Legal Experts Deliberate On legal Education In Ghana
4/15/2012 9:33:14 PM -
Legal experts Friday held a meeting in Accra to brainstorm on how to improve and expand legal education in Ghana.
The meeting, which was convened by the General Legal Council, also deliberated on some key policy initiatives already taken by the council.
Until the 2006/2007 academic year, students who were admitted into the Ghana School of Law (GSL) were mainly from the University of Ghana (UG).
However, since 2006, the UG graduates had to compete with their counterparts from the Law Faculty of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and law graduates from other common law jurisdictions, for admission to the school.
Currently, there are a number of private universities offering Bachelor of Law degree programmes. Products of these tertiary institutions aspire to gain admission into the GSL.
That, the Chief Justice Mrs Georgina Theodora Wood, observed was, “bound to have serious repercussions for the GSL and the quality of legal practice in Ghana.”
Speaking at opening session of the meeting, the Chief Justice observed that a lawyer was an advocate of just causes and democracy, even in the face of repression by the government and at personal risk and financial expense.
“A lawyer articulates the unexpressed, but felt views of her people, particularly the vulnerable, and marginalised. “
“The lawyer in whatever capacity she finds herself — whether as solicitor, barrister, law reporter, legal administrator, corporate counsel, magistrate, judge or justice — was to advance the best interest of society without compromising ethics,” the Chief Justice said.
In that regard, she said, the overhaul of the legal course in Ghana was long overdue.
That, she explained, would ensure that products of the Ghana School of Law were equipped to meet the development needs of the country, impact society positively and leave a lasting legacy for succeeding generations to build on.
She said the legal profession must be in the front line of access to justice and the elimination of all forms of injustices .
“In a fast changing world, the public’s perception of the law and the role of legal practitioners in society cannot remain static. Lawyers are not supposed to be mere legal technicians handling court briefs for the clients for fat fees,”
The Deputy Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr Ebo Barton-Odro, said the legal system in the country was undergoing a number of reforms to improve justice delivery.
He observed that an efficient legal system could be an effective attraction for investors.
In spite of its enviable record, the GSL continued to face a myriad of challenges, occasioned largely by the steady increase in the number of student intake.
To address the challenges facing the school, the General Legal Council set up a committee chaired by Justice Sophia Akuffo, to identify the gaps and detail proposals for comprehensive and far-reaching reforms for legal education in Ghana.
The recommendations by the committee, some of which had been adopted for implementation from the 2012 academic year relate to areas including admissions, the course structure and duration at both the degree and professional training stages and clinical or internship programmes in professional legal training.
The Director of the GSL, Mr George A. Sarpong, in a presentation, said the reforms had been necessitated by reasons including the need to deal with increasing number of applicants to the school in the face of limited resources and the need to ensure that quality was maintained in professional legal education in the country.