The Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC) has sanctioned 11 lawyers in Nigeria for various acts of professional misconduct in 2021, the chair of the Nigerian Body of Benchers, Olabode Rhodes-Vivour, has said.
The Body of Benchers is the Nigerian Body concerned with the admission of prospective students into the Nigerian Law School, regulates the call of graduates of the school to the Nigerian bar, and generally regulates the legal profession in the country.
Mr Rhodes-Vivour gave the update on the number of lawyers that have been sanctioned for misconduct at the call-to-bar ceremony of the Nigerian Law School at the Eagle Square in Abuja ion Tuesday.
Giving a breakdown of the forms of sanctions that were slammed on the erring lawyers, Mr Rodes-Vivour said, “From January to July 2021, five lawyers were disbarred, six lawyers were suspended (ranging from two years to four years and one lawyer was admonished.
As the 884 new lawyers took their oath without the usual handshakes with the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) due to the COVID-19 safety guidelines, they were also advised to shun act that could put them on a collision course with the disciplinary body and the Nigerian constitution.
Mr Rhodes-Vivour, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, “As a lawyer, you are an officer of the court. You are not to do any act or conduct yourself in a manner that will obstruct or adversely affect the course of justice.”
He therefore advised the new wigs “to be of good behaviour and abide by the ethics and tradition of the profession to avoid being brought before the (disciplinary) committee,” he said.
He also admonished them to “actively participate in the affairs of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA),” which is the umbrella body for legal practitioners in Nigeria
“The practice of law is not a right, but a privilege,” he said adding, “It is a privilege that can be lost should you fail to live up to the requisite professional standards imposed upon you by virtue of your entry into the community of lawyers.”
He further sensitised them on their obligations to their clients.
“You are expected to represent or defend your client when called upon. You are to remain committed to the best interest of your client. This must however be within the purview of the law,” Mr Rodes-Vivour said.
The lawyers were told to undergo mentoring as a way of acquiring necessary legal skills for a successful career.
Adequate safeguards for law school campuses
In his remarks, Isa Chiroma, the director general of the Nigerian Law School, said adequate safeguards had been put in place on all campuses of the school.
Mr Chiroma, a law professor, said the school under his watch had witnessed “more positive transformations in the areas of academics” other developmental indices.
“By providing and creating better learning and conducive environment for students and staff, our performance at the Bar final examinations effective 2018 have (sic) greatly improved,” Mr Chiroma said.
He revealed that the law school had on June 28, 2021, commenced a “special remedial course” for law graduates of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN).
In his presentation of the 2020 Bar Final Examinations results, Mr Chiroma said the total number of students who participated stood at 1561, while the number of successful candidates was 880.
However, the school’s recently released results for the 2021 bar examinations, showed a 22 per cent failure.
A total of 1,325 students failed the examinations.
According to the Council of Legal Education, a total of 5,770 candidates sat the examination.
The statistics showed that 20 students (0.007 per cent) bagged first class, 432 (7.49 per cent) bagged second class (upper division), 2,172 (37.64 per cent) bagged second class (lower division) and 1,725 (29.90 per cent) scored a pass.
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