Selvyn Hawkins, attorney with Misick and Stanbrook, is the new president of the Turks and Caicos Islands Bar Council.
Hawkins and several others were elected to the council on Saturday, April 10, during its annual general meeting, which was this year held virtually.
The other appointees are Sarah Knight as vice-president, and Kerchelle Bain, Tremmaine Swann and Desiree Downes as members.
Downes is a Crown officer appointed to the council by Attorney General Rhondalee Braithwaite-Knowles.
Each member is appointed for a period of one year, subject to re-election.
The council also appointed Shantae Francis as treasurer and Chalsianna Misick as secretary for the 2021 to 2022 year.
The new council will meet for the first time on Friday, April 16, to set out its agenda for the year ahead.
The newly installed president spoke with the Weekly News on Wednesday evening, April 14, about some of the plans the council will be looking to implement going forward.
A significant number of those plans involve training for young attorneys and returning law graduates.
The 33-year-old attorney said the hope is to provide at least one year of training for young attorneys, particularly Turks and Caicos Islanders, when they finish school and return to the jurisdiction to lend their skills and education.
Hawkins said ongoing professional development of attorneys is also paramount to the council’s mandate.
“We have a chief justice who is very progressive in what she’s doing in modernising the judiciary. We endorse that wholly.
“I think the bar should follow suit, so we are going to explore ways in which we can assist our local attorneys with their professional development.”
He said the council is also looking to foster stronger relationships with regional legal bodies, exploring regional opportunities.
This will in turn widen the professional capacity and capabilities of TCI lawyers.
The new president is hoping to work with the chief justice to have more attorneys engaged with pro bono work, and coming up with a system that will allow young attorneys to further develop their skills in this way.
Meanwhile, Hawkins wants to make the council more relevant and more in tune with its purpose.
“We realise that the legal professionals’ bar association was created 24 years ago for the purpose of empowering, increasing the presence and involvement of Turks and Caicos Islanders in the legal profession.”
However, he said that when those 24 years are examined – and while the association does have a presence – the question as to whether it is actually empowered to do what it has to is an issue.
Hawkins said next year the council will be 25 years old and his hope is to make it more relevant.
“When you think of young persons like myself, I was in primary school when the bar came into existence… and now is the perfect opportunity for us to take a step back and look at whether we have achieved what we aimed to achieve 24 years ago.
“What do we want to look like 20 years from now? What should the profession look like? And what strategies do we need to put in place from now to help us get there?”
Hawkins follows in the footsteps of current Magistrate Oreika Selver-Gardiner (immediate past president), attorneys Jonathan Katan, Bianca Harvey, George Missick, Sarah Knight, Clayton Greene, Richard Savory QC, Conrad Griffiths QC and senior partner at Misick and Stanbrook and doyen of the TCI Bar, Ariel Misick QC OBE.
This article was first published by Weekly News