From Tony John, Port Harcourt
Legal luminaries have stressed the need for lawyers to strive for excellence in the profession, considering the prevailing negative perception of the public about them.
The Chief Judge of Bayelsa State, Justice Kate Abiri, was among a handful of legal professionals at a special event organised by the Nembe-Se Lawyers Forum, and hosted by Serenity Legal Union & Partners in Port-Harcourt, Rivers State, on Monday.
Justice Abiri noted that the respect and reverence the public have for the law profession is gradually being eroded due to doubts about the capacity of the present crop of lawyers.
She described the Nembe-Se Lawyers Forum as apt, saying that it is not intended to weaken the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), but to strengthen the bar for the overall benefit of all.
Also speaking at the event, the President of Bayelsa State Customary Court of Appeal, Justice Daniel Ayah, noting that the Nembe-Se Lawyers Forum will contribute to the development of society, admonished lawyers to collaborate with other professional bodies to achieve desired objectives.
Speaking on the theme “Law Practice Building in Contemporary Times”, the Principal Partner, George Etomi and Partners, Mr. George Etomi, spoke on changes in law practices, modern trends and the impact on young lawyers, the future of legal practice and globalisation of legal practice.
He stressed the need for lawyers to always be abreast with the concept of globalisation which, he observed, is the biggest concept of law practice.
The founding Partner, Primera Africa Legal, and former President of the Commonwealth Lawyers Association, Mrs Boma Alabi, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), noted the challenges faced by young lawyers, urging them to remain committed, strive for excellence and develop their skills in order to excel in the profession.
The Dean, Faculty of Law, Niger Delta University, Professor Damfebo. K Derri, blamed current problems in the legal profession on the surge in the number of legal practitioners.
He urged young lawyers to embrace modern technology by establishing their presence online.
In his goodwill message, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of Bayelsa State, Biriyai Dambo, SAN, noted that for young lawyers to succeed, they must leave their comfort zones and ensure their integrity is not tainted.
Earlier in his welcome remarks, the Chief Executive Partner at Serenity Legal Union and Partners and Paramount Ruler of Spiff Town, Twon Brass, David Serena-Dokubo, urged lawyers to lead in the advocacy for people, to tread the path of peace and to engender development.
The Interim Chairman, Nembe-Se Lawyers Forum Special (NSLF), Dr Ayebaesin Jacob Beredugo, said the core priorities of the association pertain to matters of justice, the rule of law and fundamental human rights, including the rights of indigenous peoples to their God-given resources, self-determination and development.
‘As guardians of the justice and the rule of law, we have collectively decided to leap into playing the public interest role, and to hold governments at all levels, as well as businesses operating in the Niger Delta, and in our communities, accountable to their legal and moral responsibilities to wellbeing of our people and our natural environment.
‘There will be no compromise on these hallowed principles, neither will we be afraid from stepping in and stepping up to the challenges that we may face along the way.
‘But this we promise: no matter the extent, depth and height of injustice and impunity perpetrated against our people or interests, we will never depart from the path of sanity and the rule of law as our battle swords and shields. For us, this is the new way to go in the battle for equity and justice in the Niger Delta region,’ he said.
Beredugo suggested that in an era of rapid change, lawyers must constantly endeavour to keep abreast with modern trends in practice building and adapt to cope with the challenges thrown up by these changes, including the role of information and communication technology, and their impact on legal practice in both physical and virtual worlds.
He explained that the session was organised to enhance the capacity and readiness of lawyers in the light of the fast unfolding changes, challenges and opportunities in the local, national and global legal markets; many of which have profound significance for the socio-economic development of Nigeria, and in particular, the Niger Delta region.
According to him, other objectives of the session was to promote innovative ways of using law as a preferred means for satisfactorily resolving commercial disputes, thereby fostering a peaceful and conducive socio-legal environment for businesses to thrive in the Niger Delta region.