Examinations at the Ghana School of Law for the professional certificate have come under huge criticisms due to massive failures of students yearly.
Some complain of questions out of the syllabus, other students also complain of unknown marking schemes set, to assess the students. There is a school of thought out there who argues that there is an attempt by the General Legal Counsel and the Chief Justice, to control the legal education system by their own will.
A cursory look at the utterance of the Justice Sophia Akuffo, “If people want to do their own law practice, they can go on the internet. Members of the public can go on the internet and turn themselves into lawyers if they want to.”
The Chief Justices utterance gave some section of the public a view that the massive failure of some law students is a deliberate attempt to limit the number of students who would be called to the bar.
In a rebuttal to some of these claims, the General Legal Counsel (GLC) explained that one of the reasons to limit the number of students who are to be admitted to the professional school, and subsequently be called to the bar is due to inadequate space.
This reeks of incompetence and an absence of leadership. Perhaps, that explains the GLC’s defensive posture whenever the issue is brought up. Their attitude is comparable to the proverbial ostrich that buries its head under the sand and believes that the rest of its body is hidden. The GLC believes that by insisting that only a few students are qualified to take the Professional Law Course, their glaring lack of thinking will not be exposed. But it’s clear that, like the proverbial ostrich, it’s only the GLC that cannot see that their behind is hanging high.
The AG’s Department appears to have a more sympathetic posture, never mind that the AG is a member of the GLC and is legally mandated to direct same as she deems fit. But her office is as sympathetic as it is reluctant, even powerless.
All fingers seem to point to the judicial King Kong, the CJ, who claims that “Law is not a noble profession, it is the noble profession.” Perhaps, too noble for the many qualified LL.B holders.
Former Director of Legal Education, Ghana School of Law, Mr. Kwaku Ansa-Asare, in an interview indicated that “the General Legal Council is abusing the trust that the nation has reposed in them and it was time they were told, in plain language, that they should stop the nonsense. Because what they are doing is nonsensical. I can’t understand. As a former director of the Ghana Law School, I’ve got to say it as it is: what they are doing is unbecoming and it was time they stopped. What they are trying to do is just perpetrating fraud on unsuspecting students.”
Other prominent persons such as Rector of GIMPA and Founding Dean of GIMPA Law School, Mr. Ebow Bondzi Simpson, Lawyer and Lecturer at University of Ghana School of Law, Poku Adusei and a Lecturer at GIMPA Law School, Mrs. Clara Beeri Kasser-Tee have all spoken against the bad system of the Ghana School of Law and the decisions of the GLC.
Evidently, notable members of the society agree that there’s the need for a complete overhaul of the current system. The growing consensus seems to be that GLC should be content with its role as a regulator and should step aside from running a law school. If it so desperately wishes to run a law school, there’s no justification for why it should run the only law school. Many faculties have the competence to run the courses that are taught at the law school. LL.B holders may even choose to self-tutor.
The GLC can then ensure quality by simply setting a comprehensive bar exam for those who wish to be called. This idea that anyone who wants access to professional education wants to be called to the bar is not in keeping with modern trends of the profession. In any case, admission into the Ghana Law School does not make a person a lawyer. It only gives access to professional education and an opportunity to take the bar. How then is the fear of producing sub-par lawyers reconcilable with denying people access to professional legal education?
An entrance exam is not a worthy obstacle in the way of law graduates. As a regulator, the GLC could ensure that accredited law faculties are providing the best legal training. With that guaranteed, all LL.B holders from these institutions would automatically qualify to take the Professional Law Course, bringing us back to why the entrance exam was instituted in the first place. .
There’s overwhelming evidence that the only way forward is to open up the legal education and make the necessary reforms for a positive development.