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Grandmother’s wish comes true as Nicole Yearwood is Called to the Bar

New lawyer Nicole Yearwood (Photograph supplied)

A grandmother who hoped her granddaughter would become a lawyer got her wish at a ceremony in the Supreme Court as Nicole Yearwood joined the Bermuda Bar.

Ms Yearwood was embarking on a career at a major Bermuda reinsurance firm when her experiences with the legal department at Athene Life Re convinced her to go to graduate school and qualify as a lawyer instead.

Her Call to the Bar on Friday before Puisne Judge Larry Mussenden opened with remarks from Ms Yearwood’s pupil master at Conyers Dill & Pearman, Jennifer Panchaud, a director in the firm’s corporate department.

She told the court Ms Yearwood obtained her first legal qualification at the University of Leeds in 2020 and completed her Legal Practice Course there in 2021 with distinction.

Before her legal studies, she had obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree at Emory University in Atlanta.

Ms Panchaud noted that Ms Yearwood’s high school education at Warwick Academy continued at the Baylor School in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which “provided her the opportunity at a young age to broaden her horizons”.

Ms Yearwood “encountered students from all walks of life” in her university studies, the court heard.

Ms Yearwood was inspired to return to education and pursue law after working with the legal department at Athene Life Re — “a path unknown and, quite frankly, expensive”, Ms Panchaud said.

Helped by bursaries from Appleby as well as Conyers, Ms Yearwood “essentially put herself through law school as a slightly mature student”.

Her one-year pupillage at Conyers took her through the corporate, trust and litigation departments.

Ms Panchaud praised her as “even keeled — she listens more than she talks, and she is very quietly determined to do well in this profession”.

Ms Yearwood thanked her along with pupil masters Craig MacIntyre, Rhys Williams and Elizabeth Denman — as well as her former colleagues at Athene for supporting her move to law.

“I will never forget the day I told my parents I wanted to quit my job and go to law school,” she told Mr Justice Mussenden.

She recalled asking for financial help and being told by her father, Roudette, that as a working woman she should pay her own way.

“A few weeks later, he unexpectedly passed away from sickle cell anaemia, and everything I had ever known, all my hopes and dreams, were taken away in an instant,” Ms Yearwood said.

“It wasn’t until just over a year ago, when talking to my grandparents about securing my pupillage at Conyers, I found out I had it all wrong.

“My father told them of my law school plans all those years ago, and said that it was about time. As they retold the story, I could see my father’s joy and pride through my grandfather’s eyes and my grandmother’s smile.”

She thanked grandparents Rudy and Wilma Yearwood, and her mother and sister, Vivian and Ashley Yearwood, for their support.

Ms Yearwood said her grandmother had told her and her sister as children that she wanted to see them become a lawyer and a judge.

“It may have taken a little longer than expected, but she got half her wish.”

Ms Yearwood told the court she planned to remain in corporate work.

But Mr Justice Mussenden said that her grandmother’s wish might still come true.

“I know the memory of your father is near and dear to your heart,” he added. “You have done the first part — but I can say that in 15 years’ time you will be a judge.”

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Published November 09, 2022 at 7:44 am (Updated November 09, 2022 at 7:44 am)

Grandmother’s wish comes true as Nicole Yearwood is Called to the Bar

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