Cavelle Johnston: lead attorney

By KIMBERLEY HIBBERT Career & Education reporter

Sunday, July 27, 2014

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SHE wears many hats but humility is the main one.

She's the lead attorney in the Civil Litigation Department at Townsend, Whyte and Porter; chair of the membership committee for the Kiwanis Club of New Kingston; head of the hospitality ministry at her church; and she draws well. She is Cavelle Johnston.

Focus and hard work, coupled with academic achievement have been Johnston's focus, and she boasts a colourful career, while balancing life and family.

Johnston spent her early years as a journalist and assistant editor at License magazine in New York before she completed her Juris Doctor degree at Washington and Lee University School of Law.

She was admitted to practise at the Connecticut Bar in 2006 and the District of Columbia Bar in 2007. In 2008 she was certified to practise in Jamaica by the Norman Manley Law School and was called to the Jamaican Bar that same year.

While studying abroad, Johnston remembers being expected to speak on all things black, though she could only ultimately speak on all things Jamaican.

She said with the help of a few non-black friends who admired her spirit of determination, they helped her to understand aspects of the constitution that helped her to win the John W Davis Moot Court Appellate Advocacy Competition in 2005.

Her love for English, creative writing, speech and drama are what she credits to her mother, who was a teacher.

Johnston was born in Kingston but grew up in Manchester. She is a foodie at heart and loves to cook. This she credits to her grandmother, and she has emerged winner of the Kiwanis grill-off for the past two years.

Her passion for community service through the Kiwanis club has helped her to give of her service to children at the Sir John Golding Rehabilitation Centre where she teaches Sunday school.

"We have children ages eight to 10, some are 14 to 16 and because they are not so exposed they are a little childish in their behaviour, so you have to prepare lessons with charts and sometimes I cut out my drawings of Bible stories to really grasp their attention," Johnston said.

She added that it is during these sessions that the real challenges of the children become known and she realises that they struggle with issues relating to their self-esteem.

"When they talk you realise that they are having problems; they feel teased, they feel awkward, because they spend time at the regular school then go back to therapy and if you ask them what they would do if someone hits them and they will tell you, 'I will thump them in their mouth', and you have to say, 'No, what would Jesus do and how did Jesus handle persecution?'"

Johnston maintained that at times she has to bring in the law and explain to them the repercussions for 'lashing out' and harming someone if they are provoked, especially when it's a situation that can't be proven.

She added that the club is in its recruiting stage for young people.

"We have the Young People Priority One project and we don't want to just recruit you because we think you'd make a fun Kiwanian; we want to recruit you because you are committed to the project and do service projects," she said.

Johnston, who attends Emmanuel Apostolic Church, said she decided to start the hospitality ministry to make visitors feel at home.

"It's a big church and I realised that people would come and visit and nobody would notice. At first I never had many volunteers but now there is a group of persons I can rotate on the committee," she said.

Johnston describes her workplace as a strong networking family. She has been a partner for just over a year and practises civil litigation, personal injury law, administrative law and corporate counselling.

"You're given the tools you need and with help from the senior partner Christopher Townsend we can always voice our opinions on how to make the practice better and we're poised for growth."

To date, Johnston's greatest challenge is the death of her father, which she said propelled her to work harder.

"I'm happy that I kept my focus and made both my parents proud. Ultimately I know my mother is happy that all her children stayed with God and did not forget to put Him first," she said.

For Johnston, her greatest fear is becoming too proud.

"I'd dare not get ahead of myself. I was always afraid of getting too caught up in work that I'd forget to give back and notice the ordinary conditions and what is going on around me," she said.

Her next quest is being more devoted to art, although she admits cooking and exploring different natural spices such as turmeric or writing the script for a dramatic presentation or play at church are all her hobbies.

JOHNSTON... I'd dare not get ahead of myself

Cavelle Johnston (centre) and her team from the Civil Litigation Department at Townsend, Whyte and Porter, Terri-Ann Guyah (left) and Kaysian Kennedy.






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