Written by Joanna Hughes

With only three law schools in the region and Guyanese law students relegated to just 25 costly spots at a Trinidad institution due to zoning, Guyanese President David Granger recently made a plea to the Council of Legal Education (CLE) for increased access to legal education. Here’s a closer look at the situation, as recently reported by Stabroek News.

A Call for Change

In his feature address at the opening ceremony of the 50th meeting of the CLE earlier this month, Granger implored, “Guyana’s need for a greater number of legal practitioners cannot be satisfied by the present quotas imposed on our students at regional law schools. Guyana looks forward to the Council of Legal Education to facilitate the education of more specialized legal practitioners in the Caribbean and in Guyana itself.”

This is consistent with a three-year push by Guyana to establish its own law school -- for which it requires CLE approval in order to be recognized throughout the Caribbean.

“Much Work to Do”

In addition to limited spaces, Guyana’s aspiring legal professionals also face cost-prohibitive studying and living expenses in Trinidad, further deterring them from law careers and exacerbating the shortfall of legal professionals.

“So, there is much work to do, for the Council to improve access to all corners of the Caribbean. These measures should include, if necessary, embracing new technologies which support their objectives. They should ensure, also, that non-discriminatory admissions to the regional law schools are made available,” concluded Granger.

Granger’s position was backed by Attorney General (AG) Basil Williams, who cited forthcoming social and economic transformation as an additional incentive to increase access.

He said, “Considering these new changes, it is imperative that legal education keep pace with the evolving times. If not, the profession’s ability to meet the new demands of society will be hampered. It is these changes that have stirred up the strong desire in our young people to become a part of the legal profession. Today, more persons are enrolling in law school than ever before. More Guyanese, especially considering our changing economic times, are pursuing studies in law. Our citizens want to be active participants of and beneficiaries in the development of their country and the region.”

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.
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