Galisonga reaction to high failure rate of Lawyers at LDC

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With the LDC results out and the failure rates appearing to be very high, the public debate and concern is understandable and the temptation to think that LDC is failing at its job of training Advocates is also understandable.

As a lawyer and a person who once in a while gets involved With LDC, I was equally appalled and I can say many people like me have been as concerned.

I Can say amongst us-the internal lecturers/LDC management and the external persons like me, in our various fora, there has been heated debates and exchanges and swearing ( I even used the swear word “fuck” at one point), all this has been in good stead and trying to understand where the problem is and how to ameliorate the same.

As some (the largest number of lawyers) were blaming the students, in sync with my character, I chose the minority and I laid the blame on the lecturers with the argument that the first and most important duty of a teacher is to help every student to pass, however weak or strong.

The discussion was very revealing and what became clear is that universities are not doing a good job at training lawyers in the theory and basic principles of the law. Every profession has basic principles, for example journalism has the “7 principles of journalism” now imagine a post graduate student of journalism, who doesn’t know any of them or can’t define/explain any or even contextualize the same? That’s the case. Many students have a limited understanding of the law.

The competition for students at university level among universities, has reduced and/or led to relaxation of the rigorous training that training a lawyer requires, in order to attract students.

For example, a lecturer at LDC who lectures at one of the universities spoke of a saddening experience. Having gone the whole semester without being paid salary, the lecturer held onto the results after marking, hoping that the pressure to release the results would compel the university to pay the salary, upon which the lecturer would give the marks. The university didn’t consult the lecturer but the results were none the less released with made up results, those students went on to complete their degrees and some were admitted at LDC.

Then, having taken away the pre entry, many of the students who had failed in previous years or couldn’t be admitted because they failed pre entries, some as far as 15 years ago, took advantage and joined. These “rusty” students certainly were bound to be exposed by the high standards of LDC.

Then the pleasures that present life presents. LDC requires 110% concentration if one is to stand a chance of passing. It’s difficult to pass LDC exams while continuing to live as if you’re not an LDC student. Everywhere in the world “Bar exams are dreaded and passing the same is not a given.

While it is possible some Lecturers may have competence issues, (and LDC as a quality assurance institution continuously works to improve its systems) there’s no taking away the fact that the University training is like mining diamonds… at mining(university), what one has is rough diamonds and LDC does the work of a “diamond cutter”, who shapes the diamond into a faceted gem. However skilled the cutter is, he can’t get a gem out of a hardcore rock!

Sad as it is, failing at LDC, rather than passing because LDC fears the backlash, provides opportunity to the students to concentrate, read hard, improve and pass. Ultimately this protects the clients (we call it the unsuspecting public) who must rely on the advocate’s counsel. Many bad cases are being filed, a lot of bad agreements are leading to litigation and failure of businesses because of incompetent lawyers and it’s in the wider best interest of the public, that only those who deserve to pass and become Advocates actually pass.

I have a case in point. Sometime last year, a Sudanese client, who desired to hire construction equipment (worth about 800m) for a month came to me with an agreement, prepared by a lawyer…purportedly for hiring the equipment, at a price of about 70m. What the lawyer had actually prepared was a “hire-purchase agreement” basically the lawyer was selling her client’s property.

Thinking the client was not explaining to me what he exactly wanted, I asked him if he actually wanted to buy the equipment and more emphatically he said no! I don’t want to buy. I’ll return the equipment after a month and I’ll be paying the money in weekly installments till I return them.

I called the lawyer to point out the mistake. In the rudest voice she asked me not to teach her the law! “ I know what I am doing!” Thirty minutes later she calls me back to say, “ you might actually be right…prepare the agreement very fast and send it to me!”

A few can survive the sieve…it always happens but LDC must maintain the high standards. And you parents/guardians be more careful where you take your children to study the law. Also you law students, if you want to ever practice the law, read hard right from first year. Understand the principles. Earn your degree and you will never find difficulty at the “Center”, as we call it.

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