The UPSA Law School has organised a two-day legal conference, mentorship summit and a career fair. The event sought to fill a critical gap in engagements among lawyers, law students, judges, academia and policy experts and was intended to provide a platform for exhibition, interaction and mentoring.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor of UPSA, Professor Charles Barnor described the symposium as a great initiative.
He said the legal conference and mentorship fair presents stakeholders the opportunity to critically engage pertinent issues affecting the training and practice of the law in the country while providing mentorship to prospective lawyers.
He noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought grave challenges to all aspects of human life including businesses, and the legal profession was no exception.
He added that this has necessitated a rethink of approaches to doing business and service delivery. To achieve this, Prof Barnor said, it was imperative for stakeholders in the legal sector to come together and brainstorm while charting a new course for the future of the legal profession.
“Clearly, a fundamental feature of the contemporary legal system is the existence of platforms on which the three dimensions of these systems namely; law schools, the bar and judiciary engage and interact on a sustainable way and this conference has been designed to achieve this objective,” he said.
The Pro-Vice-Chancellor commended the dean of the UPSA Law School for consistently putting up conferences, webinars and seminars aimed at developing and adding value to the student body, faculty as well as educating the Ghanaian populace.
The special guest of honour and Chief Justice of the Republic of Ghana, His Lordship Justice Kwasi Anin-Yeboah, in a speech delivered on his behalf by Justice Getrude Torkornoo on the theme “Law Practice in a Modern and Uncertain Era’ stated that the practice of law hinges on four unchanging pillars.
These unchanging pillars, he said, are the concept of law, content of law, law practice within an industry and practice of law with skills and ethical values. His Lordship Anin-Yeboah explained that these fundamental pillars of the law were neither affected by modernity nor uncertainties.
Justice Anin Yeboah stressed that as law students, this foundational understanding must sit firmly in their legal philosophy, adding that without this appreciation, one’s learning and understanding and functioning within the arena of law may be derailed.
Dean of the UPSA Law School, Professor Ernest Kofi Abotsi, described the legal conference and mentorship fair as a historic moment for reflecting on the legal profession as well as the future of law students in the country and the future of the Bar itself.
He lamented that in the past, the avenue for law students to interact with law firms before they become legal practitioners was practically non-existent, leaving most law students to wobble in the dark or having many dreams of young lawyers squashed due to the unavailability of mentors or career guides.
“Law students today in spite of the internet are still wobbling in the dark because even when you go on a [law] firm’s website there’s not much one can see,” Dean Abotsi said.
“We do not have that opportunity of interacting with law firms before we become lawyers. We do not have the opportunity of mentorship for us to be guided on the path of professional development even after we become lawyers.”
He emphasised that it was therefore imperative that law students in the 21st century were provided with the platform to understand the future of the profession they were seeking to join while offering an opportunity for lawyers to reflect in retrospect on some of the practices that continue to shape or undermine the profession in moving forward.
“Today provides an opportunity, for the first time, for the students of law, practitioners of law, law firms and even judges to interact on one platform about the practice of law and then to have a first-hand encounter with law firms who have exhibited their practice on our campus.”
The two-day legal conference and mentorship fair was put together by the UPSA Law School with support from AB & David Africa, and brought together high-profile law firms and legal practitioners including Ms. Diana Asonaba Dapaah, Deputy Attorney General, Prof. Raymond Atuguba, Dean of the University of Ghana Law School, and Mr Kwasi Prempeh-Eck, Director of the Ghana School of Law.