President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has announced plans by the government to introduce a new legislation to regulate professional legal education in the country.
According to the President, the new Legal Profession Bill would make provision for a multiplicity of law schools to train professional lawyers to break the monopoly of the General Legal Council.
Speaking at a conference on the Future of Legal Education in Ghana/Africa, President Akufo-Addo was optimistic that the new Act, currently under consideration, would help address the contemporary challenges in the country’s legal education system.
Access to legal education has become a challenge to many Ghanaians due to lack of space to accommodate the growing demand and public interest in the legal profession.
President Akufo-Addo said although the new law would make it possible for other institutions to train lawyers, the General Legal Council would be responsible for maintaining the standard of education in the system.
“A reform of the system under which legal education currently operate is necessary to accommodate the current realities. The system we come up with will be guided by strong element of sustainability”.
“Sustainable legal education will have, as its base, the establishment of a regime that will consider the pressing needs of the growing law student population and the expected demands of the generation unborn that will study law. It will be qualitative in its operation, but with a fair and balanced quantitative selection system,” he said.
The new regime, according to the President, would “streamline the regulatory dualism between the Ghana Tertiary Education Commission and the General Legal Council when it comes to legal education. I have to restate my conviction that the General Legal Council must have the final say,” he said.
He indicated that he has already asked the Attorney-General to fast-track the balance of consultations on the Legal Profession Bill, and lay it before Cabinet and, ultimately, Parliament as soon as possible for enactment.
“This Bill aims to address comprehensively the issues of legal education in Ghana today. It must dispel the notion that the legal profession is a guild, a small club of mostly men, which is difficult to penetrate,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo, nonetheless, indicated that even if the new Legal Profession Act, which is under consideration, provides for a multiplicity of law schools to regulate the teaching of the professional examinations, and break the monopoly of the General Legal Council in that regard, “there can be no substitute for the General Legal Council being responsible for the maintenance of standards in the new system”.
Despite the reforms, President Akufo-Addo stressed the need for stakeholders to ensure that the standard in legal education was not compromised.
“A badly trained lawyer is a danger to society. A badly trained lawyer can cause untold damage to life and property, and a badly trained lawyer will bring the legal profession into disrepute much faster than any revolution”.
Present at the forum were First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Joe Osei Wusu who represented the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, and Justice Jones Dotse, a Supreme Court Judge, among a host of dignitaries.
BY YAW KYEI