Every year, the number of lawyers produced by the Council of Legal Education is almost more than a thousand yet; the country does not enjoy the social engineering reforms expected from lawyers considering such large numbers of the legal and professional minds! Upon the call to bar and the consequent enrollment of such person as a lawyer, everyone in the society that knows him would always hail him ‘Barrister!’ or ‘my barrister!’ or ‘the law!’, among other words to show the fulfillment in such lawyer. Then, such a lawyer begins the search for his glory and majorly, would find himself in either private or public practice under a principal or superior. While it is the situation with almost every lawyer, if care is not taken, such lawyer is bound to learn either good or bad ethics from his principal or superior, the learning which forms part of his future practice. This paper is encouraging such young lawyer to avoid learning unethical conducts from his seniors in office or his principal or superior when he establishes his own law practice and should endeavor to discourage other young lawyers that would end up learning under his supervision from such bad conducts by ensuring that they learn only good practice as advocate for justice and societal engineering reforms.
First and foremost, when it comes to upholding the ethical conducts by lawyers, the provisions of Rule 1 of the Rules of Professional Conducts for Legal Practitioners, 2007-herein after referred to as the RPC- is a leading code for lawyers which provides thus ‘A lawyer shall uphold and observe the rule of law, promote and foster the cause of justice, maintain a high standard of professional conduct, and shall not engage in any conduct which is unbecoming of a legal practitioner’. (Underlining is mine for emphasis). Therefore, it is important that this provision leads a lawyer as a code of his practice. The fact that a lawyer is compelled to do that which is unethical would largely not avail him as he is individually responsible for his inaction or breach of such RPC.
Furthermore, it is my humble advice to young lawyers that unethical and corrupt conducts are not worthy of learning from seniors in the legal practice. Also, those seniors who cut their ways by corrupt practices do not do so because they are lawyers but because they have such a tendency in their personality. Also, parents, young lawyers themselves must select in which law office or under which senior that they intend to allow their children or themselves to learn from. They should not be pushed to learning from a corrupt senior rather they must take their patients to search a righteous senior lawyer to learn from, even if he pays little or nothing in emoluments, it is just temporarily for them but it is still the best than working under a senior or principal who pays highly with blood money or money earned from corrupt practices, with due respect! More so, if they attach themselves to a corrupt or bad senior, they themselves are not safe! You would know if your principal or superior is good or bad when you stay with him in office or go out with him or when he instructs you then you can justify finding your way out of his office.
Also, when you are sent by your principal or superior in office to bribe and corrupt court’s officials or judicial officer, then, you know that you are learning bad teachings from him, then, you need not be told whether you should resign or flee for your life and from moral destruction or to remain in such corrupt environment even if your Principal or superior is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria! What is good is clear and what is bad has no other name than ‘bad’!
Furthermore, where your principal or superior would always pervert the cause of justice and be proud of his being smart, then, you know that his smartness is likely to be a hindrance to your own good morals as he is likely to corrupt you and build a bad and corrupt life in you! So, take to your heels from him, please! While there have been several complaints against some lawyers even by the Corporate Affairs Commission as to what some lawyers do which are very unimaginable, and even what some lawyers do to their clients by breaching those clients’ trusts in them, all these tell you about the facts that those lawyers cannot be your principal or superior! So, you need to really select carefully and patiently who you choose as your principal or superior!
Also, when your principal or superior is always in the habit of bullying his clients and to cheat them or defraud them of either their property or in any form, the attribute which you would know by virtue of your working with him or under his supervision or control, then, he is disqualified from being your principal or senior. You should know by now!.
Finally, I hope that this brief piece is able to pass some messages to you and that you would be able to benefit from the messages that this paper is conveying to you! Change, they say, begins with me and you! So, it is my piece of advice for you that you should endeavor to learn and become a good and righteous legal personality when you grow up and a role model for the young yet to grow!