This afternoon in the common room a consultative session on the law course reform was organised by ELSA, GHSL and JCA.The aim was to give law students the opportunity to clear up issues relating new law course structure, which will mainly effect the current 1st and 2nd year law students.
Present for the confrrence were Prof. Kevin Aquilina the dean of the faculty of laws, Hon.Owen Bonnici the Parliamentary Secretary for Justice, Dr Rueben Balzan president of the Chamber of Advocates, and a representative on behalf of the Ministry of Education.
As expected the main issue dealt with was the “Dr. Title” debacle that law students falling under the new structure were facing.
Dr. Balzan pointed out that the title infront of the name is not a real problem in the working world of a lawyer.
Dr Owen Bonnici also tried to explain that with the help of the Attorney General a solution was being sought to the one that was experienced by dentistry students. While not graduating with a Doctarate dentistry students are still allowed to use the ‘Dr.’ title. Apparently this has not been set in stone and the issue still needed to be looked into.
Students falling under the new system, will be following a four year course which will lead to a Bachelor of laws with honours followed by a ‘general’ law Masters programme and not a specialised Masters. However they will only be allowed to sit for their warrant exam after they have had two years of practice as opposed to the current 1 year requirement.
As Dr. Balzan explained, the first year of practice will be held during the first year of the Masters programme while it is not entirely clear whether the the other year of practice is going to take place during the fourth year of LL.B or as an additional year after the proposed Masters programme.
One thing that is certain is that the current 2nd year law students will be graduating from University in same year as their 3rd year counterparts will. While the former will graduate in Masters of Law, which name has not been selected yet, the latter will graduate in Doctorate of Laws, what is still unknown is whether they will be able to sit for the warrant exam at the same time.
As had been stated by both Prof. Kevin Aquilina and Hon. Owen Bonnici the course change was inevitable as Malta is signatory of the Bologna process with only the Faculty of Laws and the Faculty of Medicine not complying.
The floor was then opened to students to ask questions. Students not directly affected by the changes have questioned how the system will affect them. A few third year students were worried if this new system will prove to be of of disadvantage to them and whether it would create employment problems in the future as their year could potentially see double the amount of law students graduating. Interestingly an issue relating to the level of standards of lecturers within the faculty was raised.
Touching upon the employibility issue Hon. Owen Bonnici assured all students that there will almost certainly be vacancies as even the government is looking for new lawyers to work with them whilst also pointing out that the new reform will open up a good number of new posts that will be available for aspiring lawyers.
On the whole the Confrence was reassuring for most students and was well organized and went smoothly, this does not exclude the fact that similar meetings will be needed in the future. All the panel reassured the students that if they had any suggestions or questions to bring them forward.
Commenting to Insiteronline ELSA and Gh.s.l Presidents Karl Tanti and Clive Gerada both praised the meeting as a successful one whilst hoping that any misconceptions on the issues at hand were cleared up. Mr. Gerada also highlighted that in regard to the ‘Dr.’ title one needs to observe how the precedent caused by the Dentistry course will play out before any conclusions can be made.