Guyana’s current arrangement with the Council for Legal Education (CLE) for 25 Guyanese law students yearly to attend the Hugh Wooding Law School (HWLS) in Trinidad and Tobago will expire in 2018, according to Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister, Basil Williams SC.
But Guyanese law students can breathe a sigh of relief coming 2018 since a local law school is expected to be established by then allowing students to complete their legal education certificate at home.
Guyana today signed today, at the Georgetown Club, an agreement with the University College of the Caribbean, and the Law College of the Americas to establish the local law school.
Williams SC said the CLE, the Caribbean legal education accreditation body, gave Guyana permission to establish a local law school two decades ago.
The school would be named The JOF Haynes Law School of the Americas (JHLSA).
Dr Trevor Hamilton, a close affiliate of the initiative, said since Guyana is a sovereign state, the school will operate under Council Of Legal Education which makes it a law school with regional regulated oversight.
It will be a law school that operates just like those in Trinidad and Tobago, and the Bahamas. Students can practice all over the region, Hamilton added.
The lawyers we want to produce will be lawyers that can impact major changes and will impact the development of Guyana, Hamilton continued.
He said too the school will not only focus on legal education but also on continuing education, which could see the creation of new legal industries.
Hamilton plugged Guyana as one of the cheapest places in the Caribbean to live so we expect there will be a lot of cost benefit.
“We expect our work to start this year. We know that the law and economy of Guyana will not be the same again because legal education is right here and everyone can benefit,” He added.
Education Minister Dr Rupert Roopnaraine said his ministry is working to provide the kind of modern education youth and children need. He said there has been talk of the law school for a while and to see it happening is satisfying.
Professor Dennis Gayle, UCC’s executive chancellor and interim president, said the school will help to bridge significant gaps in demand for legal education in the Caribbean and the provisions which currently exist.
This school, according to Gayle, will mitigate the space issues and long waiting list observed for legal education in the Caribbean where the demand for same is not reasonably met.
Cabinet recently approved the public-private partnership between the Guyana government and the University College of the Caribbean and the Law College of the Americas.
Courtney Wynter, chair of the LCA, said the strength of the institution will be its capacity to end the situation which caused qualified professionals to not explore legal practice because of restrictions. He said the agreement challenges historical practices.
Dr Barbara Redford, a deputy vice chancellor at UG, told the gathering the Law School can remove what has been a challenge to graduates of UG in securing the legal education certificate. She said the LEC is required before someone is called to the Bar to practice as a lawyer.
The UG deputy VC said the narrative that someone can be excluded from continuing their legal education not because of merit but because of space does not stand right. She said the Law School would change that reality.
AG Williams SC said there still needs to be a feasibility study for the project. The land space for the school is yet to be acquired but the University of Guyana will work closely in the initiative.
There is an expectation that tuition for the law school would cost less than education at the Hugh Wooding Law Schools and other schools.