The Chief Justice, Mrs. Georgina Wood, has asked the country’s legal professionals to build a culture of public-spiritedness in order to erode the 'lingering distrust' in the profession.
'There is a lingering distrust among lay people about lawyers and the legal profession and one way of redeeming our image is by contributing to the public good,' she said.
At a ceremony to launch the 49th Students Representative Council Week of the Ghana School of Law in Accra on Monday the Chief Justice urged the students to use their training and education to help build a just society.
The week, which coincides with the school’s golden jubilee celebration, has the theme, 'Fifty years of quality professional legal education-the changing phase of legal practice'.
Mrs. Wood said that the constitution guarantees equal justice to all and directs the state to provide free legal aid to ensure that no citizen is denied justice by reason of economic or other challenges.
It is for this reason that the Legal Aid Board has and continues to show public spiritedness, she said noting that the indigent and disadvantaged want basic legal problems addressed.
The board, she said, 'is constantly overwhelmed by the sheer number of people seeking relief, due principally to the lack of human resources and facilities'.
She said law is described as the learned profession, and 'that label will be undeserved if lawyers are trained simply to become skilled artisans, ready to grab fees, sometimes from the unsuspecting, for their craft'.
The Chief Justice said that the school in its 50 years has contributed a great deal to the development of the country, saying 'it has produced lawyers who today work as magistrates, judges, solicitors, senior management executives and legal advisors'.
'Unfortunately, the schools in spite of its 50 years is faced with lack of infrastructure, thus disabling it to realise its full potential to catch up with global changes in modern legal practice,' she said.
'In short, it is lagging behind other law schools of repute,' she stated, adding that the situation certainly impedes provision of high grade, quality education for lawyers sorely needed for the country’s fast paced development.
Mrs. Wood said that now is the time to tackle this problem affecting the school, and therefore urged corporate Ghana and the alumni to assist the school come out of its doldrums.
The acting director of the school, Dr.Kofi Oti Adinkrah, said the school has over the years not been able to expand its facilities mainly due to lack of space in its present compound.
Notwithstanding, he noted that the school has been able to train out quality legal professionals serving in various capacities in different establishments in the country, noting that the quality of education there has been recognised by other countries including the United Kingdom.
Mr.Dominic Otchere, the SRC president, said the school has come to appreciate the need to demystify legal practice and adopt equally effective techniques for dispute resolution other than the conventional litigation system.
He noted that the litigation system which is characterised by strict application of rules mostly inflexible has resulted in 'choked and over burdened courts making justice inaccessible to many a Ghanaian with its attendance high cost'.
'We think the need has arisen to employ Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanism which is more responsive to the needs of the people,' he underscored.