Style Observer

Cocktails With... Judy Grace Hylton

Sunday, July 22, 2018

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When attorney-at-law Judy Grace Hylton steps into a room, the compelling overlap of her style, effortless grace and cool confidence serves as a certified attention-grabber.

A member of the Jamaican Bar Association, Hylton has been a legal practitioner since 1988, specialising in conveyancing, real estate development, probate and administration, estate planning and trusts. She has conducted lectures in Conveyancing/Probate law both at her alma mater Norman Manley Law School and for private real estate broker companies, because she enjoys imparting information and sharing knowledge which will help others.

The co-managing partner for Hylton & Hylton Attorneys-at-Law, a four-attorney conveyancing practice, and mother of three is a distinguished past president of the Rotary Club of St Andrew, and now serves as the assistant governor for Rotary District 7020.

How does she do it all? We found out recently, in between mimosas at the Rotary Club of Trafalgar New Heights Installation ceremony.

What has been your most challenging civil litigation case?

Very early in my career I had a wrongful dismissal matter in which I represented the employer, and the aggrieved employee was represented by a well-known QC. We won simply because the law was on our side, but it is always a battle of the nerves when a young counsel faces a Queen's Counsel in court.

How do you unwind?

Reading, walking and meditation. I read a lot, and almost everything. I know that's crazy, given my profession, but I actually crave reading. Words jumping off the page are like a balm to my anxious mind. I just need to have a lot of it to calm my mind. My reading list is quite eclectic and always enjoyable. I also meditate daily. Meditation allows me to mentally manoeuvre amidst everyday stresses, to accept what is transpiring and to find peace. I also love to walk, when and where it is safe and convenient. My current walk for calm space is the Palisadoes strip. Between reading, walking and meditation, I am able to restore my mental balance.

What was the pull of the Rotary?

Rotary's credo of giving back and providing service above self without the expectation of getting back something tangible in return resonated with me. I am happy to give back without any accolade or praise in return. I wanted to make a positive and beneficial difference to my community and to people. I love people. I like being around them and helping them where and when I can. Rotary offered a means by which I could pool my resources and abilities with that of like-minded persons in order to make a positive impact on our society.

What is the formula for balancing a reputable law firm and holding a top position in the Rotary District?

Well, it helps to have a spouse and law partner who is also a Rotarian! But I'm a nerd and an organisation freak and it helps that our close-knit family is also driven, organised and practical. I therefore set aside specific hours when I am actively doing work for Rotary and those hours that are totally dedicated to the firm. It's not a perfect system but it allows me to touch on each area of my life and to balance it out as equitably as possible.

Is it really a man's world?

Yes! But I believe that it is changing slowly but surely. It helps when women lend a helping hand to assist each other; to keep the elevator door open for the next woman entering; to listen and learn from constructive criticism and not to be afraid of being feminine. You don't have to be a female version of a man. Be proud to be a woman.

Share with us a favourite line or phrase.

A book, I was taught long ago in English class, is a living and breathing document that grows richer with each new reading.

And...

“If you want to bring a fundamental change in people's belief and behaviour...you need to create a community around them, where those new beliefs can be practised and expressed and nurtured.”

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell

Favourite meal to prepare?

I enjoy cooking. My favourite meal to prepare is oxtail and beans with coconut-infused rice and peas, fried ripe plantains, steamed mixed vegetables, and potato salad.

When did you know conveyancing and real estate development were going to be your specialties?

When I returned home to Jamaica to live and accidentally fell into a conveyancing practice. I really intended to renew a litigation practice, but it was not meant to be. If you enjoy jigsaw puzzles then you will enjoy a conveyancing and probate practice because it is all about fitting the right pieces of the puzzle in this case — the applicable principles of the law — to creating a useful solution. I love jigsaw puzzles.

8:00 am or 8:00 pm?

8:00 am!

You're on a deserted island. What are your five must-haves?

So, is there any expectation to be rescued? Because if I am going to die there I will go in style and will have books, water, wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and a knife.

What is your approach to “get the job done in the shortest possible time, with the least amount of stress”?

Remain calm; understand what needs to be accomplished; organise how to do this; and create a workable solution.

Going out or staying in?

Both. I love going out, but hook me up with a good book and some wine and I am not moving from my patio!

Describe your favourite travel destination.

Somewhere where there are a lot of museums to explore, walking trails to discover, a whole lot of delectable food options, lots of shopping, wine tasting, and excellent options for entertaining night life.

What is your most prized possession?

A little bed that my daughter made for me out of paper. It has a woman lying in bed and she wrote 'get well soon, Mom'. She was about eight years old at the time and wanted to cheer me up. It was so creative. I still have that little paper bed in my bedside table drawer.

Best investment in family?

Teaching my children to read. This released their imagination and creativity, opened up new worlds and possibilities, and exposed them to unfathomable options — and they have all benefited from this.

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