Saturday, April 20, 2024

Carew a man of purpose


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I just wanted to become somebody worthwhile to society, but in terms of being a lawyer, that was not on the cards originally,” says Alphonza Carew.But at age 44, Carew is finally a qualified lawyer, aspiring to be among the best. He is one of the newest attorneys to be admitted to the Bar in Barbados, in a private calling earlier this month.The journey from St Leonard’s School to a place in Barbados’ justice system by this Bridge Gap, Black Rock resident has been long, fraught with challenges, and fuelled by one man’s determination to succeed.In an interview with the Weekend Nation, Carew recalled: “In my school days the interest was there in terms of academics but I did not totally realise the academic dream until leaving school.”In fact, anxious that her son should be equipped for gainful employment, Carew’s late mother sent him to learn refrigeration and air-conditioning when he left school. “I liked it, but it was not paying. Then I went to Supercentre Supermarket and did cash boy.”A caring family friend soon directed him to late attorney Hutson Linton, who employed him as a messenger in his law office. Diligence and interest saw him being elevated to legal clerk with responsibility for filing documents in the Registry, doing legal searches, accompanying the attorney’s clients to the Registry and other related duties.He eventually extended his base, also becoming legal clerk to attorneys Louis Tull (now Sir Louis), Michael Griffith and Randall Belgrave.He later worked as legal clerk for David Thompson, now Prime Minister, then a practising attorney.While working as a legal clerk, Carew recognised he could not go much further unless he continued studying. Encouraged by Rawle Eastmond and Ishmael Roett, he embarked on O and A level studies at the O’Level Institute.Successful in all the examinations, he next enrolled at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, where he pursued a Bachelor of Science degree in sociology and psychology. Armed with a first degree, he went on to complete an external Bachelor of Laws degree through Wolverhampton University, finishing the three-year LLB course in two years with honours.But at this point Carew faced a major obstacle in his quest to become a lawyer. He failed to gain admission to the Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad twice, though he had successfully written the entrance examination on both occasions. Today he blames his failure to get into the Hugh Wooding Law School on a quota system that even now sees law graduates from Barbados being denied entry despite having passed the requisite examination.“In fact, in 2006 only one person got in from Barbados . . . and since then no one from Barbados was able to make the Sir Hugh Wooding Law School after having done the LLB external programme,” Carew says. He decided there must be other avenues to realising his dream.“In 2006 I decided that I had to make a move and I went to the UK to do the Bar.” With offers from Bristol University to study for the Bar and from Thames Valley University to do the Solicitors Legal Practice course, he opted for the latter, taking advantage of a “more reasonable” one-year course that he knew he could better afford. He was successful.Next came the challenge to secure a training contract in a solicitor’s office. After several applications and as many negative responses, he hit the jackpot when a search for Barbadian lawyers in London landed him a training contract with the London law firm P.E. Wilson and Co. Associates. The 18-month stint also proved to be a stepping stone to admission to the roll of Solicitors of England and Wales.But Carew’s heart was still set on practising in Barbados, and soon after returning to Barbados, he was finally accepted at the Hugh Wooding Law School to pursue the Legal Education Certificate.As Carew stood before Justice Sherman Moore earlier this month to be formally admitted to the Bar of Barbados, there was a turbulence of emotions – relief over “the end of the struggles”, sadness at the absence of his mother, who passed away without seeing her son become a lawyer, and some anxiety over the reality of the responsibility to deliver. Silently he told himself “this is the day I have worked towards”, while being elated that his wife Theodora, sister Eldora and aunt Thelma were there to share the moment.Now occupying his own office in the Seventh Avenue, Belleville law offices of Allsopp and Company, Carew has begun his career as a lawyer. He aims to specialise in the law of succession, with emphasis on property law, choosing this over criminal law, which “is not a favourite” of his.Sitting behind a desk strewn with a moderate stacks of papers that tell the story of a “new man on the job”, constantly pausing to take telephone calls, Carew told the Weekend Nation: “I believe in life if there is something you want to do, pursue your goal and stay focused.”His advice to others aspiring to build a legal career: “Keep honesty and integrity high in your ethics; put the client first and treat people like people; remember that client care is utmost.”


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