Cocktails With — Olubanke Adenike Carol Aina, BA MA FCIArb

Principal, Norman Manley Law School

Sunday, August 18, 2019

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Home is… Long Mountain, Kingston, Jamaica.

You woke up on August 6, Independence Day, to the official announcement that you were being conferred with the Order of Distinction in the rank of Commander. Take us back to that telephone call.

It was a text from the senior tutor of the Norman Manley Law School congratulating me. I texted back using the popular phrase “OMG” and told her I was very humbled and thanked her for being a great deputy and that I achieved this on the shoulders of the team and students at the Norman Manley Law School.

You are quoted as saying, “When I returned to Jamaica after living for 20 years in the country of my birth, I knew I wanted to give back to this country that held my fondest memories…” What were those earliest memories and how have they moulded you?

I grew up in a school yard in Manchionel, Portland. I came from England at a young age to live with my aunt and uncle. They were both educators and so I grew up in the principal's cottage. Manchioneal is by the sea and it was as exquisite a childhood as you could imagine. I grew up with cousins and lots of land to roam about. I had a lot of bathing suits that my mother sent from England.

I left Manchioneal Primary School after passing Common Entrance examinations at age 10 to attend Happy Grove High School and then to complete my secondary education at Excelsior High School. I loved Excelsior and my closest friends are still my friends from high school. Jamaica was in my DNA at the point that I returned to England after high school in 1977.

The law and indeed the role of a lawyer have changed, some might argue, drastically; others will argue dramatically. As the principal of the Norman Manley Law School, how would you describe it and how have you positioned your team for this change?

The Norman Manley Law School team assesses the drivers of change, is constantly aware of the need to innovate, but also seeks to focus on fundamentals rather than fads and fashions. We have core principles, a strategic plan, a mission and vision that guide what we do. We are also acutely aware of some matters which the school itself does not have the power to change and so we focus on what we can change.

Legal Education Certificate aside, what would you like each student to leave Norman Manley Law School with?

With a view that their purpose is greater than simply securing employment as an attorney-at-law. They must be committed to service, to promoting the rule of law and to understanding that lawyers in developing societies have a greater role to play by participating in change and regulating change.

What's your law secret?

My law secret would have to be my passion for education and law.

To which case do you refer even today?

Donoghue v Stevenson, mostly because I teach civil litigation. It is about the duty of care that we owe to each other under the law of negligence. It resonates with students and I use it to teach ancillary proceedings and to refer students to the duty of care we owe each other. It also helps in drawing out aspects of professional behaviour. The question asked in that seminal case is a biblical one — Who is my neighbour?

What makes someone a lawyer?

Someone who brings trust to those they advise, who understands the delicate balance required in representing the client, upholding the rule of law and maintaining the administration of justice and who desires to serve.

What gets you up each day?

Well, first of all, I meditate; I am very spiritual. After that, I get up knowing that I aim to impact somebody's life positively. Sometimes, it is a student, a staff member or just someone who happens to cross my path.

Where's your favourite (Kingston) chill spot?

I have to say it is sitting on my deck at home overlooking Kingston.

Where do you go to let your hair down?

I travel or go outside of Kingston. I like Jamaican vacations a lot.

Who is your heroine?

I have a few, but one is my aunt Mae, Olive Phillips. She was the principal of Manchioneal All-Age School in Portland. She was always a very small-built person and was known to be 'little but tallawah'. She believed in education for development of the individual, and inspired many people.

Last book(s) read?

I loved Toni Morrison and so I am re-reading her books which I have read over the years. I am also reading The Code of the Extraordinary Mind by Vishen Lakian which was recommended by my son.

Heels or flats?

Heels.

Bus, taxi or tube?

The tube. It moves fast; I like moving quickly!

A day at the beach or a hike to the Blue Mountains?

I enjoy both, but if I had to choose, I would hike.

Were you to dissect a case with five attorneys, local or international, living or dead, which case would it be and which attorneys would you be in chambers with?

Right now, I am very interested in a recent case dealing with legal education in the region from Trinidad & Tobago, Hadeed v The AG of Trinidad & Tobago and others. I am particularly interested in this view of the courts offering “peace jurisprudential approaches”.. I would have on my team and in my chambers Baroness Patrcia Scotland, QC, whom I instructed on several matters in the UK; the president of the Court of Appeal of Jamaica, Justice C Dennis Morrison, and we worked together in the litigation team at DunnCox. For the remaining three, there are far too many to choose from, which would include colleagues over the years and students I have taught. I have taught some very bright students.

What are you up to at the moment for work?

Top of the list is trying desperately hard to bring about a complete digital transformation at the law school. We are still too manual. However, working with IT personnel requires special skills.

Finally, what's your personal credo?

Reality is an illusion albeit a persistent one. — Albert Einstein.


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