Ghana’s General Legal Council Must Embrace, Not Hinder Foreign-Trained Lawyers.

Professor H. Kwasi Prempeh, a professor of law at Seton Hall Law School has highlighted the need for attorneys of African descent practicing in the US to look toward home and foster collaborations with their counterparts in light of the new African renaissance. Professor Prempeh keynoted the dinner dance of the Association of Ghanaian Lawyers of America (AGLA) in New Jersey on Saturday, August 3, 2013. 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, Professor Prempeh urged 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.” 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. 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. H.E. Kanda also congratulated Professor Victor Essien, his classmate at the University of Ghana, currently an adjunct professor of law at Fordham University. AGLA honored Professor Essien 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. 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 have since left to attend the American Bar Association’s (ABA) annual conference in San Francisco.