Rejoinder: Two lawyers suspended after getting pregnant
An Accra-based private law firm, Legal Ink Lawyers & Notaries, has reacted to theghanareport.com publication that two Ghanaian lawyers undergoing a one-year in the firm were suspended because of pregnancy.
The Firm insists it did nothing wrong and sent the rejoinder below:
It has come to the attention of the Management of Legal Ink that two pupils
undergoing mandatory 12-month training with the Firm, who had been
requested to defer their pupillage due to absence and irregular attendance
for training on account of ill-health associated with pregnancy, have caused
various discussions on social media and other circles alleging or creating
the impression that they had been “sacked” or ”suspended” by the Firm.
An article authored by Mr Manasseh Azure Awuni and posted on
theghanareport.com with a caption which sought to create the false
the impression that the Firm had suspended or punished the said pupils by
reason of pregnancy.
Ours is a Firm, which has a progressive policy towards women and has
almost always had more female lawyers than men. The Firm has always
accorded assistance and facilities to the pregnant and nursing female staff of the Firm. Two important management positions in the Firm are occupied by nursing mothers.
We wish to state unequivocally that Legal Ink has not terminated, dismissed
nor suspended any pupil from the Firm for being pregnant nor has it acted
in a discriminatory manner against the said pupils.
In keeping with the Firm’s obligations towards the General Legal Council and considering the health and welfare of both the mother and baby as a priority, Legal Ink opted to defer the mandatory 12-month pupillage to be resumed after delivery.
It must be noted that upon successfully passing the Ghana Bar exams and
after being called to the Bar, a law student is required under regulations 22
of the Legal Profession (Professional and Post-Call Law Course)
Regulations (2018, LI 2355) to undergo a mandatory pupillage of 12 months
before a Licence to practise as a lawyer in Ghana is issued.
This forms part of the training of lawyers. Upon completion of such pupillage, the
supervisor/pupil master is to attest that s/he has taken the pupil through 12
months pupillage and the pupil is now fit to be issued a licence by the
General Legal Council (GLC).
During the period of pupillage, pupils may be given allowances to cater for
their transport expenses and may be retained as Associates at the Firm
after the pupillage upon accepting an offer to be retained. We wish to
emphasise that until a pupil is retained by the Firm after the training, she/he
is not an employee of the Firm.
In a situation where a pupil undergoing training for 12 months is
unable to be physically present in the Firm for training due to ill-health
associated with pregnancy, with the Expected Date of Delivery (EDD) falling
within the 12 months mandatory pupillage period, the Supervisor/Pupil
Master owes an obligation to ensure that the pupil will be able to undertake
the mandatory pupillage within the continuous 12 month period.
In a situation like that, to expect that at the end of the period the Supervisor/Pupil
Master would sign off that this pupil has undergone pupillage when that was
not the case will amount to dishonesty unbefitting of a lawyer.
The fair, objective and reasonable thing to do is to ask the pupil to defer the training
and continue the training when that pupil is physically able to do so.
If the health/wellbeing of mother and child is juxtaposed with the
responsibility of the Firm to give an honest evaluation after the period of
pupillage, it would be highly unethical to require that the Firm puts its
integrity on the line and sign off that a pupil has undergone pupillage when
that is false.
We wish to reiterate that the same policy would apply to a pupil, whether male or female, who for ill-health is unable to meet the requirements of the 12 -month mandatory pupillage under the law.
It is our firm belief that the affected pupils, as lawyers, ought to know the right forum to seek redress if they are of the view and/or conviction that their rights have been violated.
Engaging Mr Manasseh Azure Awuni, who has a personal interest due to a close personal relationship he and his wife have with one of the pupils is unprofessional.
It is for this personal interest that the report failed to capture accurately the discussions between the Management of the Firm and himself.
This conflict of interest situation led to a skewed report filled with accusations and name-calling seeking to
tarnish the image of the Firm.
For example, Mr. Awuni failed to capture in his report the fact that, apart from the pupils absenting themselves from chambers to be trained, there were times they slept in the office and virtually incapable of undertaking training even when they were present.
He also failed to disclose that on one occasion, one of them was dizzy in the office
and was unable to stand on her feet and had to be driven home by another
It is pertinent to add that, a licenced lawyer would be usually asked: “who
trained you?” and the answer would either bring shame or glory to the Firm
and the Firm has an obligation not to produce substandard lawyers. It also
has a vested interest in not producing half-baked lawyers.
The practice of certifying a trainee as having undergone a mandatory
training or service is not peculiar to lawyers.
Doctors undergoing housemanship are required to be certified as having been present and trained before they are licenced to practice medicine. Law Students at the
Ghana School of Law, who absent themselves from class for 28 days are
required to defer the course.
As a Firm, we are fully committed to protecting women’s rights and will at all times remain an all-inclusive professional law firm providing an equal and fair opportunity to male and female lawyers.
Below is the statement issued and signed by the firm.