Law students celebrate landmark graduation

The Cayman Islands Law School held its graduation ceremony on 11 July at the Marriott. The occasion marked the CILS’s twentieth graduation and only the second time graduates have been awarded their degrees on-Island.

Christopher Levers

Top undergraduate student Christopher Levers is congratulated by fellow degree recipient, Chief Justice Anthony Smellie. Photo: Basia Pioro

In previous years, graduates were awarded their degrees in absentia at the University of Liverpool, the prestigious British university which grants CILS graduates their law degrees, which they then received in person at a later ceremony in Grand Cayman.

The on-Island degree ceremony was made possible because Liverpool University Vice-Chancellor Drummond Boone, Pro Vice-Chancellor Chris Gaskell, and Head of Student Administration Gary Walker were in attendance as official representatives of the University.

Their presence was in part to honour Cayman Islands Chief Justice Anthony Smellie, who was conferred an honorary Doctor of Laws degree, the first such degree awarded in the Cayman Islands by the University.

‘CILS is particularly proud of this honour, which in part acknowledges the Hon. Chief Justice’s close connections to CILS not least in his capacity as chairman of the Legal Advisory Council, to which CILS Reports,’ said Director of Legal Studies Mitchell Davies.

Chief Justice Smellie’s keynote address encouraged the new graduates to use emerging opportunities for transparency to build bridges for the law profession.

‘You have a unique opportunity to engage the hearts and minds of the public,’ he told them.

He also advised them that to do the good work he expected of them, they must remember to use their moral compass to recognize that justice must be tempered with mercy.

With 24 L.L.B. graduates and four post-graduates, it was CILS’s largest graduating class in a number of years, distinguished by the best ever results recorded by CILS graduates, including four overall First Class Honours awards and 11 second-class honours awards.

The ceremonies also celebrated the top performing undergraduate students Christopher Levers, the school’s top overall graduate, who won two awards, Sharon Nelson, best overall part-time student, and Devika Parchment and Jeremy Durston, who were the best first and second year students.

Sarah McField was recognized as top third year student, and the O.L. Panton Memorial Prize for the top post-graduate student was awarded to Bruce Blake.

Mr. Levers, undergraduate class valedictorian, delivered an engaging speech describing the enduring camaraderie the class had built over the past three years, in part as a result of the support structure they developed during and after Hurricane Ivan.

Mr. Blake, professional practice valedictorian, struck a chord with both graduates and attendees when encouraging the new graduates to commit to learning to live and work productively.

‘Life is a value transaction; always be an asset, rather than a liability,’ was his message. By remembering this, he remarked, graduates would do their part to improving Caymanian society, by setting a high standard to be emulated by others.

The evening concluded with a lively cocktail reception.

CILS first opened in 1982, and the first graduates were awarded their L.L.B. degrees in 1987.