The Ghana Bar Association made up of the Bench, Bar and Faculty convened in Accra to engage in discourse on, ”the survival of the Legal Profession in a changing World”. Clearly, the changing world is one that points to Digitization, ”Digitization is described as allowing to sell or for that matter do business without a physical presence”.
Thriving in the Legal Profession:
Ghana’s Legal professionals without a doubt believe that Digitalization has come to stay, and they ought to keep up with the times, besides, it would promote and facilitate the scope of work of the ”Learned People”.
A Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Gertrude Torkornoo answered the question, ”Can we thrive in a virtual World”? She concluded in the affirmative, but with the caveat, ”Share, harmonise, support”.
Justice Torkornoo explained that thriving in a changing world is a possibility, but, the Legal Professionals must begin even more than ever before to devise more relevant ways of sharing information, harmonizing their results and work, and above all, support each other to keep thriving.
”All staff must get used to emails”, she said as a basic requirement in the digitization agenda. ”Thriving in the midst of social media’ ‘is critical, she posited. This means, ”moving human activity into technological space”, Justice Torkornu pointed out.
Even as Lawyers, Study, Share and Synchronise, as the paradigm shifts towards less human interface, Justice Torkornoo insists that ”delivery of Justice through technology, must not leave anyone behind”, clearly that would defeat the caveat of ”justice for all”.
The way forward:
Ghana Bar Association President, Yaw Acheampong Boafo could not agree enough with the paradigm shift towards digitalization, reiterating that, ”change brings innovation”, ” the effects of Covid-19 calls for self-introspection”, he said, and devising new ways of delivering justice without direct contact with client/s.
”Going forward,…….” lawyers have to invest in technology”, professional development he said cannot be put on the back burner.
He challenged the ”Learned People”, to take advantage of the African Free Trade Area, ACFTA, which has created opportunities to facilitate more business across the African Continent. Mr. Boafo said, ”ACFTA would provide diversity in law practice”. Globalization, he said, has also opened up new aspects of law practice, an example is, ”Cyber Security”. Simply, ”having knowledge and skills is not enough”, to keep Lawyers abreast of the issues to thrive in a virtual world.
The Chief Justice of Ghana, His Lordship Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah called on the lawyers to brace -up with the changing trends in the profession. He agreed that Ghana has some challenges with the Judicial System, ”We cannot say there are no problems in the system”, the Chief Justice asserts.
But, was quick to add that’, ”challenges present the opportunity to review and revise the systems”.
Dean, University of Ghana School of Law, Dr. Raymond Akongburo Atuguba did not mince words when he said that, ”the legal profession is at a critical juncture”. He presents that Faculties which serve as nests for the Bar and Bench needs a critical re-orientation in focusing on the fundamental training of Lawyers. He also spoke against what he termed, ”discrimination against legal academics”, viewed with political partisan lenses. Dr. Atuguba posits that, ”in responding to change sometimes, involves stepping back, not necessarily moving forward”.
Honourable Godfred Yeboah Dame, Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, spoke of how his Office is going fully digital to reflect the changing world. He said ”Professional development in the legal profession cannot be over-emphasized”. The Attorney General envisaged and said he is working towards achieving a more efficient and productive Supreme Court in the future.