AN eminent jurist, Adama Diang is quoted, once to have said, “Lawyers do not merely have a professional responsibility, but also a very definite social and ethical duty to society and the individual. They must therefore be, and remain crusaders in the field of the rule of law and human rights”.
That being so, society should always be grateful to lawyers for their services and always look forward for justice, so far as lawyers are concerned. “But is that the case today,?” we dare ask.
No, the Times does not think so. Today, the public has little trust with the fairness of the judicial process, for which reason both the Bar and the Bench stand accused.
It is against this backdrop, that we think the Chief Justice, Mrs Georgina Wood, hit the nail right on the head, when she pointed out last Friday, that increasing numbers of deviant lawyers have besieged the legal system of the country.
Addressing newly-enrolled lawyers to the Ghana Bar Association at her court in Accra, the Chief Justice lamented, pathetically, that “the legal profession has been demonised, due to the conduct of some legal practitioners”.
“Common complaints against members of the profession is lack of civility in and out of the courtroom,” she pointed out and consequently cautioned the new lawyers that “lawyering is not a licence for arrogance and disrespect”.
“Adversarial litigation system practiced in our jurisdiction and other common law jurisdictions have led many unwise practitioners to think that obnoxious conduct is the work of the smart lawyer. But being passionate about defending your clients cannot remotely justify aggression or lack of civility,” she emphasised.
We cannot agree more with the Chief Justice and her assertion that, one of the key challenges facing the legal system, is how to make it work efficiently and effectively, to meet the legitimate and ever-growing justice needs of the people.
Indeed, we have followed with concern, the growing public complaints about the conduct of some lawyers, not only in court, but in their dealings with their clients.
We have received countless complaints from the public which have been reported to the General Legal Council.
And as if the Chief Justice knew, some of the complaints bordered on dishonesty, deceit and general misconduct by some lawyers.
The legal profession, as the Chief Justice pointed out, is a noble institution which demands diligence, honour and candour from the practitioners.
With deviant lawyers in the judicial system, the image of the profession is in danger, and must therefore be salvaged, with alacrity.
We, therefore, join the Chief Justice and urge all lawyers to be ethical and eschew greed and avarice among other turpitudes, which are causes of the challenges, facing the law profession in Ghana.
We hope all lawyers would lend the Chief Justice, their ears!