Kenneth Robinson (1950-2023): ‘a trailblazer in the legal community’
A prominent lawyer who served on various public boards and tribunals and advised the Government on business became the first Black partner at one of the island’s main law firms.
Kenneth Robinson began his career working for Sir Edward Richards, a lawyer who went on to become the first Black Bermudian to lead the Government.
Mr Robinson attended Yale University in the United States, followed by Oxford University as a 1972 Rhodes Scholar.
A specialist in corporate and commercial law, he joined Appleby, Spurling & Kempe — now Appleby — in the 1970s, retiring as senior corporate partner in 2005.
Mr Robinson remained senior counsel and later a consultant to the firm.
Mr Robinson advised what was then known as the Business Development Unit of the Government from 2011 to 2012, which involved him in a string of legislative reforms to the commercial sector.
Other roles included on the Land Valuation Appeals Tribunal, the Bermuda Housing Corporation and the Tax Appeals Tribunal.
In 2015, he was appointed a commissioner on the Regulatory Authority of Bermuda.
His father, also Kenneth Robinson, was Bermuda’s first chief education officer.
Tim Faries, an Appleby partner, called him “a trailblazer in the legal community” and “instrumental in the early days of the development of Bermuda’s international insurance industry”.
He said: “Always approachable, and with a keen intellect, his analytical legal mind was sought out by all lawyers in our firm on all manner of legal problems.
“He loved nothing more than to dive deeply into the most complex legal issues we faced, and was patient and understanding in explaining things to those not quite at his level.
“The product of Ken’s fine legal mind continues to echo today in our precedents and intellectual capital. His legacy is strong.”
Mr Faries added: “Outside of work, Ken had a zest of living life to its fullest, and was most at home under the sea doing his beloved scuba diving.
“He was devoted to his family — wife JoCarol and three children — and an example to us all of making a fulsome contribution in all aspects of life — to family, to community and to profession.
“Ken’s life has had, and will continue to have, a lasting impact on Appleby and also the wider community.”
Tammy Richardson-Augustus, another Appleby partner, described him as “the embodiment of beautiful contradictions”.
She said: “In his practice of law, he was scholarly and yet had such commercial sensibility.
“He was revered by all his contemporaries and yet his accessibility and unassuming nature belied his sharp intellect and technical proficiency.
“He would sprinkle erudite lessons in law with stories of his life as a young boy in Spanish Point.”
She added: “He was a master of his craft and yet at his core he was simply a great human being who possessed the essential traits of an educator — skilled in communication, listening, empathy, patience and collaboration and a desire for continued improvement.
“He poured himself into everything he did, whether it was drafting legal precedents, scuba diving or improving his fluency in Spanish.
“We would marvel over his tenacity. My time at Appleby has been richer because of his contagious love of the law and penchant for discovering innovative solutions to complex problems.
“May it be of some comfort to his beloved wife, Jo, daughters Kalilah and Jennah and his son, the late Kenny, to know just how much he meant to his colleagues. He has an unassailable place in my heart as a sponsor and a friend and my time working with him will long remain one of the highlights of my career.”
• Kenneth Edward Taylor Robinson, a prominent corporate lawyer and partner at Appleby, was born on March 21, 1950. He died in February 2023, aged 72
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