Dr. Chris Adomako Kwakye, Acting Dean of the Faculty of Law at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) has tasked Lawyers to place service of clients above their self-interest and commercial interest.
He said the best of the rules in teaching legal ethics, which assists students in engaging in what is right once they become lawyers is honesty, loyalty, fidelity, diligence and calmness in offering service to a client.
He was delivering a key note address on why ethics is important to law practice, at the induction ceremony of about 84 students into the KNUST School of Law in Kumasi recently.
He argued that lawyers are integral to the working of the law and the Rule of Law itself is founded on the principles of justice, fairness and equity.
As a result, if lawyers do not adhere to promotion of these ethical principles, the law will fall into disrepute, and people will resort to alternative means of resolving conflict, giving rise to public discontent.
Dr. Kwakye noted that lawyers are professionals and are aware that ethical responsibility and duty are an inherent part of the legal profession, which most valuable asset is its collective reputation and the confidence which inspires the legal profession.
He noted that ethical duties can be referred to as duties lawyers owe to the client and the court, the breach of which may ground an action for disciplinary proceedings before the General Legal Council, which may lead to one being suspended or debarred.
According to him, in acting for clients, lawyers must conduct themselves in tandem with the requirements of the law and avoid dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.
He said teaching ethics establishes the foundation for the vital decisions students must make, regarding how they will live as lawyers, which decisions he said will in turn shape how the public perceives lawyers and the legal system.
He emphasised that if lawyers flout ethical duties, it would gradually erode the confidence and respect accorded the profession, as Legal ethics are the most important, because a brilliant lawyer without character will bring the profession into disrepute.
He also advised the inductees to pay particular attention to Advocacy and Legal Ethics as they concentrate and master the other subjects, because without character one cannot survive in legal practice.
He indicated that after studying Advocacy and Legal Ethics, they must remember their duty to the profession, to the public, to their clients and to the court.
He also cautioned them to pay attention to the study of legal ethics, particularly espoused in the Legal Profession Act 1960, Act 32, the Legal Profession (Professional Conduct and Etiquette) Rules, 1969, (L.I. 613) as well as the Code of Ethics of the Ghana Bar Association.
He said the combined effect is first to train law students and make them useful agents of change in the legal profession.
His Lordship Justice Anin Yeboah, the Chief Justice reminded them that, though the profession may be the second one to some of them, it must not be taken lightly, with the mindset that being the second profession, it is going to be easy.
He noted that, the law profession is a very special area for which they need to study ethics, advocacy, civil procedure and others that would make them the best of lawyers.
Barima Yaw Kodie Oppong, Director of Legal Education and Director, Ghana School of Law also entreated them to comply with the ethics and requirements of the school, as the management are enhancing the Awards of Best students who performed exceptionally well.
He said legal education is needed to train lawyers to administer in court and other jurisdictions and asked them to do away with the perception that examination is dreadful, but believe in themselves that they can make it with positive mindset as no lecturer would intentionally fail anyone.
Mr. Kwame Owusu Sekyere, Ashanti Regional Chairman of Ghana Bar Association, tasked the inductees to take instructions very seriously, especially their attitudes in classroom.
He urged them to pass through the system successfully and become the lawyers they crave to become.