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General News of Wednesday, 21 October 2020


From being rejected at GSL to graduating with an LLD: The story of Theophilus Edwin Coleman

Theophilus Edwin Coleman graduated from University of Cape Coast (UCC) with a first-class degree in Law but failed to pass the entrance examination to the Ghana School of Law (GSL), Makola, to pursue a Professional Law programme.

Yes, that famous Makola law programme, the sine qua non for any mortal within Ghanaian legal jurisdiction to be called to the Ghana Bar Association as a Lawyer, or if you prefer, Attorney, or perhaps Counsel, whichever you think is more prestigious.

Theophilus Edwin Coleman was very shocked and disappointed when a few years ago, an assessment exam indicated that he could not qualify for the prestigious Ghana School of Law.

Coleman decided to seek a higher qualification, by travelling to South Africa for a master of law aka LLM and a doctor of laws aka LLD.

“I completed UCC Law School in 2016 with a CGPA [Cumulative Grade Point Average] of 3.83. It came as a surprise that I failed the exam – and many of my classmates were also surprised! I don’t think I underestimated the exam, so I really don’t know what happened,” Coleman recounted in a recent Joy News report. “I even got a very rare opportunity to prep most of my classmates that made it to Makola. So, it came as a surprise to me…...I felt a bit disappointed in the system, especially knowing I couldn’t challenge the outcome.”

Coleman enrolled at the University of Johannesburg where he graduated top of his class in International Commercial Law under that university’s LLM programme.

He further pursued studies for the award of an LLD on the theoretical foundations and practical perspectives of the concept of contractual freedom and autonomy in Commonwealth Africa.

Coleman was invited to serve as a Research Fellow at the Institute of European Law in Germany. In 2018, he received an award from the Ghana National Students’ Awards Scheme as one of the Six Most Influential Student Personality in Ghana [home and abroad].

He is now an alumnus of The Hague Academy of International Law, The Netherlands. He underwent an internship programme at the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH).

For his LLD, Coleman explored how commonwealth African countries ascribe respect to the notion of contractual liberty by taking into account the politico-economic orientations of governments, pronouncements by courts, constitutional underpinnings, and the impact of traditional African values [such as Ubuntu] on contract and commercial law jurisprudence.

For his thesis, Coleman developed a matrix for assessing the degree of respect and commitment to contractual freedom and autonomy in Commonwealth Africa.

Life in academia, where his excellence is truly appreciated, currently keeps him going as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Centre for International and Comparative Labour and Social Security Law at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa.

Coleman has charged at the Ghana Law School’s professional programme as “a repetitive system… a book chapter I and a colleague worked on”.

But will Theophilus Edwin Coleman, pursue his Professional Law programme at Ghana School of Law?

He said: “I do not see myself going to Ghana law school anytime soon. There are so many problems with legal education that has to be resolved. One of it is the lack of academics. The number of doctorate holders in law can be counted couldn’t even get to 60. The average currently is around 42. So there is a real problem.

"Besides, I believe, if becoming a courtroom practitioner is a calling, then becoming a teacher of that practitioner is a higher calling. I believe I have that higher calling and will therefore fully commit myself to academia,” he stated.

He added that "my goal is to make academia attractive and encourage young smart law students to embark on the path of the higher calling, instead of making that monotonous decision of going to Ghana law school.”

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