The acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Samuel Nkanu Walter Onnoghen, advised new lawyers to perform their roles as legal practitioners with integrity and competence.
The Acting CJN gave this advice during the Call to Bar Ceremony on 29th November, 2016 at the Bwari Campus of the Nigerian Law School Abuja.
The Nigerian Law School this year had about 24 students graduating with first class from its August/September 2016 Bar final examinations results. The highest since the school was established.
Justice Onnoghen told the new wigs who have just completed their Bar final exams from the various campuses of the Nigerian Law School to put into consideration the interest of their clients and the larger society while carrying out their judicial duties.
He warned the new wigs that the Body of Benchers would not hesitate to throw out any erring lawyer from the legal profession.
While reminding the new wigs of the rules of professional conduct, Justice Onnoghen urged them to shun any act that would bring the profession into disrepute.
He said: “As ministers in the temple of justice, it is never enough to solely protect the interest of your client. You must strive to attain justice above all and not derail its course even if it may not favour your client and avoid ‘sharp practices.’
“The role of lawyers are multi-faceted; it cuts across virtually every strata of the society. In all this, you are expected to maintain the highest profession standard of integrity and competence at all times. This should be your watch word.”
He further charged the new lawyers on professional development so as to keep themselves abreast of latest legal developments in the country and across the globe.
“Read widely and continue to update your knowledge of the law in Nigeria and other comparable jurisdictions and also imbibe good understanding of the cultural and social setting which you practice because the law is a living phenomenon,” Justice Onnoghen said.
Earlier, the Director-General of the Nigerian Law School, Mr. Olanrewaju Onadeko (SAN), while presenting the new wigs to the Body of Benchers, deplored what he termed the “continuing challenge of violation of admission quotas” by some universities.
Onadeko noted that the allocated figures to faculties of law were a product of empirical evaluation of available resources that could cater for the academic needs of law students.
While presenting a total of 4,225 candidates for the call-to-bar, Onadeko called for the mandatory period of pupilage for young lawyers.
“The current absence of any form of structured pupilage for new entrants into the legal profession, has been cause for concern. As things are, a new wig may on enrollment set up his practice and function as a full-fledged legal practitioner. The reality, however, is that the new wig requires additional and invaluable work experience, under the supervision of a senior colleague.
“The basis of the insistence on good character for eligibility for admission to the legal profession, is to shield it from those with propensity to act at variance with the interest of their clients, the profession itself and the justice system,” he explained.
Giving a breakdown of the performance of the candidates in the examinations, Onadeko disclosed that “of their numbers, 24 candidates attained the First Class grade, while 567 candidates obtained the Second Class Upper Division,” adding that the number of first class candidates that were presented was the largest since the inception of the Nigerian Law School.
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