From Left to Right: New attorneys Shivani Maraj, Shalisha Samuel, Jenna Mapp and Sade McQueen-Bernard celebrate in their robes with attorney Keith Scotland (centre) after they were called to the bar during a virtual hearing, last week.

While the traditional ceremony to admit new attorneys to practice is usually held at the Convocation Hall in the Hall of Justice in Port-of-Spain, new arrangements had to be put in place due to limited access to courthouses during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The new attorneys, who participated in the virtual admission hearings last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were split into three groups.

Much like the traditional ceremony, two High Court Judges were assigned to each hearing and used speeches to provide wisdom and guidance to the new attorneys.

But unlike the traditional ceremony, each petitioner was required to say the oath individually as opposed to collectively.

The attorneys were then given appointments to visit the Hall of Justice, this week, to sign the Oath Book and collect their Certificates of Enrolment.

“All sanitisation and other protocols including the wearing of masks and the required social distancing were in place at the latter event,” the Judiciary said, in a response to questions posed by this newspaper.

Contacted earlier this week, Port-of-Spain South MP Keith Scotland, who presented the petitions of four new attorneys said he was pleased with the process.

Scotland said despite the limitations due to the pandemic, his team still managed to celebrate the occasion with their family members, friends and new colleagues.

“I find that the use of technology in these trying times has been rewarding,” Scotland said, as he praised the increased use of similar virtual hearings for most cases including some trials since the start of the pandemic.

In a brief interview yesterday, Sade McQueen-Bernard, who was one of the attorneys presented by Scotland, said that she and her friends were relieved to complete the process, which had been put on hold since April.

“To be honest we have been looking forward to this for so long that when we heard it would be virtual we said we would take it,” McQueen-Bernard said.

She explained that she was happy with the two-fold process as she was able to invite different relatives for each to share the experience with her.

McQueen-Bernard also said that she and her friends were able to take traditional photographs in their robes on the steps of the Hall of Justice, with the Judiciary even providing a professional photographer.

“They (the Judiciary) did the best they could in the circumstances,” she said.