General Legal Council must embrace, not hinder foreign-trained lawyers – Prof. Prempeh

By Kofi Ayim

Professor H. Kwasi Prempeh, a law professor at Seton Hall University, New Jersey has highlighted the need for attorneys of African descent practicing in the US to look toward home and foster collaboration with their counterparts in light of the new African renaissance.  Professor Prempeh was the keynote speaker at the first dinner dance of the Association of Ghanaian Lawyers of America (AGLA) in New Jersey on Saturday, August 3, 2013.  Professor Prempeh teaches constitutional law at the Seton Hall Law School. Ghana’s Permanent representative to the UN, H.E., Ken Kanda, was the guest of honor.

Professor Prempeh encouraged US-trained Ghanaian lawyers to respond to growing opportunities in legal education, law reform, and business and transactional matters back in Ghana, and challenged the legal community in Ghana to be similarly open to and welcoming of peer influences and collaboration with their foreign-trained compatriots practicing abroad. He noted that with legal practice becoming increasingly internationalized and foreign investor interest in Ghana growing, “this is not the time for the Ghana legal profession, and for that matter, the General Legal Council, to become insular.”  He called on the General Legal Council “to reconsider and reverse its new policy” that imposes “onerous and unfair barriers to entry against foreign-trained Ghanaian lawyers seeking to be admitted to the Ghana bar.” He described the new policy as “regrettable” and “without demonstrable public interest justification.” Ghana’s General Legal Council recently extended its 3-month post-call training program required for attorneys admitted to practice in other common law jurisdictions to 1-year, and increased tuition costs to £6,000 (UK Pounds) beginning October this year.  Both critics and observers believe the legal atmosphere of the General Legal Council is not receptive enough, even hostile to embrace diasporean lawyers that might want to ply their business or resettle in Ghana. “We don’t know whether it is fear or jealousy, but it is unfortunate anyway you look at it,” an attorney who pleaded anonymity remarked. “The antagonistic pose of Ghanaian professionals against their foreign-based counterparts cuts across every facet of life, including politics” another chipped in.

Speaking on the diaspora’s involvement in Ghana, Ghana’s Permanent Representative to the UN, H. E. Ken Kanda, congratulated AGLA on the strides it has made in the community in its five years of existence, and recommended the newly established Diaspora desk at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a useful resource. 

Also at the event, AGLA honored Professor Essien, a senior member of the association for his involvement in Fordham University’s annual summer law program in Ghana, his commitment to AGLA, the law, and to the Ghanaian Community, among other endeavors.  AGLA president, Kwaku Boafoh Agyeman, described Professor Essien as “a legal stalwart” whose contribution to the law both in Ghana and the US warrants recognition. Mr. Agyeman said Professor Essien is a “selfless individual worthy of every honor we bestow on him today.” Professor Essien serves as a member of the board of advisors of the National Council of Ghanaian Associations and as a patron of Kwakwaduam Association of New York.

Ambassador Kanda who was a classmate of Professor Victor Essien at the University of Ghana, Legon congratulated him for the honor bestowed on him. Professor Victor Essien, is currently an adjunct professor of law at Fordham University. 

The Vice President of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA), Mr. Peter Zwennes, reiterated the GBA’s commitment to continue collaborating with AGLA to explore common areas of mutually beneficial professional interest.  Mr. Zwennes also congratulated AGLA on its achievements and its newly formed chapter in Maryland, D.C. and Virginia under the leadership of Kwaku Denkyi Ofori. 

About 20 members of the GBA who attended the function were in the U.S. for the annual American Bar Association’s (ABA) conference in San Francisco.    

Posted by on Aug 21 2013. Filed under top stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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