stands like a beacon. A shining example of what can be achieved with patience, diligence, through commitment. His case was an accident waiting to happen, but he tiptoed through the tulips and avoided all the pitfalls…,” the DPP added.

Nelson’s seconder, Samantha Robertson, described Nelson as a “forthright and understanding person” whom she says possesses the qualities the profession needs.

Justice Bruce-Lyle, said with all that Nelson has faced, it gives him “a lot of hope” for St Vincent and the Grenadines.

“There is still hope for the male gender. This is the first time in a while I am admitting a male to the bar,” Bruce-Lyle said.

He implored the young attorney to never forget his family and not to become arrogant.

“Spread your knowledge, so that this country can turn around and start thinking forward. It is young people like you who have to change the mindsets of the people of this country.

“The message here is that you can always achieve with the little that you have with determination and focus. You are a perfect example of that. Remain humble as you are and do not allow the success to swell your head,” Bruce-Lyle beseeched.