Single mom is Called to the Bar
A single mom who worked two jobs to pay for her education was Called to the Bermuda Bar yesterday.
Now she has rejoined the law firm where she once worked as a secretary as a barrister.
Keeka Simons, 34, fought back tears at Supreme Court as she thanked friends and family who supported her as she battled to qualify as a lawyer.
She said: “If there’s anything I learnt from this, I have learnt that life doesn’t always go according to plan.
But she added: “I learnt that delay is not denial.”
Ms Simons wanted to study law in the US, where she lived at the time, but was forced to put her legal aspirations on hold and return to Bermuda with her 11-year-old son, Jaden.
She started work as a secretary at Hamilton legal firm Trott & Duncan in 2009 but spent her evenings working at MarketPlace’s A1 store in Smith’s to make ends meet.
Ms Simons said: “It was just the way it was and with the little I had, I did what I could.”
She later enrolled in a London-based online programme to earn her law degree.
Ms Simons told the court she worked at Trott & Duncan until 5.15pm, at A1 from 6pm to 10pm then studied as late as 4am before her day started all over again.
She said: “This was my routine for many years.”
Ms Simons added: “I’m sure there are a few people who can attest that I either cried before every exam or had a full-blown panic attack.”
But her hard work paid off and she earned a University of Law in London degree in 2016 after she passed all her exams at the first attempt.
Ms Simons was able afterwards — with the support of a $10,000 scholarship from Trott & Duncan and a bursary from MarketPlace — to continue her studies overseas.
She earned her master’s degree in law in 2017 from the College of Law, also in London, and completed her pupillage.
Ms Simons said her parents’ work ethic had helped inspire her dedication and her sisters had been a constant support.
And she told Jaden: “You are by far the most brilliant and understanding son a mother could ask for.”
Delroy Duncan, director and head of litigation at Trott & Duncan, said Ms Simons embodied Bermudian grit.
He said: “She has travelled what is nothing short of a journey and, to her credit, not all would have finished it.
“She has really done well. I’m not sure many could walk in her shoes — I doubt I could.”
Mr Duncan also praised Ms Simons for her loyalty and single-mindedness and added that he was happy to have her join his firm.
Karen Williams-Smith, director and head of family law at Trott & Duncan, said Ms Simons was determined and willing to ask for help when needed. She said: “She felt sometimes the world was against her, but I tried to encourage her along the way.
“She managed to study while working, using all the lawyers in the litigation department as her personal tutors.”
Chief Justice Narinder Hargun welcomed Ms Simons to the Bar and congratulated her on her achievement.
He said: “Certainly you have worked very hard and your story is genuinely touching.”
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