I read with great concern a report in the local media that the Council of Legal Education (CLE) will not automatically place 25 UG Bachelor of Law (LLB) students at the Hugh Wooding Law School.
The report did not state the reason why the CLE is denying the UG students – a practice, or I should say a rule, which was in effect since the establishment of the CLE in 1972. The report only stated that the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall met with UG Vice Chancellor and he was challenging the decision through Caricom. The report added that the Guyana Government will seek to engage the heads of government to address the issue when they meet this weekend.
Guyana’s allocation has always been 25 even before UG was offering the full LLB degree course. In fact Guyana in the early years never utilized all the places. There were only five in the first batch of law students followed by three the next year.
Like my colleagues in the early years, I did Part I LLB at the University of Guyana and the second and third years at Cave Hill in Barbados, and then went to the Hugh Wooding Law School. This was the procedure until 15 years ago when UG started the full LLB programme. In fact as far as I am aware the government of Guyana is contributing to the University of the West Indies and the Council of Legal Education for the training and I am at a loss as to why now there are no automatic placements.
I know for a fact that non-Guyanese students who did the LLB programme at the University of Guyana were not automatic choices for professional training at the Hugh Wooding Law School, Norman Manley Law School in Jamaica or Eugene Dupuch in the Bahamas, since the agreement for entry to the law schools only caters for Guyanese law students.
While I served as Solicitor General of Belize a few years ago, I represented that Central American country at CLE meetings in Jamaica and Barbados and I fought vigorously for Belizian students who gained their LLB degrees at UG to be allowed entry to the Norman Manley Law School since Belizian students are assigned to Jamaica while Guyanese, Trinidadians, and Windward Islands students are assigned to Trinidad and Tobago.