An Interview with Ms. Matthews


Q:What is the best advice anyone has given you ?

A: Bill Stuntz, my criminal law professor, affected me in so many ways. Although he has now passed away, what he instilled in me is the ability to see and convey the bigger picture. It sometimes feels as though our legal system quickly degenerates into one of competing interests. Prosecutors, defence attorneys and the judiciary sometimes seem focused on their own institutional goals at the expense of true justice for the parties involved . With these competing interests there is a tendency to forget what is truly important. Professor Stuntz helped me to see the humanity in law.

Q:With a degree from Harvard Law School, you could have gotten a job anywhere. Why lecturing and why Jamaica?

A: I think there are more important things in life than making rich people richer. I’ve been there and done that. As a CARICOM national I care very much about Caribbean development. I see teaching as an investment in the human capital of this region. It’s about more than just teaching law for me – It’s about grooming my students to lead this region and that excites me.

Q: Which country would you like to visit?

A: Egypt or Syria.

Q:You take pride in getting to know your students, what do you want your students to remember you for?

A: Someone who made them work hard. I want them to see themselves doing things they thought they couldn’t do.

Q:What is your advice to the graduating class who will be entering into the working world?

A: You should not be afraid to be challenged. Don’t ever get complacent. Try new things. Love what you do and most importantly, remember to do good things for others just as others have done for you.

Q:Can you give specific advice to law students who are still unsure about their major?

A: It will all work out in the end. Things will eventually come together. Dream, because though it sounds cliché, there is power in dreaming. Imagine yourself living the life you want, not just materially. Be willing to try new things, something you don’t necessarily think you would like.

Q: What do you consider the best and worst aspects of your job?

A: For me, writing exams and grading them are definitely the worst parts of the job. The best part is interacting with my students. I love my students.

Q: Is there one thing you wished you had done while attending university?

A: This might not have as much relevance in this region but in retrospect I think I should have entered the American clerkship program where you clerk for a judge in federal court for a year or two. I think this experience would have allowed me to see the inner workings of the judicial process.. But, for the most part, I think I did everything else I wanted to do. 

© Rushell Malcolm and Odane Lennon 2013 

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