External law students appeal to AG for chance to practice

Over 600 stu­dents study­ing law at for­eign in­sti­tu­tions in­tend to gath­er out­side the Par­lia­ment to­day, hop­ing to seek an au­di­ence with the At­tor­ney Gen­er­al to con­vince him to amend the law to al­low them to prac­tice.

Law stu­dent Tegan Med­i­na made out the case on be­half of the oth­er stu­dents on CNC3's Morn­ing Brew Pro­gramme to­day.

 

Med­i­na said a rul­ing by High Court judge Vasheist Kokaram to up­hold a con­sti­tu­tion­al mo­tion brought by Grena­da-born St Lu­cian lawyer Di­anne Jhamil­ly Hadeed put hun­dreds of stu­dents un­der tremen­dous fi­nan­cial and emo­tion­al strain.

In the law­suit, Hadeed, who re­sides in Trinidad, was chal­leng­ing Sec­tion 15 (1A) of the Le­gal Pro­fes­sion Act.

The seg­ment of the leg­is­la­tion which al­lows T&T cit­i­zens who do ob­tain a post-grad­u­ate Le­gal Ed­u­ca­tion Cer­tifi­cate (LEC) from the Hugh Wood­ing Law School an av­enue to be ad­mit­ted to prac­tice law.

Cit­i­zens, who ob­tain post-grad­u­ate qual­i­fi­ca­tions in the Unit­ed King­dom or an­oth­er Com­mon­wealth ju­ris­dic­tion and are ad­mit­ted to prac­tice in those coun­tries qual­i­fy un­der the sec­tion af­ter com­plet­ing a short six-month course at the law school in­stead of the two-year LEC pro­gramme.

"I spoke to one in­di­vid­ual yes­ter­day and she said she cried since the judge­ment came out. She was emo­tion­al­ly af­fect­ed be­cause she would have paced her­self and ex­pend­ed mon­ey and put things in place and it's an emo­tion­al and fi­nan­cial bur­den be­cause she is now be­ing told the train­ing she would have put in for the LLB, she can go no fur­ther, " Med­i­na told Morn­ing Brew host Hema Ramkissoon.

She said un­less Kokaram's judge­ment is over­turned, hun­dreds of stu­dents will see their dreams of be­com­ing at­tor­neys "va­por­ised."

She said the dif­fi­cul­ty stu­dents had with the rul­ing, oth­er than hav­ing to en­dure a fur­ther two-year pro­gramme at a re­gion­al law school be­fore they can be ad­mit­ted to the bar, is the lim­it­ed num­ber of spaces avail­able at those schools.

She said in con­trast, stu­dents who study law the Uni­ver­si­ty of the West In­dies are au­to­mat­i­cal­ly ad­mit­ted to the Hugh Wood­ing Law school.

"For those stu­dents who are ex­ter­nal, mean­ing they don't have a UWI law de­gree, they would got­ten ei­ther from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Lon­don or Ox­ford or Cam­bridge, they have ef­fec­tive­ly would have to write an en­trance ex­am to de­ter­mine if they could go to the re­gion­al law schools. The is­sue with that is that all UWI stu­dents are al­lowed au­to­mat­ic en­try in­to re­gion­al law schools and there is no fixed num­ber for ex­ter­nal stu­dents so that we have to write an ex­am­i­na­tion in or­der to be al­lowed in­to Hugh Wood­ing but there some­times five places, some­times as much as 50 places but there are no num­ber that is fixed so there is an un­cer­tain­ty as to whether you will be ac­cept­ed in­to the re­gion­al law schools and then to be ad­mit­ted to the bar."

Med­i­na said the stu­dents will gath­er in front of the Par­lia­ment hop­ing to get an au­di­ence with At­tor­ney Gen­er­al Faris Al-Rawi to plead their case.

Reporter: Sharlene Rampersad

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