The challenges being faced by those who practice law or are desirous of doing so have been recognised by the Coalition Government, according to Attorney General (AG) Basil Williams. The AG, addressing those gathered for a simple ceremony to honour top performing students from the last four years of the Hugh Wooding Law School, said that it was commonly held that there were too many lawyers.
He added that many feel that the number of lawyers, particularly within the region is difficult for many countries to maintain financially.
“Contributions to the Hugh Wooding Law School or the Council of Legal Education Schools under its aegis, it is generally accepted that countries cannot pay their full contribution or that they should pay some contribution”.
It is a result of the aforementioned that, “A lot of countries want to establish their own law schools,” the Minister stated.
He listed Antigua, The Bahamas, and Jamaica as a few of the regional members that either want to start their own law programmes or expand what they currently offer. Guyana currently has a quota of 25 places for its local University of Guyana Law graduates, and even this has become “problematic” according to the Minister. This has to be addressed, especially since the full LLB Degree is done locally, he opined.
With an intake of close to 200 Law students annually, Minister Williams said something has to done. He explained, “Whether we establish our own law school or we are going to contribute to the Hugh Wooding Law School, we need to have that agreement that had established Guyana’s position signed again”.
It was further explained that even in signing that agreement, the late Head of the University of Guyana Law Faculty, Sheldon Mc Donald insisted that Guyana’s programme had come of age as the best students were being produced on a consistent basis, “and we really didn’t need to be second marked”, Minister Williams said.
In the near future, a meeting of the Council of Legal Education is scheduled to be held in the Bahamas and Guyana will make its case at the forum. The AG stated that Guyana will look at the draft agreement among the University of the West Indies, UG and the Council, “and so that question will have to be dealt with”. There have also been talks about a public-private partnership involving a Jamaican university to establish a Guyanese law school. A presentation will be made soon and this will then be taken to Cabinet, he added. “We have to continue to explore what are the options for legal education in Guyana, bearing in mind since 2002; the government had stopped contributing to the Council of Legal Education.” (GINA)