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How adversity shaped newest member of Bar

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Call to the Bar: Alexis Haynes (Photograph by Lisa Simpson)

The newest member of the Bermuda Bar vowed to be the “very best” as she celebrated the milestone achievement yesterday with friends, family and colleagues.

Alexis Haynes dedicated her Call to the Bar to her late father, the Right Reverend Christopher Haynes, and shared her story of perseverance and triumph in the face adversity.

“I did not anticipate that this moment would be like this,” the 30-year-old told The Royal Gazette after the ceremony. “We plan life according to our will but things manifest according to God’s will.

“So while it was the most disheartening and the most discouraging thing to lose my father, who was the one who advocated and championed me towards this goal, I know that everything happens for a purpose. I don’t believe I would be the woman I am today without having to face those trials.”

After being welcomed to the Bar by Chief Justice Ian Kawaley, Ms Haynes spoke about the “catastrophic events of epic proportions” that derailed her perfectly laid-out plans.

She began her story in the summer of 2012, when her sister fell ill the same day her parents left the island for her father to receive medical treatment and the same day her mother suffered a seizure that left her with no recollection of “what day it was, who she was, and most saddening, who her children were”.

Ms Haynes recounted how she and her sisters rallied together to care for their parents while she juggled her university obligations. She spoke of how her attention “was split between studying and skyping home to ensure my parents were OK” when she started her bachelor of law degree at Queen Mary University in London, and how she had to persevere to finish her first-year exams despite her father’s deteriorating health.

And while her mother had slowly recovered following brain surgery and extensive rehabilitation, her father died shortly after her exams.

After arranging the funeral and despite struggling with her grief in a foreign country, Ms Haynes continued to give her studies her all.

“I pushed just as hard as I would if he was there on the sidelines cheering me on,” Ms Haynes, who also has a bachelor of commerce from McGill University, said.

“He had given me everything I needed to overcome and conquer any challenge.”

As her strength returned and she “finished strong”, the “pain started to transform into power”. She put her mind to completing her postgraduate diploma in legal practice and masters in international legal practice with distinction, determined to fight with the same strength that her father — her “coach” — fought for life.

“An indescribable ambition arose in me along with an aggressive pursuit towards goal attainment,” she said. “I decided that I would stop at nothing, to be the very best at anything I attempted.

“I stand here and vow to you today, that in any capacity that I serve the community of Bermuda and in every position that I represent our legal profession, I will give it my all. I will execute with the utmost excellence and I will be the very best.”

Ms Haynes thanked all those who helped her on her journey and gave special recognition to her mother Roxanne Haynes, and her sisters Celena, Charis and Chrystal Haynes.

She concluded by thanking God for her father, adding: “Today is an achievement he reared me to accomplish; it is what he most wanted for me and so I dedicate this accomplishment and this moment to him.”

In closing, Mr Justice Kawaley remarked that “it is true that adversity is the best teacher”.

“Everything that I’ve heard today suggests to me that you will be capable of rising to whatever challenges you meet,” the Chief Justice said.

Ms Haynes, who is in her second seat at Appleby in the dispute resolution department, was introduced by Appleby’s John Wasty, who described her as a “perceptive, industrious and committed individual”.

“I have absolutely no doubt that she will be a credit to the profession,” the local group head of dispute resolution and global head of insurance disputes added.

Bermuda Bar Association president Karen Williams-Smith also welcomed Ms Haynes and wished her well, noting it was “no small feat” to obtain her LPC and masters simultaneously with distinction.

And Janita Burke, former partner at Appleby and director of Estera Services, supported the application for her cousin, whom she described as “shrewd, articulate and a resourceful negotiator.”

“Today is a great day for the Bermuda Bar,” she said, “as it will add to its number an intelligent, hard-working, pragmatic, resilient, focused, driven, energetic young lady with a strong faith and trust in the Lord who is truly walking in her calling.”

Call to the Bar: Alexis Haynes celebrates her achievement with her mother Roxanne
Alexis Haynes and her mother Roxanne (Photograph by Lisa Simpson)