Bernice Lake

Dame Bernice Lake QC, a UCL Laws alumna, was the first woman from the Eastern Caribbean to be appointed Queen's Counsel, in 1985.

Who is Bernice Lake and what is her connection to UCL?

Dame Bernice Lake QC was born in the British Overseas Territory of Anguilla in the Carribean. She attended school in St Kitts and then moved to Jamaica to study history at the University of the West Indies. She began working as a diplomat for the West Indies Federation, a union of Caribbean islands that were part of the British Empire at the time. When the organisation disbanded owing to internal political conflict she changed career, moving to London to study law at UCL.

At university she displayed an early interest in civil and political rights by dedicating her spare time to causes such as the campaign against apartheid in South Africa. Following her graduation in 1967 she returned to St Kitts, where she specialised in human rights and constitutional law. In 1971 she founded her own law practice in Antigua.

What is inspiring about Bernice Lake?

Bernice Lake was respected legal scholar and expert in constitutional law. She was the first woman from the Eastern Caribbean to be appointed Queen’s Council (QC) and her expertise as a lawyer and passion for justice and human rights left an impressive legacy both in the political and public sphere. Antigua and Barbuda bestowed a knighthood on Dame Bernice in 2004, for her contribution to the legal field, her stance on women's issues, civil and political rights and personal integrity.

What is her legacy?

Lake was instrumental in the creation of the Anguilla Constitution in 1975 and part of the team that framed the Antigua and Barbuda Constitution in 1981. She was a supporter of the Caribbean Court of Justice and spoke eloquently on the need for separation of legal and political concerns. She contributed to newspapers and public political debate in Jamaica and her strong views on the obligations of politicians, human rights and press freedom were echoed across the Caribbean.