Law school establishment slips another year
Stabroek News
April 6, 2004

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A local law school is not likely to be ready for establishment in time for the 2004/2005 academic year.

This is according to information provided by the Head of the University of Guyana (UG) Law Department Professor, Rudy James.

James said the reasons for this are that no resources for establishment of the school had been made available to the chairman of the committee set up for this purpose. He said nothing seems to be happening since there was no mention in the budget about the school.

Meanwhile, non-Guyanese students attending UG will have no law school to go to, unless they sit an entrance examination. James said they had asked for the non-Guyanese to be accommodated on the Guyanese quota if all the spaces were not taken. However, the Council of Legal Education (CLE) had refused to accept such a position.

Consideration for the establishment of a law school in Guyana was first actively considered during 2002 when the government had decided to discontinue subsidising student fees at the Hugh Wooding Law School.

Among the reasons put forward for the school, was the quota system that restricts the entrance to Hugh Wooding Law School to 25 Guyanese and the tendency of graduates to proceed directly into private practice.

A local task force was set up in late 2002. Members of that committee are the Chancellor of the Judiciary, Desiree Bernard; University of Guyana Vice-Chancellor, James Rose; Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Dr Mark Kirton; a representative of the Bar Association and a member of the AG's chambers.

The Librarian of the University of Guyana had submitted a list of requirements including texts, books and a computerised legal resources programme, a trained law librarian and additional space. Accommodation for the law school was proposed in a building on Parade Street, Kingston, repairs for which were estimated at $30M. The building should house classrooms, offices and a Legal Aid Clinic, that is presently a compulsory requirement for regional CLE-run Law Schools. According to a concept paper prepared by members of the UG Law Department, annual recurring expenditure would be US$81,000. This could be drawn from a subvention and fees of US$179,000.

In late 2003, Attorney General Doodnauth Singh had attended a CLE meeting in Barbados where the establishment of a law school in Guyana had been approved. The Cabinet had also endorsed its establishment.

According to Head of Department, Professor James, the law school would not be under UG management but would be run by a board created by legislation and chaired by the Chief Justice.