Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 3rd 2014 Contents | PROFILES |
MAGAZINE | 5
By Onika Nkrumah-Lakhan
A WARM HANDSHAKE and friendly smile
greets me as I'm ushered into an office lined
with red law books. Tall, graceful and fabu-
lously dressed is Kalana Prince-Wilson,
lawyer; mother and wife. She's married to the
scion of a 50 year-old law dynasty, who fol-
lowed his father and uncle into the legal pro-
The proverbial sky's the limit for this legal
butterfly who packs the sting of a bee, as an
opposing counsel found out to his dismay
when she pointed out that his license had
been revoked, prompting the magistrate to
ask him to vacate her court.
WOW: What inspired you to become an at-
KP-W: I have always been about fairness and
justice. My mother said I used to dress up
and play court when I was little, so I guess it's
WOW: What were your greatest chal-
lenges to becoming an attorney?
KP-W: I obtained a Law degree from the Uni-
versity of London, so my entry into the Hugh
Wooding law school wasn't automatic. I was
required to sit an entrance exam for external
students to compete for limited space. I was-
n't on the initial list of successful students
and I was crushed. Fortunately, I received a
call from the law school; I was being ac-
cepted; another student had deferred their
entry, thereby making one additional space
available! That experience taught me not to
take anything for granted; I was very aggres-
sive when it came to my studies. Also, when
I decided to start my family, I was pregnant
during my second year of law school.
WOW: What advice do you have for young
women who want to follow in your foot-
KP-W: Believe. Do not compromise. If you
don't achieve what you want at first, perse-
vere. Your hard work and faith will pay off.
WOW: Has choosing to wear your hair nat-
ural been an issue in your profession?
KP-W: Do you mean before when I had the
Afro, or my current 'fro-hawk? (laughs out
loud). Mine is a very conservative profession
I've had some quizzical looks, I've had people
approach me and say that they love my hair!
I think that some persons may be taken
aback at first, but my professional approach
usually causes them to quickly forget about
WOW: Your hair is remarkable only be-
cause of the angst that has historically in-
formed such hairstyles. Debates continue
about what hair is acceptable in profes-
sional circles, but you've never complied
with the generally acceptable corporate
looks. Previously, you were a product exec-
utive with a leading company and you
KP-W: I've always had a very distinct sense
of style. I don't believe that I need to change
who I am to fit into any particular mould. It's
amusing when I open my mouth and see
people's ideas about me change right before
WOW: You work in your husband's prac-
tice. How has that experience been, work-
ing so closely with your significant other?
KP-W: Our schedules are so different and
hectic, we barely see each other in the office
most days. It's a blessing to have my hus-
band for a second opinion. But it can be diffi-
cult to turn off work mode when we're at
WOW: What advice do you have for the at-
risk young men of this country?
KP-W: A lot of our young men think in the
moment. They hardly see themselves in the
future, and this influences the choices they
make. There's really nothing to live for, so
there's no fear of engaging in risky behaviour.
So I say, dream. Think of yourself in the fu-
ture, work and live toward that. I'm a living
example that anything is possible, no matter
WOW: What do you enjoy most about the
KP-W: I like the research and I enjoy winning.
But I've found that my greatest joy has been
helping people to resolve matters without
dragging them through the Court, especially
when relationships are involved.
WOW: What are your thoughts on the
state of T&T's criminal justice system?
KP-W: We have a lot of work to do, but we're
on the right track. Recently, I've witnessed
some welcome changes; I've seen certain
areas become the focus of reform. There is
much dialogue about restorative justice, for
example, the introduction of drug courts that
would focus not only on the offense but on
reforming the offender. I anticipate that drug
courts would make a difference, especially
where recidivism is concerned. We need to
move quickly to implement these changes. It
must be a cooperative effort; each citizen
must get involved in making the change we
want to see. Start in your own homes, with
WOW: With so many lawyers in the family,
do family gatherings sometimes turn into
KP-W: When we meet up with my husband's
sister who is a judge, then it's almost in-
evitable that we talk shop. We all have very
clear viewpoints and express them but it has
never gotten to courtroom status.
WOW: Are there any lawyers that you ad-
mire and why?
KP-W: Mr. Fulton Wilson, my husband. He's
an impressive advocate but he's very unas-
suming. I also admire Ms. Gillian Lucky, who
is the chairman of the Police Complaints Au-
thority. She is formidable, a true patriot, and
one of the humblest persons I've ever met.
WOW: How do you give back to your com-
KP-W: I believe that giving back starts with
my family. I encourage the younger ones to
follow a different path. I also teach a young
adult class at my church, and I give motiva-
tional talks at schools.
I've always had a very distinct sense of style. I
don't believe that I need to change who I am
to fit into any particular mould. It's amusing
when I open my mouth and see people's ideas
about me change right before my eyes!
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