Do not go “cap in hand” for legal briefs, lawyers urge colleagues

Some Lagos-based lawyers have urged fellow legal practitioners to uphold the rules of professional conduct for lawyers by preserving the ethics and regulations of the bar.

The lawyers told The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the level of compliance with ethical standard of the legal profession was on the decline and called for possible redress.

Ethical code of conduct for lawyers is the laid down regulation for all legal practitioners which serve as a guiding principle in the dispensation of legal tasks in the country.

A Lagos based lawyer and social critic, Mr Emenike Nnoromlele, said that the level of compliance by lawyers with ethical rules and procedure had greatly diminished.

According to him, lawyers are first legal officers and administrators in the temple of justice before being representatives of their clients.

He noted that some lawyers carried on their duties carelessly and without caution, adding that this was unacceptable in legal practice.

“The rules of professional conduct for lawyers requires every legal practitioner to adhere strictly to the ethics of the legal profession.
“That ethics requires that you come early to court, dress in an acceptable legal style, and also not assume an undignified sitting posture in the courtroom.

“The rules also forbid a lawyer from chasing briefs in court, or soliciting for representation from clients or what is popularly known as “charge and bail”.

“Some of these ethics have not been fully complied with by some lawyers who still come to court with dirty white vest and even worn out wigs, while others still chase briefs,” he said.

Nnoromlele, therefore, urged lawyers to be true ambassadors of the judiciary and shun all unethical conducts.

On his part, a constitutional lawyer, Mr Mike Dugeri, condemned shabby clothing by legal practitioners, adding that it demeaned the legal profession.

According to him, although some lawyers wear worn out robes due to financial difficulties, but some of them even go the extent of hiring robes to make representation in court.

“Poverty may cause a lawyer to wear worn out robes and it may also be that the robe have been subjected to “undertakings” which now makes it impracticable for change.

“Another factor that can cause indecent dressing by a lawyer is the disease of the mind; some individuals, including lawyers, could suffer from a poor state of health, and this can correspondingly cause poor appearance,” he said.

Dugeri urged judges to sanction lawyers who were found guilty of flouting ethical rules and conduct as a form of deterrence to others.

Another Lagos-based lawyer, Mrs Ebere Obiora, condemned the practice of lawyers who solicit for briefs from clients with the aid of some police prosecutors.

According to her, there is no harm in making representation of accused persons but the practice of “partnership” with police officers to secure briefs, is unethical.

“Actually, I do not see anything wrong with a lawyer securing bail for an accused person because even senior advocates also undertake such briefs.

“However, what appear unsavoury to the eyes is the practice of some lawyers who make the court their offices and establish “unholy alliance” with the police for them to be called upon to take up briefs when there are arraignment,” he said.

Obiora said some lawyers “team up” with the police to flout the rules of professional conduct by technically soliciting for jobs.

She condemned such practice, adding that it was also a breach of the rule against partnership and sharing legal fees with non lawyers.(NAN)