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Bar has first black woman president

The newly elected president of the Bermuda Bar Association has announced plans to expand the group's free legal advice clinics to Sandys.

Karen Williams-Smith is the first black woman to be appointed to the position and this week recognised the efforts of predecessors that “paved the way” for woman to pursue a career in the law.

“Women like Shirley Simmons and Dame Lois Browne-Evans paved the way for us,” she said.

“They showed that with a lot of hard work and determination we can achieve and fulfil a lifelong career at the Bar.”

In her first interview since taking on the role, Mrs Williams-Smith hailed the “countless hours of free legal advice” provided by members of the Bermuda Bar at The Centre in Angle Street, Hamilton every Thursday evening.

“There is a push to implement a programme at the Sandys Community Centre similar to the one that the membership supports at their sister centre at the Angle Street Centre,” Mrs Williams-Smith said. “It is felt that there is a need for such a programme in the west end community.

“It is proposed that the sessions will be held on Tuesdays so as not to conflict with the Angle Street programme.”

The new president also highlighted the Barristers and Attorneys' Corporate Pro Bono Programme that was implemented in 2015 to support Bermuda's non-profit organisations.

She added: “The introduction of the recent Charities Act, increasing governance requirements, and the current economic climate all place a tremendous strain on Bermuda's non-profit organisations.

“Non-profit members of the Centre on Philanthropy request and receive assistance with corporate legal matters through the programme.”

Mrs Williams-Smith pledged that the Bar Association would continue to pursue a legal solution that could pave the way for the introduction of conditional fee arrangements in Bermuda.

She added: “We still have some challenges ahead with implementing the last section of PACE Code C having remained outstanding since 2006 and we will continue to put pressure on the Attorney General to deal with this important section dealing with detaining persons arrested over the weekend.”

Mrs Williams-Smith, who has served on the Bar Council for 14 years, was elected as the association's new president at its Annual General Meeting at the end of last month.

She praised the outgoing president Richard Horseman for his many years of service to the association.

“In the years that Richard was on Bar Council, his proactive nature saw the formation of several sub committees of the Bar in which he personally sat on as a Committee member, or acted as chair.

“The committees that particularly come to mind are those which involve matters concerning the criminal bar, the Dame Lois Browne-Evans Criminal Pupillage Award with Carmelite Chambers, conditional fee arrangements, and the Police and Criminal Evidence Act.”

At the AGM, Christian Luthi was appointed vice-president and lawyer Elizabeth Christopher was named honorary secretary. Other bar council members include Barclay Simmons, Cindy Clarke, Mark Chudleigh, George Jones, Michael Hanson and Trevor Moniz, the Attorney-General.

Karen Williams-Smith, President of the Bermuda Bar Association (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

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Published May 11, 2017 at 9:00 am (Updated May 11, 2017 at 8:14 am)

Bar has first black woman president

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