The Association of Caribbean Students for Equal Access to the Legal Profession (ACSEAL) affirmed its support of the findings and recommendations contained in the “Final Report on the Legal Education in CARICOM Member States” (hereon the report).
The report was prepared by the IMPACT Justice Project through funding by the Government of Canada.
The report’s terms of reference were to consider the basis of legal education and revise the West Indian System from its initial design in the 1960s; to consider whether the region’s legal education system is adequately meeting the needs of the region; and to research the current and projected demand for legal education and the services of legally trained individuals.
According President and Co-Founder- Jason Jones, in a press release, “ACSEAL and its growing partners are impressed by the research and recommendations made in the report as it is suggestive of positive change regarding the now systemic and institutionalised problems of ‘Discrimination in Legal Education and Access to Justice to the Legal Profession’”.
Jones highlighted noteworthy findings and recommendations of interest to ASCEAL. “[T]he establishment of the UTech Law School in Jamaica, as well as Law Schools in Guyana and Antigua; the abolition of preference-based admission policy to the regional Law Schools which presently grants automatic entry exclusively to UWI law graduates; recognition of students’ concerns of the lack of transparency and accountability [of] the Council of Legal Education’s (CLE) Annual Entrance Examination; the abolition of the CLE Entrance examination in its current form; and the reconstitution and reorganisation of the CLE,” Jones posited.
This report comes after statements made by CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, in response to a question posed by ACSEAL. LaRocque stated, “[T]he admission policy of Council of Legal Education in giving priority to UWI students is discriminatory and ought to be addressed”.
According to Jones, LaRocque’s position is “consistent with ACSEAL’s position on the matter” and advised that “the matter be addressed by the CARICOM Heads of Government and the CARICOM Secretariat, sooner rather than later”.
ACSEAL is a regional advocacy group for CARICOM nationals with non-UWI law degrees, who are subject to entrance examinations at the regional law schools. According to ACSEAL, “the entrance examination and other admissions practices are unfair, inequitable, discriminatory and lacking transparency”. Therefore, the advocacy group is championing reform to the automatic entry of UWI law graduates to the region’s law school. ACSEAL has representation in most CARICOM member states; J’moul Francis is the group’s representative in Antigua and Barbuda.
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