Michelle Thomas - You can call her Counsel


Racquel Simpson, Youthlink Writer

Thomas - Photo by Diana Arias-Lazcano

It wasn't a charade for Michelle Thomas when time approached for her to choose her career path. A spark had come to her, at a tender age, in a courtroom, leaving her vigorously enthused and steadfast. At the age of twenty-four, she has reached a milestone along the journey to her ultimate career goal, having been called to the Bar on December 8, 2015.

Youthlink (YL): Who is Michelle Thomas?
Michelle Thomas (MT): I'm a 24-year-old 'dramatist' who loves to make people laugh. I grew up in Colville Gardens, St Andrew, and attended St Andrew High School for Girls. I'm highly involved in character building and community activities. I play hockey as a member of St Andrew Hockey Club. Most recently, I'm a graduate of The Norman Manley Law School and currently the JCDC's Festival Queen for Kingston and St Andrew.

YL: When did you know you wanted to study law and why?
MT: I knew this at age 10 when I accompanied my mom to court regarding a personal matter. I was captivated by how the lawyers stood and advocated for their clients. The level of confidence, the use of jargons, the whole happening was an inspiration. I interpreted being a lawyer as being a superhuman at that moment. I remember telling my mom that I wanted to become a lawyer at that point and she encouraged me to work hard.

YL: What was the journey to and through law school like?
MT: I became very strategic in my planning. I knew I had to excel academically. I began to pay keen attention to my studies during the primary level, and that got me to St Andrew High School for Girls. It came to me that in order to be an advocate of any sort, one must have a good grasp of the English grammar, and so I worked hard at attaining good grades in English language and literature in high school. In addition to working hard, I worked smart. I knew what I wanted to become and I knew the requirements for getting there. That requirement was primarily excellent grades and not subject-specific. Instead of choosing all the heavy reading courses in sixth form, I did business courses as I'm a business-oriented person. It was a means of giving my mind enough time to be relaxed to then take on the heavy reading when I got to university. My results earned me a reward to study at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados. I was heavily involved on campus and I graduated with second-class honors. I matriculated to the Norman Manley Law School and served as the vice-president for the students' association. I made two international representations for the school, also. The point was not to be an ordinary student but to leave my mark at these two institutions. All in all, I ended my studies on a superb note and I'm now employed at Usim Williams & Company law firm.

YL: What's your next step towards fulfilling your ultimate goal of becoming a director of public prosecutions (DPP)?
MT: My plan is to work my way up by seeking out opportunities within the government sectors. I'll then try to matriculate to being a clerk of court. My hope from there is to make that ultimate crossover to becoming a DPP; but for now, I'll remain strategic, focused and positive.

YL: Given the competitive nature of the modern work world, what's your advice to teens making themselves marketable in such environment?

MT: Building their personal profile is important! Many persons are getting distinctions at the CXC level and degrees. When you go for an interview, the interviewer will be looking at your personality. What's that distinguishing factor about you that gives you that edge? I'd encourage them to get involved in club services, community services or some national involvement to capitalise on their character development. Academia is only one foot in, but they'll need the full package to be marketable.

YL: Tell us about your involvement in the group EducaTours.
MT: I'm the special projects coordinator at EducaTours Jamaica. This is an excursion company that exposes students to the tangible and intangible aspects of our culture via educational tours. We do this through the utilization of innovation, gamification and technology. We bring learning to our youth in a unique way outside of the classrooms. We take them on geographical tours throughout the island and teach them about various historic sites, thus they get to learn their heritage in a youth-friendly way.

YL: You speak passionately about community involvement. How have you played your part in such involvements?
MT: I mentor students at the Denham Town High School in Kingston through a United Kingdom programme called Debate Mate. Students learn through this initiative to argue in a hearty and logical manner in conflict resolution, instead of using their argumentative skills to tear down each other. I've also partnered with EducaTours, which facilitated an educational tour for students within Kingston and St Andrew to the Blue and John Crow Mountains. This was a part of my JCDC Festival Queen project.

YL: As the current JCDC Miss Kingston and St Andrew Festival Queen and third-place winner in the overall competition, what are the positive lessons with which you've walked away?
MT: I have grown significantly and I've walked away with a lot more confidence. I have better knowledge about deportment and speech, all credit to the hard work of my parish facilitators. I've left the competition knowing that a complete woman is one of substance and self-worth and not merely form.