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Tyrone’s joy after being Called to the Bar

Persistence pays off: Tyrone Quinn, right, and his uncle Rick Woolridge(Photograph by Lisa Simpson)

Tyrone Quinn was Called to the Bar yesterday, following in the footsteps of his uncle Rick Woolridge.

The 31-year-old, of Devonshire, never intended to become a lawyer — having dropped out of high school and finding himself unemployed at a young age.

But he decided to go back to school and persevered when faced with challenges with the support of family and friends, who surrounded him as he was formally admitted to the Bermuda Bar.

“I’m ecstatic — I didn’t see the day coming,” he told The Royal Gazette. “I am for ever grateful that I put God first, that I had good support and that I was able to pull through.”

He added that he “absolutely” hopes to continue working with his uncle to expand the family business.

Mr Woolridge, who presented his first nephew to the court, said: “He is a young man who has travelled many roads, climbed many hills and walked through a few fires.

“Not the easiest pupil — it’s that Woolridge mentality — but a joy nonetheless. He has a passion for the law, a passion for people, a passion for justice.”

He added that it is “good to see” that Mr Quinn also studied at the University of Buckingham, his alma mater.

After graduating from the University of Buckingham, Mr Quinn completed the LLM Legal Practice Course at Birmingham City University and his pupillage with Phoenix Law Chambers.

“My law school experience was interesting,” he said during the ceremony. “I had money, then became broke, then I had a little more money again.

“Like any other student, it’s how well you adjust when things are going badly. I could have quit and I refused to quit — quitting is not in my blood and I am grateful to God for that.”

Mr Quinn also said he never intended to be a lawyer, he started out studying finance and law. Although he was more interested in finance, he studied law to understand how the “framework of the world operates”.

“I stuck with it and have become pretty good, not that I’m tooting my own horn. I’ve only lost one case, which is being appealed by the way.”

Mr Quinn grew up in a single-parent household. “I was also a pretty talented kid but caught up,” he said, adding that he dropped out of high school.

At age 18 and unemployed, he realised that “bad behaviour” wasn’t getting him anywhere. He found a job at Ocean View Golf Course and within months had decided to go back to school.

“I couldn’t type a lick. But at the time Bermuda College had those portable laptops and I used to be outside Loyal Hill with my laptop learning how to type and I’d visit my friends’ homes learning how to type.”

“Success started to hit me as hard work came through and I started to reap the fruits of my labour.”

Mr Quinn thanked his family, friends and colleagues past and present, saying “I didn’t do this alone — I had support throughout my life from various people”.

He added: “I’ve been working with my uncle Rick, I want to thank him as well. He’s very hands-off, and I’m not complaining about that. At first I couldn’t understand it. But you learn a lot quicker when you’re in the deep sea, you sink or swim. He’s encouraged me to think on my feet, to think for myself, to come to him only when necessary, in other words, figure it out.”

In welcoming Mr Quinn, Chief Justice Ian Kawaley said: “I’m very pleased to see the Woolridge family’s grip on the law is expanding. Your uncle has blazed an impressive trail that I am sure you will follow.”

Noting the difficulties barristers can face when starting to practice in Bermuda, he added: “To the extent that you are teaming up with your uncle, I think you will bring a valuable new skill set as well as the advocacy side, which it seems quite obvious to me that you quite enjoy and have a natural aptitude for.

“I am sure you will make a very valuable contribution to Bermuda’s legal profession as well as Bermuda as a whole.”

And Peter Sanderson, who described Mr Quinn’s story as “heartening”, also welcomed Mr Quinn to the Bermuda Bar on behalf of the Bar Council.