Q1: How did you get here? (Director of Legal Education)
I was called to the Ghana Bar in October 1988. I also hold an LL.M from Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Upon my return to Ghana I worked at the law firm of Hencil Chambers, Accra for a period before joining Home Finance Company Limited (now HFC Bank Limited) as a Legal Officer from 1994 to 1999. I was later promoted to the position of Head of the Recoveries Department as well as Company Secretary to some of the subsidiary companies of HFC. In January 1999 I resigned from HFC and joined the teaching staff of the Ghana School of Law. I was employed as a Lecturer, and assisted Col. Lodoh (of blessed memory) in teaching Conveyancing & Drafting. By dint of hard work I was later promoted to the position of Senior Lecturer. In September 2012 after having applied for the position and passing the interview I was appointed as the Director of Legal Education and the Ghana School of Law.
Q2: What would you change about legal education right now?
The proliferation and quality of Faculties of Law in the country should be addressed by the National Accreditation Board. My team and I have visited 8 Faculties of Law so far to interact with the respective Deans and some faculty members. It appears to me that most students who enter a Faculty of Law to undertake the LL.B course have the expectation of entering the Ghana School of Law in order to be called to the Ghana Bar. However, the Ghana School of Law is limited in its ability to admit all those who are desirous of entering the School. At the present time, it simply does not have the capacity to admit all the students who desire to enter. It is also mindful of maintaining its standards.
Q3: Predict a significant change in legal practice in the next 5 years.
The quality and standards of legal practice will be greatly improved.
Q4: Who (by nationality) is eligible for admission to the Ghana School of Law?
Ghanaians are eligible for admission. Non-Ghanaians are eligible if they are from a country which has a legal system analogous to that of Ghana, and if their country has a reciprocal arrangement with Ghana.
Q5: Who is qualified to do the Post-Call Law Course?
Ghanaians who have undergone a course of study abroad in a common law jurisdiction.
Q6: What fun fact do most people not know about you?
I attend Calvary Temple, International Central Gospel Church (ICGC), Sakumono branch. At church I am in the Car Park Department, so on Sunday mornings, I work as a Car Park attendant, directing drivers on where to park, opening doors for those in taxis, helping to carry kids etc. It has been an interesting experience.
Q7: How do you manage face and name recognition with everyone?
I think for me being a lecturer shaping the minds of the next generation of lawyers was a big privilege, and so I took my duties seriously. I took a keen interest in the individual students I was investing my time in. When I was a Lecturer, I also handled tutorials for my subject, Conveyancing and Drafting, and before a student made a contribution I would ask the student to introduce himself. My target when the academic year started in October of each year was that I should know each student’s name by February of the following year. It was an interesting challenge I threw to myself, and somehow, amazingly, I was able to accomplish that task each academic year. By the second term, I would know almost every student by name, by academic performance, by temperament, the extroverts, the introverts etc
Q8: Which practice areas need more specialist lawyers?
An increase in Chartered Arbitrators would help decongest the courts, which are currently choked with so many cases.
Q9: Are the anti-advertising rules for lawyers due for a relaxation today?
I believe that in the days of Information Communication Technology (ICT), our clients are global and would need to have an idea about us and our practice areas before they even make contact with us. If it is followed with the necessary guidelines, the rules against touting could be relaxed.
Q10: What would you restructure about the typical law firm?
i. The inclusion of continuous legal education training to each member of the law firm.
ii. Administrative processes in law firms should be implemented and enhanced appropriately. For example, I believe that law firms should conduct more formal interviews before they recruit new lawyers into the firm. Most of the time, a new lawyer is recruited by virtue of some kind of association with the law firm he/she is joining and so the recruitment process is not too rigorous, if at all.
Q11: Why do you think hourly billing isn’t popular in Ghana?
The general low income levels of a lot of the clients who come to our law firms is such that they would not be able to support the practice of hourly billing, with the exception of corporate clients. Besides, Ghanaians are not paid by the hour so the concept is alien and difficult for a typical Ghanaian to embrace.
Q12: How do you explain to your foreign clients that the law on international business transactions is fair?
It is fair because foreign companies might have to engage experienced local law firms to provide them with legal opinion on the requirements on enforceability of contracts they execute in order to ensure that their interests are well secured. If, in order to avoid paying legal fees they fail to do this, then when there is a problem, they must suffer the consequences of their failure to do so. It is said that ignorance of the law is no excuse.
Q13: What one thing would you change about land acquisition in Ghana?
The activities of the Land sector agencies, which perform a role in confirming land ownership must be streamlined. The land sector agencies must make the information more readily available to potential purchasers. The Lands Commission Act notwithstanding, there are still major problems with land acquisition in the country.