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Passionate about politics: Q&A with Barry Griffin (LLB, 2012)

Law alumni in action
Alexis Beaumont

Alumni & Stakeholder Engagement Manager for The Dickson Poon School of Law

04 May 2022

Barry Griffin graduated from The Dickson Poon School of Law in 2012 and pursued a career in commercial law, working at some of the top firms in The Bahamas. Having always had a passion for politics, he now juggles his time between his career in business and a senior role in The Government of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas. As part of our Alumni in Action series, Barry spoke to us about the value of a King's law degree across multiple disciplines.

Barry Griffin Senate (1)

Why did you decide to study Law, why in London, and why at King’s?

"I completed my first degree in the US in International Relations and Economics and in my senior year it was a toss-up between continuing on to business school or law school. I have a passion for business, politics and law, so I applied for MBA programmes in the US and for law programmes in the UK - being from The Bahamas, our system is based on the British legal system. Through talking to people from King’s, taking a look at the type of research coming out of the university, and also seeing the stories of alumni and their career progression, I felt an attachment to King’s. Alumni like Desmond Tutu, who I admired and respected a lot, and prestigious Bahamian King’s alumni such as our former Prime Minister, Sir Lynden Pindling, and Sir Orville Turnquest, who was a former Governor general of The Bahamas, really inspired me. And King's has one of the top law schools!

"Why London? I’m from The Bahamas, it’s an island nation with under 400,000 people, and so for me I desperately wanted a big city environment. I’d visited London when I was a kid and I loved that King’s was smack bang in the heart of London so this was also something that attracted me to the university."

It was important to me to attend a highly ranked and distinguished university with a great track record, so that my degree could transfer anywhere. Attending King’s meant that not only would I get to study at a world-class university, but I’d get to do it in the middle of one of the best cities in the world.– Barry Griffin (LLB, 2012)

Where has your career as a lawyer taken you?

"After graduation, I took some time off to work in The Bahamas. I returned to London to complete The Bar exam in 2016 and then pursued a career in commercial law at some of the top firms in The Bahamas. Now, I juggle my time between being a Partner at Sovereign Advisors Bahamas and my role in the Senate as Vice President representing The Government of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

"At Sovereign Advisors Bahamas, we want to be at the forefront of the digital assets space including cryptocurrencies, digital tokens, digital exchanges, NFTs and the growing 'metaverse'. My experience in financial services and corporate law really lends to this type of work and so I am leading the firm’s charge in this area as a new age version of what is already happening in the financial services space at a global scale. The Bahamas is one of only a handful of countries to legislate this area so it’s exciting to be involved in such a niche and non-traditional space."

In September 2022, Barry spoke at an Alumni event on Law, Financial Services & Digital Assets


What attracts you about the world of politics and how is this linked to your career in law?

"I’ve always been a political person. I didn’t know that I would be in the front line of politics, but I always knew I wanted to contribute to politics and, in particular, to the national development of The Bahamas. While I was a law student in London, I became more involved with assisting my political party behind the scenes in terms of helping Ministers of the Government do policy research, or write speeches, for example. When I came home to The Bahamas in 2016, I helped out on the internal campaign of the party and the question was asked to me ‘why don’t you help out on the youth branch?’. So I ran for that position, got it, and then later on became the Vice Chairman of the party helping to reform the party internally and prepare for upcoming elections – all while in my first few years as a lawyer.

Barry Griffin
Politics and law seem to touch everything. Everything you look at - whether it’s the clothes you touch, the food you’re eating, in terms of the way your country is run or the way the economy works - politics and law touch everything. Politicians make the decisions, put it in the law and then the lawyers interpret it and execute it. Many of our politicians are lawyers and now being in the political space myself, I see why it’s easier for a lawyer to adapt to being in the legislative field.– Barry Griffin (LLB, 2012)

"A lot of my skills as a lawyer and as a barrister are definitely needed in politics in terms of working with legislation and making recommendations to the Government on legislation. I am the youngest parliamentarian and the youngest person who has ever been Vice President of The Senate and when you’re the youngest person in the room, you’ve got to be that person who says, ‘We need to do this, we need to take this risk’. When you have the opportunity to bring things to the table which others haven’t really thought about, that’s when I’m happy to be in the position to represent this current generation, the next generation, and bring forward ideas for the future development of the country.

How have you found the transition between law and politics?

"I was appointed to The Senate in October 2021 and in the first few months, things were busier and more hectic than they have ever been. I love the job but I’m not a cabinet minister who does this full time. I still have a working professional life in the private sector and so the need for time management was a huge factor for me in making the roles work. When I first started, everything was coming at me in terms of government, in terms of work, other personal commitments, and so that was the tough part about transitioning – everything else came naturally. Work life balance and trying to find the time for everything is hard but finding that balance and having the time to see friends and enjoy life is important to me.

"I’ve always loved being involved in a lot of different things. I don’t think I’ll ever strictly focus on just one thing. I love law and national development is very important to me, that’s one of the reasons I returned to The Bahamas instead of staying abroad. Even though I’m not sure I’ll be in frontline politics forever, civic contribution and serving the Government in other capacities is something I want to continue with."

For those who are already set on studying law at King’s, I would advise to get involved in the societies and clubs available and become a part of it from day one. This will help you get a jump start on your degree, your networking, and making friends in the university so you have people you can explore London with and explore King’s with. I involved myself a lot in the societies and clubs at King’s and all of the experiences I gained through each of the groups, has helped contribute to my professional life now.– Barry Griffin (LLB, 2012)

As a student at King's, which Societies and Clubs were you involved with?

"I’ve always been the kind of person to network with people. My first year at King’s was a discovery period so I wanted to immerse myself completely in the experience, the study and in the profession, so I could decide whether it was the right career choice for me.

"Being a member of the King’s Law Review - and eventually carrying out the role as President of The Law Review - really helped me practice my skills in writing, reading, research, peer reviewing, checking sources and editing other people’s work. These were all things that assisted me as a law student as well as continue to support me in my life now as an attorney and as a Senator in the Government. In my role in The Senate, I need to be able to read legislation quickly, be able to benchmark it to legislation from around the world and clean up any awkward drafting. A lot of the skills I have now, I gained from being involved with the King’s Law Review as a student.

"The other Society I was involved with was King's Bar Society. In The Bahamas, everyone gets called to The Bar, so you do the work of a barrister and a solicitor (it’s not a divided profession like it is in the UK). The Bar Society for me was about discovering if the oral advocacy side of the profession was something I’d actually enjoy doing. I got heavily involved and became President of The Bar Society which meant I was selected to moot before the Queen as part of her Diamond Jubilee in 2012. The Society allowed me to craft my advocacy skills and my speaking skills which assists me now as an attorney and as a Senator. Whether I’m preparing for media interviews, political party speeches, or any kind of public speaking, all of the skills I learned being involved with The Bar Society e.g. knowing how to quickly deduce a matter, come up with talking points, strategic questioning skills etc, assists me greatly now.

"I was also involved in King's Law Society which was something targeted more at students who were interested in being solicitors. Even before coming to London, I was a huge fan of the big solicitor firms in the city. For me, having opportunities such as the chance to tour Clifford Chances offices and speak to associates and attorneys there, or doing Christmas schemes and summer vacation schemes through the Society, really confirmed to me that corporate and commercial law was the area I wanted to practice.

It’s one thing to know how to write a speech, or read a speech, but advocacy is a whole other ball game where you need to speak on your feet, and the skills and techniques I learned in King's Bar Society really help with mastering that art.– Barry Griffin (LLB, 2012)

What advice would you give to those unable to decide on law at King’s?

For those who are still not sure about King’s, my advice would be to visit the campus. If you have the opportunity or the ability to visit the campus and talk to current students, you’ll be able to understand the internal offerings of the university and what’s available on your doorstep, and I am confident you’ll fall in love with King’s. There are also multiple campuses to visit and as a student, you can use facilities across all the campuses which are spread throughout London. This can really work well for someone like me who is looking for that bit city feel and who may like to utilise the many options available at King’s whether it’s more convenient to you as a student given where you are living, or where your friends are living in the city.

Law alumni in action

What came next for our law school graduates? In these Q&A interviews, we hear from alumni from The Dickson Poon School of Law.

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