Supreme Court Justice Gertrude Tokorno is advocating that stakeholders in Ghana’s legal education should consider training solicitors to work in hand with barristers so as to ease what she refers to as unnecessary pressure placed on legal education and legal profession in the country.
As a keynote speaker at the 5th Legal Luminaries Platform organised by the Law Students’ Union(LSU) at the Faculty of Law in the University of Cape Coast, Her Ladyship mentioned that training and certifying solicitors to work hand-in-hand with barristers could bring fluidity in the legal profession.
Speaking on the theme ‘Finding a Balance Between Personal Achievement and Social Responsibility; a Lesson for the Law Student’, the Supreme Court Justice advised students to invest in learning outside the box so that their scope of engagement broadens to pick skills which will serve them much in becoming excellent people.
She noted, however, that lawyers in Ghana are “both the solicitor and the barrister”.
“I think it is an unnecessary weight that we have placed on ourselves and that is one of the solutions I am advocating.”
Ghana has a huge backlog of LLB holders trying to enter the sole legal professional training school in the country, the Ghana School of Law, for courses and certification to practise law often as a barrister or solicitor.
She explained to the law students that “if you get your certificate as a solicitor, you are actually a professional, you are qualified and you get to work in solicitors firm”.
Unlike in other jurisdictions like the UK, the Ghana legal community does not distinguish a solicitor from a barrister, therefore trains and certifies solicitors and barristers together, making enrollment at the Ghana Law School the only option for both potential solicitors and potential barristers.
This has led to teeming graduates of LLB programmes being left to their fate after inability to enroll onto the professional course.
“What you do is that you give legal advice but if the matter must go to the court then you instruct a barrister,” she told the students and further indicated that the value of it is that the lawyer [solicitor] instructs a lawyer [barrister] who is going to court, and the lawyer going to court gets a proper foundation.
“The two of them work within the law so it’s easier to win cases,” said Her Ladyship.
She also admonished students to commit to integrity “to help you to avoid wasting of time in activities with people that will not lead to the destination you have identified”.
“Integrity will help you to be intellectually and emotionally alert about your environment and the effects of your environment on your capacity to achieve the goals of your life.”
A law lecturer at the University of Ghana Law Faculty, Dr Sena Dei Tutu, who was also a speaker for the programme, also conscientised the students to be helpful to their communities by being socially responsible.
She outlined voluntary work and environmental friendliness among community services they could consider.
President of the LSU Felix Assan was convinced the student body has benefited from the event to balance their personal achievements and social responsibilities.
Closing the ceremony in a rhythmic remark, chairperson for the occasion, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast, Professor Joseph Ghartey Ampiah, emphasised: “Watch your watch, watch your ways, watch your actions, watch your thoughts, watch your habits, watch your watch so that you will be a person of integrity that people will trust.”
UCC Law Students’ Union’s Legal Luminaries has hosted personalities including President Nana Akufo-Addo.
By Spencer Kwabena Boateng Mensah|3news.com|Ghana