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Bahamian barrister recognized by top Privy Council judge

Barry Griffin performed so well in law school that he was recognized during the Queen’s diamond jubilee celebrations as a top student and had the honor of mooting before the Queen
  • Noted young Bahamian barrister Barry N. Griffin, right, was recognized by the head of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council and President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, Lord Neuberger, left.

  • Barry Griffin was a standout law student at King’s College, University of London, one of the UK’s oldest and most prestigious law schools. During his time at King’s, Griffin was elected president of the Law Society and editor of the King’s Law Review. He would have been one of only a handful of ethnic minorities to ever hold either post at the university, let alone to hold both. PHOTOS: BARRY GRIFFIN


Published: Nov 09, 2016

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Noted young Bahamian barrister Barry N. Griffin was recognized by the head of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council and President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, Lord Neuberger.

Griffin who is a junior barrister, called to the Utter Bar of England and Wales was invited to attend to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom by the Office of the President. In what can only be described as a rare occurrence Lord Neuberger extended a personal invitation to Griffin to congratulate him on his success as a law student and to thank him for his contribution to the legal community in the United Kingdom (UK).

Griffin was a standout law student at King’s College, University of London, one of the UK’s oldest and most prestigious law schools. During his time at King’s, Griffin was elected president of the Law Society and editor of the King’s Law Review. He would have been one of only a handful of ethnic minorities to ever hold either post at the university, let alone to hold both concurrently.

As president of the law society, Griffin had the honor of inviting the keynote speaker to the law school’s annual black tie gala that brings together students with notable alumni and members of the legal fraternity. Barry invited Lord Neuberger, who was then Master of the Roll, the second most senior judge in England and Wales.

“As a first year law student, Lord Neuberger’s judgments captivated me and his legal reasoning piqued my intellectual curiosity. I wanted to meet the man behind the judgments,” said Griffin.

At the dinner, Griffin met Lord Neuberger and the two connected over their unlikely paths to the Bar. Lord Neuberger is Jewish and became a barrister at a time when Jews were all but shut out from work at the Bar.

Griffin is the first person in his family to study. He said it was a bit unnerving always being the only black face in classes or at legal networking events and not knowing anyone in the legal profession.

“It was refreshing speaking to Lord Neuberger and learning of the struggles in his early career. It really encouraged me to look past the things I couldn’t control and to work my hardest to perform at the highest levels.”

Griffin stayed true to that motivation and performed so well in law school that he was recognized during the Queen’s diamond jubilee celebrations as a top law student and had the honor of mooting before the Queen.

Upon completion of his legal studies, Griffin worked with Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Services where he promoted the undertaking of pro bono work by lawyers and law students to assist persons who otherwise could not afford to pay for legal representation. Attached to the employment tribunal and residential property tribunal, during his tenure, Barry assisted hundreds of employees and tenants in the UK in actions against large companies and well-funded landlords.

“I truly believe in using the law as a force for good. It was extremely rewarding to use my legal education to help others,” he said.

When Griffin received the invitation from Lord Neuberger, who is now the president of the Supreme Court and head of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, he said he was shocked and excited.

“It goes to show that you never know who is watching you and that it pays to do your very best in all that you do. Law school and the work I’ve done thus far has been extremely rewarding, but everyday wasn’t a glamorous moot before the queen. There were many hours of reading and studying. There were failures and disappointments and days when I had to push through when I didn’t feel like doing any work at all. But that fire in my belly was burning. Success was the only option, so I did what I had to do.”

Griffin said it was humbling to know that the top judge in the English speaking world had watched his journey the entire time and sought to personally congratulate him and wish him well as he moved on to another chapter in his career.

Griffin who is now based in London plans to return to The Bahamas to practice law.

 


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