Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State has charged lawyers in the state to uphold their ethical standard and always play according to the rule of law to promote and foster cause of justice and professional standard.
Governor Obiano made the charge at the weekend during the conclusion of the 2018 bar week of Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) Onitsha branch.
He urged the lawyers to uphold and maintain a high standard of professional conduct and should not engage in any conduct which is unbecoming of a legal practitioners.
The governor, who was represented by the Attorney General of the state and Commissioner for Justice, Dr. Uju Nwogu, commended the bar for the timely week at a time Nigeria was about to conduct general election which also would follow legal battle by the aggrieved politicians and urged the lawyers to showcase and apply their professional skills in discharging their duties.
He said that the lecture topics were carefully selected such as “Professional Ethics and discipline of lawyers”.
“The topics chosen for the bar week are quite apt. We have not come to terms with the reformation of legal practice to meet global best practices.
“Let the synergy between the State Executive and Judiciary continue. I also thank the Chief Judge, Hon Justice Peter Umeadi for the various reforms in the Judiciary”
In his key note paper presentation titled ‘Professional Ethics and Discipline of lawyers,’ Mr. Chike Onyemenam SAN outlined the need for lawyers to abide by the guidelines that govern the legal profession in order to avoid facing sanctions.
Onyemenam attributed the drop in ethical standards to the economic crunch in Nigeria leading to inability of government and private sector to employ young lawyers resulting in hardship.
“Unemployment in Nigeria, inability to make ends meet, together with lack of tutelage opportunities for young lawyers are in my opinion, the direct causes of the drop in ethical standards in legal profession.
“The Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC) 2007 has 56 rules with the following subheads: Rules relating to practice as a legal practitioner; Relationship with clients; Relationship with other lawyers; Relationship with the Court; Relating to improper attraction of business; Remuneration & fees and Miscellaneous Rules”.
Onyemenam said the rules encompasses the conduct of the practitioner both in and outside of the bar adding that every young lawyer should undergo tutelage in any serious law firm for a minimum of two years.
“The RPC addresses issues like insolence, disrespect to court, improper dressing, and exchanging words with counsel representing opposing party, deliberately obstructing amicable out of court settlement of pending case or dispute.
“Moreover, concerning a petition against a lawyer if proven by the panel appointed by NBA could lead to suspension or a directive to strike off the lawyer’s name from the roll of legal practitioners,” said Onyemenam.
In their separate speeches, the trio of Ozo Ben Erinne, Mr. Peter Afuba and Mr. Onyechi S. Ononye, the Chairman NBA Onitsha branch, Chairman and alternate chairman for NBA Onitsha branch law week committee respectively commended the participants for gracing the occasion.
They maintained that there was need for lawyers on the job continuous training through seminars, workshops and research works. Those they said would enhance speedy justice delivery in these modern times.
They, however, called on government, members of the bar and branch to embrace reforms in legal practice to meet modern trends.
Highlights of the Bar-week include Novelty football match between Premier bar and Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) Onitsha, Bar Dinner/Award Night, Visitation of incapacitated lawyers, Thanksgiving service at Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity, Onitsha.