The recent announcement by Presidential Advisor Gail Teixeira that the government is seriously thinking of establishing a local law school in light of the recent decision taken by the Council of Legal Education to no longer grant twenty-five LLB students from the University of Guyana places in the Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad is a step in the right direction.
The Council of Legal Education seems to be very short-sighted in their management of the three law schools. If you have a total of five institutions (the three UWI branches, UG and University of London external programme) turning out students with LLB degrees, then one would expect the CLE to increase the physical infrastructure of the three law schools to accommodate the growing number of students who want to complete their two years practical training at these institutions to acquire the certificate which would enable them to practise law in the Caribbean Community. With students paying US$24,000 in fees for the two years of study, it clearly shows that the CLE could make the necessary improvement to its infrastructure to accommodate the growing numbers and still be economically sustainable; discriminating against non UWI LLB degree holders seems so retrogressive for an institution that is supposed to be forward thinking and is tasked with the responsibility of providing Caricom with the necessary skilled legal personnel.
The implementation of the entrance examination by the Council of Legal Education (CLE) in which non UWI LLB degree holders have to write an entrance exam in order to gain entry into any one the three law schools is very discriminatory, and reflects an elitist mentality.
Why should a student who has successfully completed his/her LLB/JD now be compelled to write an entrance exam to enter a law school because their degree was not granted by UWI? Is the CLE implying that non UWI institutions are not of the same quality in terms of their teaching and student output? It is rather unfortunate that a major academic institution in Caricom can implement a policy of academic marginalization, and this is embraced by policy planners tasked with providing equal opportunities to access legal education by those seeking to advance their legal careers.
The local law school when established should be named the Desiree Bernard Law School in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the legal profession in Guyana and the Commonwealth Caribbean.
Michael Baird Jr