New barrister Ojeda Smith says her success was a family affair
A newly-minted lawyer said family and a strong support system helped her along the path to success.
Ojeda Smith, an associate in law firm Wakefield Quin’s corporate department, added their example meant she was committed to helping other people in their careers.
Ms Smith, who wants to work in corporate law, said: “In all my elation and spirit of gratitude I have not lost sight of what I am embarking on, a noble and honourable profession with uncompromising virtues of hard work, sacrifice, integrity, commitment and most importantly discipline.
“I am the embodiment of hard work paying off.
I trust that the example that has been set remains with me so that I can help others in the spirit of giving back.”
Ms Smith, 24 from Smiths Parish, was speaking as she was called to the Bar last Friday.
She started a pupillage with Wakefield Quin in November last year under Eric Gotfredsen, the director and chief executive, and completed it one year later to the day.
Mr Gotfredsen said: “Ojeda has been an excellent addition to our team. She has a sharp intellect and a wonderful way of connecting with both clients and colleagues across our law firm and financial services companies.”
But Ms Smith said her road to success was not always smooth.
She added: “I have had to accept and navigate through the many ups, downs and setbacks, learn from failures and losses.
“My educational learning began at Bermuda High School. My parents knew that I wasn’t a star student at BHS … in short I was someone who struggled in school.
“The point is, I am the last person that many people would have expected to stand up here today, so it truly is an honour.”
Ms Smith admitted: “My academic journey has been long and it has been tough.”
But she added: “I proved you can do everything you put your mind to.”
Wayne Caines, a PLP MP and former minister as well as barrister, helped to mentor Ms Smith and said she was one of the island’s finest talents.
Ms Smith added: “Throughout my entire journey, Wayne has been one of the most impactful people in my life.
“His pep talks were always right on time and it always made it seem as if it was his pleasure to inspire.”
Cristen Suess, an associate at Wakefield Quin, said she warmed to Ms Smith when she joined the firm and became her “work mom”.
Ms Suess said: “I knew from the moment I met Ojeda that this day would come quickly.”
She told Ms Smith: “It goes without saying that you have made every person in this room extremely proud.
“Your positive attitude, intelligence and resilience are inspiring.”
Ms Smith’s family and colleagues from Wakefield Quin were in court as she was admitted to the Bar.
She highlighted her grandfather Vernon Daniels, who died earlier this year.
An emotional Ms Smith said: “On September 24, my grandfather passed away.
“This was by far the hardest time of my life and I am still at a loss for words.
“It breaks my heart that he is not here to share this experience with us.
“Papa made all of this possible – whatever we needed, he provided endlessly and selflessly.”