ADMINISTRATION OF THE LEGAL AID CENTER
At its inception, the legal aid Center was administered by a five-member Steering Committee. This committee had the responsibility of ensuring that the programme ran smoothly. At the time, it prepared a roster of Legal Aid Officers (LAOs) on duty each week. It also evaluated the programme from time to time with the view to improving the services being rendered to the target group. The Committee was constantly on the look out for problem areas and attempted to resolve them before they became intractable.
The initial cost of establishing the programme was borne by FIDA Ghana. Subsequently, a separate legal aid account was opened with funds raised for that purpose. Into this account, all donations were paid for running the programme.
At the time, basic secretarial services were provided by a clerk assigned to the programme by the National Service Secretariat. The National Service Secretariat also assigned one (1) or two (2) newly qualified lawyers for a period of one (1) year. These young lawyers helped with the initial screening and interviewing of clients. They also helped maintain the records of the Center and the annual compilation of the records for the report of the Steering Committee.
A minimum of 3 FIDA Ghana members work as LAOs each week during the opening hours, 3:00p.m. to 6:00p.m. on Wednesdays. Each Legal Aid Officer provided counseling as well as advice and court representations and any other service required by the client.
Subsequently, an administrator was appointed to see to the operations of the Legal Aid Center. In 1999, the organization was given a new strategic orientation when a ten year strategic plan was put in place. Currently the organization has experienced appreciable growth though there is more room for improvement.
FIDA-Ghana has currently in its employ a total of sixteen workers. The executive director has oversight of the Accra, Kumasi Offices as well as the paralegal centres in the Eastern Region and Northern region. She has overall responsibility to ensure that the organizations objectives are translated into specific programmes and projects within the policy guidelines set by the Executive Board and in accordance with the constitution of the organization.
There is a program officer responsible for the Legal aid program and the day to day operations of the legal aid centres. She ensures that volunteer Lawyers are available to provide services to clients. Two female lawyers and a paralegal officer, man the offices in Kumasi as well as the paralegal centres in Tamale and Koforidua respectively. Their function is to manage the regional centres and implement programs and projects as outlined by the organization. The function of the administrator/media and communications officer is to plan and design communication strategies that will enhance the image of the organization.
There is an accountant to ensure prudent management of funds, whilst the remaining are support staff. The volunteer Lawyers and trained community paralegals who, are indeed the back bone of the programme, offer probono services to clients.