PDLP students excited to interact and hear from CLA President


The current Professional Diploma in Legal Practice (PDLP) cohort at The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Laucala and Emalus Campuses had the privilege to participate in an interactive public lecture yesterday delivered by the Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA) President Dr Peter Maynard.

Dr Maynard, originally from the Bahamas, is an expert, but not limited to complex civil litigation and asset tracing and recovery, having practised law for more than 40 years.

Through the assistance of the Fiji Law Society and the USP School of Law, the cohort of 48 PDLP students, inclusive of the participants from the Emalus Campus in Vanuatu, received some timely advice, tips, and things they should know before joining the legal fraternity in Fiji, Vanuatu and the region.

Having practised law for several decades, Dr Maynard emphasised that as soon-to-be lawyers, “You have to master some essential skills, including punctuality and effectiveness. Your client(s) would go through a lot of expenses to engage your service, so you must be committed, invested, and effective with your work”.

“Law as a profession is not just an ordinary job. Certain responsibilities come with being a lawyer. As you work towards completing your PDLP programme, know that you will be engaged in becoming problem solvers and solving people’s problems. You need to navigate your problems before you can solve others’. Be very conscious of that and be focused.”

The arbitrator and mediator engaged in the training of the next generation of lawyers, as Head of the Law Department of the University of The Bahamas, also stressed the importance of being “on time. My mother used to say it’s better to be early than to be late, and in our profession, being late is a serious issue, and you must be well prepared all the time”.

He also acknowledged the accomplishments of USP students and Vanuatu’s leadership in obtaining an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice that will boost the region’s fight for climate justice.

“They have the support of countries across the Commonwealth, including the Caribbean, where we have very similar circumstances of island disappearing. We’re not responsible for excessive gas emissions but face harsh climate crisis impacts.”

Excited to participate in the public lecture and meet Dr Maynard, Hannah Tamani, a member of the PDLP cohort of 48, expressed her excitement to speak and learn from someone who has been in the practice of law for over 35 years and has worked with many international organizations.

Hannah, 23, said, “I appreciated that Dr Maynard had taken time out of his busy schedule to discuss with the class the rule of law, the principles of good governance, and the difference between the rule of law and rule by law. Touching on the principles of good governance was a great reminder of the importance the rule of law plays in ensuring government is held accountable.”

“Dr Maynard’s visit came at a perfect time given that we are on our sixth week of PDLP and his words of encouragement have reminded us to look forward to the work that we will be doing, but to also bear in mind the expectations that come with this profession.”

“Having someone like Dr Maynard, who comes from humble beginnings with vast legal experience and has done work with different international organisations is inspiring, and it motivates us to dream big that we too can someday reach that level, effect change, and make a difference.”

Fiji Law Society President Wylie Clarke, who was also present at the public lecture, acknowledged Dr Maynard’s commitment to visiting Fiji and taking time to meet law students.

“To travel halfway around the world to come and see us and spend some time here is a magnificent gesture on his part that gives us courage and confidence that we should keep doing what we are trying to do to uphold the rule of law and human rights.”

Wylie added, “The biggest highlight of his visit was always going to be to the students. It was important for him and us to meet the USP law students, knowing they’re not just from here but from the region. It was very important for Dr Maynard to have a face-to-face opportunity to speak to students; we hope it was beneficial.”

The Fiji Law Society President highlighted that as law students, one must “Never forget that we owe our debt of gratitude to our communities, our families without whose support, none of us would be here. Somebody has sacrificed for us to be here in law school”.

In welcoming students who will start their legal journey with USP next week, Dr Maynard, Hannah, and Wylie shared the same sentiments, emphasising that “law is a very competitive field, and one must be present not just physically, but also emotionally, intellectually and spiritually.”

The current cohort has 16 more weeks to complete their Professional Diploma in Legal Practice from USP.

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