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October 15, 2017

Justice Barbara Pariente and Doris Laing
JUSTICE BARBARA PARIENTE swore in her mentee of 21 years, Doris Laing, as a member of The Florida Bar on October 3 at the Supreme Court in Tallahassee.

Justice Pariente welcomes her mentee to the legal profession

By Jan Pudlow
Senior Editor

When they first met in 1996, Doris was a quiet 14-year-old ninth-grader in West Palm Beach, and Barbara Pariente was a judge on the Fourth District Court of Appeal. They forged a mentoring relationship through the Take Stock in Children Program, designed for low-income kids who show promise.

As long as Doris maintained a 3.0 GPA, stayed out of trouble, and maintained a relationship with her mentor, she would be able to go to college on a scholarship.

Fast forward to October 3, 2017: Doris Laing, a married mother of two little boys, is hugging Pariente in the Florida Supreme Courtroom, while her family and friends watch the justice swear her in as a brand new lawyer.

Now Pariente is much more than her longtime mentor. Pariente has become a close lifelong friend, who has attended Doris’ wedding to Christopher Laing, provided emotional support when Doris was working on her master’s degree in education policy at Vanderbilt University, supported the family through Doris’ first son’s surgery, and was one of the first to visit after her second son was born.

Despite life’s curveballs, Doris Laing has remained focused and determined to complete what she started: to become a lawyer.

Why the private ceremony to have Pariente swear her in as a new lawyer?

“I am participating in the group ceremony tomorrow, but considering our history, I think it’s necessary, right? It’s a natural thing to have started more than 20 years ago, to have gone through as much as we’ve gone through, to now be here. It just makes sense, don’t you think?” Laing said, brimming with a broad grin.

Pariente blinked back tears as she said, “It’s a relationship that over the years really grew and matured. Just to see her blossom this way into this remarkable person!”

Laing said she would like to be hired as either an assistant public defender or assistant state attorney.

“My upbringing fostered compassion to assist, not to mention the fact that a lot of children who are in the juvenile delinquency system are black children. So that strikes me even more. I think that I am well equipped to advocate for young people.”

[Revised: 03-13-2018]