U.S. Teen Is Youngest Ever To Pass Britain's Bar Exams

Aug 4, 2013
Originally published on August 4, 2013 6:38 pm

At 18 years old, Gabrielle Turnquest has become the youngest person to pass Britain's bar exams.

The Florida native told NPR's Jackie Lyden her family influenced her decision to study law in the United Kingdom. Her mother had studied in the U.K. and she joined an older sister who was also studying law.

She graduated from college early, too — at 16, she was the youngest person to ever get a psychology degree from Liberty University in Virginia.

Turnquest plans to return to America to sit for the U.S. multistate bar exam and hopes ultimately to work in the fashion industry.

"I've always been interested in it," she said, "Because, honestly, I don't see how you can't be. We all wear clothes. It's around us all the time."

The average age to take the British bar is 27. To practice law in the U.K. Turnquest would need to undergo a year's training, known as a pupillage, before she could be certified to work as a barrister.

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LYDEN: This week, we met a young woman who looks like a kid lawyer, Gabrielle Turnquest. She hasn't even gotten her braces off yet. She's 18 years old and has just become the youngest person ever to be admitted to the bar in the United Kingdom.

Turnquest was born in the Bahamas but grew up in Florida, and joins us now from Orlando. Welcome and a big congratulations, Gabrielle.

GABRIELLE TURNQUEST: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

LYDEN: This is just an extraordinary tale. You've got a lot of education for an 18-year-old. I guess you graduated from college early as well. Where?

TURNQUEST: So I started out at Valencia College and then transferred to Liberty University where I got my Bachelor of Science in psychology.

LYDEN: And so you graduated when you were 16 years old?

TURNQUEST: I was 16 at the time, yes.

LYDEN: Why did you decide to study law in the U.K.?

TURNQUEST: At the time that I made the decision, I had an older sister who was going there. And I think perhaps just having been born in the Bahamas, I had, I guess, a better idea of law outside of the United States.

LYDEN: So tell me about your future goals and what you'd like to do with this law degree. What kind of law are you interested in practicing?

TURNQUEST: I'm interested in looking into what's called fashion law, so its focus is on contracts and intellectual property, but it's all going to be dealing with the fashion industry.

LYDEN: And what do you like about the fashion industry or fashion, and how do these things come together in your mind?

TURNQUEST: Well, initially, I was always interested, I think, in fashion first even before psychology or law. I just wasn't sure which route I was going to take. And I think I'd always thought that perhaps I'd be involved in more of the design element of it, which I still think is a possibility. But having done the law degree, I've now opened myself up to this whole new opportunity to enter it from a different field.

I don't know. I'm interested in learning more about what it takes to run a fashion business and then merging that with the law I already know and hopefully getting some more knowledge on U.S. law.

LYDEN: Gabrielle Turnquest is the youngest person ever to be admitted to the bar in the United Kingdom. She's just 18. We wish you really good luck.

TURNQUEST: Thank you so much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.