Prof. Kwaku Asare writes open letter to A-G on Law School Entrance Examination

BY: Prof. Kwaku Asare
Prof Kwaku Asare

Dear Marietta Brew Appiah Oppong:
I am writing you today because you are a member of the General Legal Council (GLC). But even more important, I am writing you today because of your power under Act 32(1)(5) to give general directions, which the Council is obliged to comply with.

The GLC has invited the 298 LLB holders, who obtained a score of 66 or higher on the recent Law School Entrance Examination (LSEE), to attend interviews. The purpose of these interviews is apparently to further reduce the number of qualified LLB students who can start their professional education in October 2015.

As always, the criterion for "passing" these interviews remains a mystery or as they say "lies in the bosom of the interviewers." More important, one cannot find any legal instrument to support this interview requirement, and naturally the "passing" grade. It is one more arbitrary hurdle in the way of those who seek to enter the legal profession.

I need not remind you that the GLC is obliged to operate under the 1992 Constitution. In particular, the GLC is obliged to exercise its discretionary powers consistent with Article 296, which calls for fairness, candidness and due process in the exercise of such powers.

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I am concerned that these interviews are not an acceptable tool for admitting students to the Ghana School of Law as they create an enormous opportunity for the admission power to be exercised arbitrary, capriciously and in biased fashion. I have communicated with several students who have "failed" these so called interviews in the past and I must say I am extremely horrified by their stories.

I draw your attention to the fact that the GLC's admission process has no memory. Thus, qualified LLB students who "fail" these so called interviews in one period have to register to retake the LSEE in a subsequent year and attend another interview, conditional on meeting the new threshold of that subsequent year.

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With no "feedback" on why they failed the interview and having to retake the LSEE with the most recent LLB graduates and the hundreds of prior LLB graduates who have not been allowed to proceed to the GSL, these students face increasingly dim prospects of ever being admitted to the GSL.

At the same time, I also want to draw your attention to the 577 highly qualified LLB students who have not been invited to these problematic interviews. These students are denied the option of pursuing the Qualifying Certificate (QC) presumably because they scored less than 66 on the LSEE. I hasten to add that this threshold has nothing to do with whether these 577 students can qualify as lawyers but rather has to do with a contrived "facility availability" problem.

In reality, with various innovative strategies, including privatizing the QC education and virtual classes, it should be possible to train all the LLB holders. Of course, they still have to meet the QC requirements before being admitted to the Bar.

Incidentally, I must say I have grave concerns about the LSEE. I have located, at least, one student whose reported score was 40 points less than the actual score. This raises fundamental questions about the LSEE quiet apart from the arbitrariness of the threshold, which fluctuates from year to year with no rhyme or reason.

I am cognizant of your position as the Minister of Justice, which obligates you to be in the forefront of promoting respect for rights, the rule of law and the Constitution. I have noted your membership of the GLC and your power to give general directions to same.

It is because of the foregoing that I request, as a matter of urgency, that:

1. You call for the suspension of the impending interviews, allowing all the 298 qualified LLB holders to proceed to the Ghana School of Law (GSL).

2. You call for an emergency meeting of the GLC to discuss strategies of allowing the 577 qualified LLB holders to pursue the QC at the GSL or using other private arrangements.

3. You review Act 32 to bring it to the 21st century

4. You direct that major policy decisions by the GLC be backed by Legislative Instruments and based on substantial public input.