The move by the government to set up a law school in Guyana seems to be getting a negative response from top lawyers in the diaspora. One of them who is based in London said, “This is madness beyond comprehension. It is myopic thinking. The demand for legal education has fallen with the collapse of world economy”. Another wrote, “There would be little or no cross fertilization of ideas. Caribbean students would not want to attend law school in Guyana. The Guyanese students who attend would receive a parochial legal education and the Guyana economy would not be able to absorb them.”
My view is that Guyana has enough lawyers and moreover Guyana has a quota of 25 every two years to attend the Hugh Wooding Law School. The country needs engineers, scientists, accountants, doctors and specialists in fields other than law. The medical school in Guyana had a shaky start, but bounced back and produced several recognized specialists, but I was informed that it has lost its accreditation, but it is working to regain it. The authorities should concentrate in this important area rather move into a new venture.
It is true that scores of LLB graduates are waiting to gain admission to the law schools. Belizian students who gained their LLB degrees at the University of Guyana do not automatically gain entry to the Norman Manley Law School because of the limited space, in addition to which they are required to write an entry examination. Jamaican students also have to wait quite some time to gain entry, and a few years ago the then Principal of the Norman Manley Law School, Stephen Vascianne advocated a double shift in order to facilitate the students.
The terms of the MOU have not been released, and at this point it is not known if the government is contributing financially to the project, and if so to what extent.
What is known is that an outside agency is setting up the school with permission from the government. The Advisor of the Law School venture spoke of specialization in areas such as Environmental Law, Intellectual Property, Civil Aviation, Maritime Law and Tax Law. He also touched on the important area of continuing education.
Continuing legal education is being encouraged in all the districts in the United States and the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has embarked on judicial education and President Sir Denis Byron said that he will do everything possible to assist in the furtherance of judicial education in the region.