The Nigerian Law School (NLS) has graduated 1, 490 successful lawyers who were on Wednesday called to the Nigerian Bar. The Director General of the Nigerian Law School, Prof. Isa Chiroma (SAN), who disclosed this stated that while a total of 2,299 students participated in the May 2022 final exams, 1,490 candidates, representing 65.42%, were successful.
Chiroma stated that the Nigerian Law School, under his watch, has witnessed and expressed more positive transformations in the areas of academics, better administrative and physical infrastructural development.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Body of Benchers (BoB), Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), has stressed that the body does not interfare with the activities of the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC). This was a veil response to the demand by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) for Olanipekun to step aside following a petition involving a lawyer in his chambers before the LPDC.
The NBA, in the letter dated July 22, had expressed fear that Olanipekun being chairman of the BoB, may one way or another influence the process and outcome of the petition against the lawyer, who is being accused of gross professional misconduct. The BoB, by the provisions of Section 3(1) of the Legal Practitioners Act, is the highest body responsible for the regulation of lawyers as well as admittance of new wigs into the Nigerian Bar.
On the other hand, the LPDC carries out disciplinary functions involving any legal practitioner whose conduct amounts to infamous conduct in professional respect in violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct for legal practitioners in Nigeria.
Olanikpekun made the clarification at the swearing-in ceremony of the 1,490 new lawyers who emerged successful in the May 2022 Final Bar Examination of the Nigerian Law School. He noted that the LPDC, over the years, has continued to operate as an independent arbiter, enjoying absolute independence in the course of carrying out its assignment.
The Body of Benchers does not and will not interfere with any of the proceedings or outcome of such proceedings before the LPDC,” he said, adding that the decision of the LPDC is known as direction, and any appeal against the direction goes directly to the Supreme Court.
The BoB Chairman however pointed out that “the LPDC is not an avenue for dealing with perceived enemies or ventilation of grievances against fellow lawyers on personal issues. The senior lawyer did not hesitate to warn the new wigs against conduct that is capable of ridiculing the profession as the leadership will not hesitate to respond appropriately.
One of such conduct, which he warned against, is the act of “Forum Shopping”, whereby litigants and legal practitioners shop for “friendly venues and judexes” to file and litigate otherwise frivolous and questionable causes, purportedly arising out of the jurisdictions where the actions are eventually filed, pursued and prosecuted.
This ugly practice is permeating the entire Nigerian legal landscape, leading to the churning out, on regular basis, of conflicting orders and decisions of courts of coordinate jurisdictions. As a result of this as well, the legal profession is being brought to disrepute and opprobrium, leading to tirades, venoms and uncomplimentary remarks and sentences being passed on the legal profession and some of our judges.
Be informed that the Body of Benchers, by virtue of the powers conferred on it by Section 10 (1)(c) of the Legal Practitioners Act, has now set up a Regulations Committee, empowered to make regulations for the decent practice of law in Nigeria.
The committee has submitted a draft regulations to the Body of Benchers and the regulations, when approved, will become binding on all legal practitioners, who will be restricted to initiating and filing causes and matters where the said causes of action arise or as provided by the rules of the adjudicating courts.
“Just as it is provided under the Matrimonial Causes Rules, lawyers will be required to sign and file certain Forms and documents, indicating compliance with the regulations before filing any originating process at trial courts. Any infraction or breach of the regulations would amount to professional misconduct,” he said.