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General Legal Council Admits 81 New Lawyers to the Bar in The Gambia

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Chief Justice Hassan Jallow, Justice Minister Dawda A Jallow and the graduates. (PhotoCredit Kexx Sanneh)

By Landing Ceesay 

The General Legal Council (GLC), led by The Hon. Chief Justice of the Republic of The Gambia, recently conducted its 12th annual Call to the Bar ceremony, admitting 81 law students to the Bar. The event, a crucial component of the Gambia Judiciary’s Legal Year Commemoration, took place on Monday.

Established under the Legal Practitioners Act, the GLC plays a pivotal role in regulating the legal profession in The Gambia. It focuses on admission to legal practice, maintaining professional conduct standards, and overseeing legal education. The Council comprises members from the Bench, the Bar, and the Attorney General’s Chambers.

During the ceremony, Hon. Chief Justice Hassan B. Jallow, Chairperson of the GLC, emphasized the lifelong commitment required for success in the legal profession. He highlighted the importance of continued education, training, and learning from seniors, stating that a lawyer’s journey involves a lifetime of hard work and dedication.

“Having completed your academic and vocational part of your training doesn’t mean that you have finished your studies. The life of the law is one of continued education, continued training, and continued reading. We always say what we need as a lawyer is a reasonable amount of the law. A knowledge of where to find the rest, which you don’t know. We need to look for it. The other qualities that are required of a successful lawyer. So there is a lifetime of hard work, of reading, of research, of learning from your seniors is still ahead of you,” Hon. Chief Justice said. 

Hon. Dawda A. Jallow, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, who serves as the Vice Chairperson of the GLC, urged the newly admitted members to uphold ethics and professionalism in their legal careers. He emphasized the noble calling of the legal profession and the need for the highest standards of integrity, fairness, and impartiality.

“As you embark on your careers in the legal profession, it is imperative to reflect on the ethical responsibilities that come with the privilege of practicing law, particularly in the context of our common law tradition. The legal profession is not merely a vocation; it is a noble calling that demands the highest standards of integrity, fairness, and impartiality.

“In our common law jurisdiction, the foundation of legal ethics rests on the pillars of honesty, diligence, and respect for the principles of justice. As advocates, you bear a solemn duty to ensure that the pursuit of truth is accompanied by a steadfast commitment to fairness. Remember that you are not just legal practitioners; you are officers of the court, entrusted with the responsibility of upholding the administration of justice,” Hon. Jallow said. Maintaining the highest ethical standards, according to Hon. Jallow, goes beyond adherence to rules and regulations; it requires a genuine commitment to justice, equity, and the principles underlying the legal system. He encouraged the graduates to be not only proficient lawyers but also compassionate and principled individuals contributing positively to the legal community and society.

“In the pursuit of justice, remember that civility and respect are essential attributes. Treat your colleagues, clients, and the court with courtesy and professionalism. Uphold the dignity of the legal profession by conducting yourselves with decorum and humility, even in the face of adversity,” he said. Mrs. Rougie Thomasi, the Director General of the Gambia Law School, shared statistics on the applicants and enrolled students for the class of 2022/2023. Out of 421 applicants, 90 students successfully completed the journey, with 81 passing the exams. The class included 43 males and 38 females from various nationalities.

“For this class 2022, 2023, there were 421 applicants. We received applications from 71 Gambians, 217 Ghanaians, 19 Cameroonians, 1 Tanzanian, 1 Sierra Leonean, and one gentleman from Italy. We admitted 50 Gambians, 45 Ghanaians, 8 Cameroonians, and 1 Tanzanian. Making the class of 2022/2023 a total of 94 students. Unfortunately, as the journey went on, 2 Ghanaians withdrew, 1 applicant died in an accident, and two others differed. So we ended up with 90 students. 

“Out of these 90 students who are presented to the exams, 44 Gambians passed, 28 Ghanaians passed, 8 Cameroonians and 1 Tanzanian passed, making a total of 81 students. We have 43 males and 38 females who presented here for the call to Bar. It has been a long journey, a very significant journey, and we are all proud and happy to be part of the success story,” Mrs. Thomasi said. 

The GLC, in addition to its role in admitting law students to the Bar, is responsible for the establishment of the Gambia Law School. This achievement, realized in 2011, aligns with the Council’s mandate outlined in the Legal Practitioners Act, 2016, to organize legal education, set examination subjects, establish courses of instruction, and regulate student admissions.

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