Outgoing Chief Justice, Sophia Akuffo, has indicated that there may be no drastic changes to Ghana’s legal education system even after her exit.
According to Sophia Akuffo, who has had defended the strict legal education regime, law students with the hopes of seeing standards lowered after her exit will be disappointed.
Speaking at a sending-off ceremony held in her honor at the Supreme Court, Justice Sophia Akufo noted that the incoming Chief Justice, Anin Yeboah, is one who believes in high standards and will not also compromise on legal standards.
“We need to be very serious about standards about legal education if we do not want to end up with lawyers who do more harm than good. Even though we do not have the same tenets as the medical profession where it says do no harm, I think we can adopt that tenet to make sure that we will not in any way harm anyone in this country from unprofessionalism. I know people have been [hoping for] when the new Chief Justice comes… but they don’t know. I think that he is even more of a stickler than I am. Let us maintain the standard of the profession because that is what differentiates us.”
During Sophia Akuffo’s tenure as Chief Justice, there have been agitations at the Ghana School of Law over the mass failure of students in the Bar Examination.
Due to the high failure rates, many have therefore called for serious reforms in the country’s legal education regime.
Among the suggestion are for the space to be opened up and General Legal Council (GLC) stripped of the power to conduct entrance exams and the three Schools of Law it operates, to be made to function as law faculties that will competitively be training LLB students who can sit for general bar exam and qualified candidates duly called to the bar.
But, Sophia Akufo has maintained that the existing systems and structures for the training of lawyers in the country will not be changed despite public outcry.
Speaking at the ceremony, however, Justice Akufo reiterated her position arguing that there is a need for the country to uphold high standards in the legal profession in order for the lawyers trained in the country to meet international standards.
“Standardization makes life easy for everybody. It is predictability and minimizes corruption because when you establish standards and you let the whole world what the measures and standards are, everybody knows what to expect. If you think the standards are too high and need to be adjusted, then we adjust it and publicize it for the whole world to know. But, it will not do a nation any good to compromise on standards because without standards, we will never have excellence and without excellence, we will never go forward as a nation.”