Today the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Senior Counsel(SC) Basil Williams, at the Georgetown Club, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the University of the Caribbean (UCC) and Law College of the Americas (LCA) for the establishment of a law school in Guyana.
The partnership will see the investors holding a 70 per cent interest in the Law School, while the Government of Guyana will get the remaining 30 per cent.
The public private partnership will see a feasibility study being undertaken before the construction of the law school.
Williams reminded that Guyana had received permission from the Council of Legal Education (CLE) two decades ago and noted that the establishment of the Law School is an “important moment”.
“We have hundreds of LLB holders and graduates who cannot enter into the Norman Manley or Hugh Wooding Law Schools, not to even mention Eugene Dupuch in Bahamas because it’s so expensive. And therefore it is very important that this question be addressed and so we are happy”, the Attorney General said.
The establishment of the JHLSA is expected to significantly reduce the cost, particularly to Guyanese, to continue with their law studies while attracting other students from across the Caribbean. “I think it will be less burdensome to be a student at the JOF Haynes Law School in Guyana than elsewhere,” the Attorney General opined.
The Law School, which will be named JOF Haynes Law School of the Americas (JHLSA) after the renowned Guyanese jurist, will widen access in a demanding market that is constricted by spacing. The Attorney General explained that the Law School will be on the same level with the other regional law schools since they all fall under the Council of Legal Education.
Advisor to the Minister on the law school venture, Dr Trevor Hamilton assured that graduates from Guyana’s new law school will be eligible to be called to the Bar here in Georgetown and other CARICOM states.
However, the JHLSA goes beyond producing lawyers, Dr Hamilton said. “You can create all sorts of new industry out of law…we are looking at the bigger picture…not just to train the conventional lawyer but to look at the whole legal industry and the legal service industry,” Dr. Hamilton reasoned.
Meanwhile, Minister of Education Dr Rupert Roopnarine expressed his pleasure on the joint venture and pledged his Ministry’s support in all its endeavours.
Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Guyana, Dr Barbara Reynolds also commended the partnership citing the importance of education in moving the country forward.
The Law School will fall under the aegis of the CLE, the regional regulatory body, and hopes to attract upwards of 400 students when its campus is constructed and opened sometime in 2018. In the meantime, the law school will begin registration for the two-year Legal Education Certificate (CLE) programme in September of this year.
Graduates of the Bachelor of Laws (LLB) programmes at the UCC/LCA Law Faculty, as well as graduates from other law faculties across the Caribbean, will be given priority admission to the planned two-year programme at the JOF Haynes Law School of Americas effective September 2017 January 2018.
Also, present at the signing of the MOU were Chairman of the LCA Courtney Wynter, Executive Chancellor and Interim President of the UCC Professor Dennis Gayle. Both signatories to the MOU expressed their delight in the partnership and lauded the many advantages of the JHLSA among which include increased access to law students to pursue their studies.
Currently, only 25 Bachelors of Law (LLB) graduates from the University of Guyana are allowed into the Hugh Wooding Law School, in Trinidad and Tobago, through a collective agreement between the University of Guyana, University of the West Indies and the CLE. The Attorney General had secured funding for the 25 students until 2018 last year.