MountCrest University College, (MountCrest) the first private institution in Ghana to run a law faculty, has initiated an innovative system of teaching and learning to introduce its law students to lifelong skills that are relevant to the larger legal profession.
According to the Rector of MountCrest, Mrs. Irene Ansa-Asare Horsham , the system, known as the Clinical Legal Education Approach ensures that students learn the law with an element of practical instruction and hands-on experience in different areas of the legal profession both locally and internationally.
Mrs. Horsham was speaking at the 10th matriculation ceremony for fresh law students of MountCrest, which was held online (virtual) in line with the school’s strict adherence to the COVID-19 protocols.
She expressed the hope that the clinical education method will afford the students exciting opportunities that will set them apart when they utilise their LLB degree wherever they find themselves globally. “This is why at MountCrest, we say: Start Here, Go Anywhere!”
The Rector noted that a clinical approach is vital to the preparation of students for life. “Your cohort will therefore be the first at MountCrest to engage in our new additional approach to teaching and learning the law through our clinical legal education to be launched later this academic year,” she told the fresh students.
She assured them that despite the challenges that the Covid-19 pandemic has brought with it, MountCrest remained hopeful that with hard work and dedication, and of course technology, many of the school’s objectives, especially preparing its students for life, will continually be achieved.
She thanked the pioneer teaching and non-teaching staff and students of MountCrest for their hard work and dedication that have positioned the school as an institution of excellence saying, “We truly aim to live up to our motto: Ut Vitam Habeant (meaning ‘That they may have life’)”.
She congratulated the alumni of the school on soaring and shining in their various and diverse fields of endeavour within Ghana and abroad.
MountCrest graduates pursuing the professional law course at the Ghana School of Law, she noted, have consistently acquitted themselves creditably. The first batch of 29 students admitted to the Law School achieved high performance, scoring a 100% pass rate, with all 29 being called to the Bar at first attempt. Subsequent batches have also performed exceptionally since then.
Commenting on legal education in Ghana generally, the MountCrest Rector called for improvements in the system, beginning with the immediate scrapping of the entrance examination for the Ghana School of Law.
She said, “Our system of legal education has, rather than being progressive, become restrictive based on what I consider to be an erroneous notion that we have too many lawyers in Ghana”.
She said legal education must also embrace innovative ways of teaching and learning the law, while expanding as a matter of urgency to include the greater legal profession.
According to the Rector, Ghana also needs qualified graduates that are ‘fit-for-purpose’ to fill the gaping holes in the public sector, in academia, in the administration of justice and management of law practices and train many more academics, parliamentary counsel, legislative draftsmen, paralegals, clerks and interpreters in courts, legally qualified public prosecutors, and career magistrates among others.
“Restricting access to legal education is thus a step backwards for our development and that restriction must be removed as a matter of urgency,” she pointed out, and also stressed that, “We at MountCrest believe that the time for an overhaul of our system of legal education is now”.
The first step, she said, is to scrap the entrance examination to the Ghana School of Law immediately because that examination creates a danger of taking away the focus of law faculties from training ethically responsible graduates with a strong sense of good governance and social justice to rather focusing solely on strategies aimed at passing the law school entrance examination at the end of the LLB and in effect produces what she called, “walking encyclopaedias”.
She observed that this approach is insular and regressive and does little to contribute to the socio-economic needs of the country, adding that Ghana needs law graduates who appreciate the importance of ethics, strong research skills in knowing where to find the law and producing more knowledge, and strong practical critical thinking and analytical skills.
The Acting Registrar of MountCrest, Ms. Ama A. Akor performed the administration and subscription of the Matriculation Oath to the students.
The Deputy Registrar, Academic and Students Affairs, Mr. Ernest Koomson on behalf of Dean of the Law Faculty of MountCrest, Mr. Kwaku Ansa-Asare, presented the matriculants and urged them to study hard in order to achieve their academic and career dreams for the benefit of Ghana and the world at large.
On behalf of the students, Ms Helena Baaba Botchway said they were privileged and proud to be matriculants of, undoubtedly, one of the best private universities in the country, producing the best brains for Ghana and the world at large. “We have no doubts in our minds that we have made the right choice. The future ahead of us is certainly bright with this choice,” she added.
“We commit to live by the rules and tenets of the university as we embark on this all important journey to success. We commit to assist management to continue to make MountCrest a beacon of quality education, she pledged on behalf of the students.
Fifty-eight alumni of MountCrest were among those most recently called to the Bar, with the prize for Advocacy and Ethics awarded to Ms. Akua Afriyie-Badu, who obtained her LLB from MountCrest with First Class Honours.
Captain Jamal Tonzua Seidu, pioneer student of MountCrest and a current member of the school’s Law Faculty, also recently graduated from the Georgetown University with a Master of Laws (LLM) in Energy and Environmental Law with double academic honours.