I grew up in the lovely small farming community of Grace in Saint Lucia and at that point I believe we only had one lawyer in the community. For most people in my community, the culture back then was that you take the first job you can get and spend most if not all of a lifetime there. It was the minority who really knew anything about having the choice of a career and the even wilder dream of attending university. However my parents were quite serious about education, knowing first hand the limitations that the lack of it would cause.
"The fight for destiny is a noble one." This quote has marked the way I manage my life. We all seek purpose from our lives whether we know it or not. That can be a difficult journey as life is not void of its problems. On the hard days, viewing that seeking as noble might be just the thing to keep us sane. This understanding led me to question my career choice in 2013 because at that moment I was experiencing extreme burnout from years of unfulfilling accountancy work. As a Christian that naturally led me to speak with God for direction which came in the form of a senior church leader sharing that he felt the Lord spoke that I would study law. The end of the matter saw me pursuing the LLB with BPP University in 2015 as a mature, international, ethnic minority student; many parts of a non-traditional barrister.
In 2019 when I wrote my last paper I had no idea that we were pregnant. I assumed the fatigue was normal because the BPTC is just that taxing. I also thought that I was done with the course. But alas! I needed to resit and that took me straight into 2020- pandemic lockdown life and pregnant. A not-so-funny fact is that I found out I was pregnant a few days within the start of my brand new shiny graduate scheme.
Studying with a newborn made any earlier studying to this point seem like a joke. This included many very late nights and fitting study hours around the baby’s naps. An example would be pumping breast milk while reminding myself of the rules for default judgment. The entire process was exacerbated by anxiety issues which I experienced during pregnancy and post-partum. As I said recently when asked to describe the experience in a few words, despite its unique set of challenges the journey to the bar as a new mom still stands as an extremely fulfilling and highly rewarding achievement because I know what it took to survive. All that being said, it would have been impossible without the support of my husband and his non-traditional, engaging, fully present approach to parenting.
My advice to aspiring barristers is to aim high, be confident in your abilities, grab opportunities with both hands and to be kind to yourself.
Neive is the founder of Align – a diagnostic tool which measures a user's understanding of the process to becoming a barrister, then makes tailored work experience recommendations on that basis. She also authors mylawjourneyblog. To learn more visit: https://alignthebar.co/.
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