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22
Tue, Aug

Attorney-General calls for restructuring of legal education in the country

Ms Gloria Akuffo delivering her address at the launch of the 58th SRC week celebration of the Ghana School of Law at Makola, Accra

The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Ms Gloria Akuffo, has called for the restructuring of the current legal education system in the country in tandem with modern trends.

According to her, the current system in which Literally Legum Baccalaureus (LLB) holders from tertiary institutions would have to complete an additional programme at the Ghana School of Law (GSL) before being certified as lawyers was not realistic.

“We cannot continue to run a system where the National Accreditation Board (NAB) is accrediting a number of institutions to offer law degree programmes while, by law, the General Legal Council (GLC) runs the single law school. It is not realistic,” she stated.

Speaking at the launch of the Ghana School of Law’s 58th annual Law Week in Accra last Tuesday, Ms Akuffo said the existing structure, including the facilities and lecturers of the Law School, was limited, thereby restricting the intake of LLB holders for further study of additional programmes.

She, therefore, called for the establishment of other faculties, aside from the campus at Makola in Accra, and the employment of more lecturers to enable the school to admit more LLB graduates.

The celebration is on the theme: “Restructuring legal education in Ghana: The role of the stakeholder”.

Standards

While calling for changes in the whole legal education system, Ms Akuffo refuted the perception that standards and the quality of the law profession would be compromised if the system allowed for more people into the profession.

“I do not share the view that we have too many lawyers. It is retrogressive thinking and the excuse that we want to cut down the numbers to maintain standards is not acceptable. In every profession, we have the quacks and so limiting the numbers is not the solution,” she said.

Basis

Delivering the keynote address, a former Vice-President of the International Criminal Court, Mrs Professor Justice Akua Kuenyehia, explained that considering its limited resources, the GLC established the Independent Examinations Board (IEB) and the entrance exams and interview as part of the recruitment into the GSL.

Although the various reforms had received criticisms and protests from some members of the profession, she said, the number of graduates from various law faculties in the country and the limited resources of the GLC required a medium to guarantee quality of legal education.

Prof. Kuenyehia suggested that the entrance examination requirement be regularised by a legislative instrument because an entry requirement was essential to preserve the quality of students who qualified to be called to the Bar.

Another option, she suggested, was for the GLC to approve universities which had the facilities to offer both academic and professional training of lawyers.

“The IEB may then be tasked with organising intensive and rigorous Bar exams for the practical skills needed for the qualifying certificate,” she added.

The President of the Students Representative Council of the GSL, Mr Samuel Gyamfi, said the celebration of the Law Week presented an opportunity for retrospection assessment of the past and a period for recognition and celebration of the successes chalked up.

The Vice-President of the Ghana Bar Association, Mr Anthony Forson, urged the students to stick to the ethics and values of the profession and also uphold its integrity.

Background

There have been some disagreements over the conduct of examinations and admission to the GSL for some time now.

Previously, the GSL examined students internally, but about three years ago, the GLC, which has supervisory jurisdiction over legal education in Ghana, decided to take over the conduct of examinations from the school.

The council, subsequently, set up the IEB, with the responsibility of conducting entrance examinations.

But since the establishment of the board, there has been muted anger from both students and lecturers, who contend that the body is an anonymous one whose members are neither known nor a governed by any statute.

And last year, more than 100 students failed in at least one subject, a development the students described as tragic.