A Professor of Law at the School of Law, University of Ghana, Legon, Prof. Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu, has called on legal practitioners to exhibit the values of integrity and honour in the discharge of their duties.
She bemoaned the growing practice of lawyers filing writs and cleverly leaking the statements of claim extensively to the public, saying such a practice was a challenge to the principle of integrity and amounted to a breach of trust.
“These actions undermine public confidence in the law and its processes when the real result of the court suit differs from what the public was led to believe about the merits of the case,” she said.
Prof. Mensa-Bonsu was speaking at the 2018 edition of the Legal Luminaries’ Platform, an annual lecture series organised by the Law Students Union of the University of Cape Coast (UCC) in Cape Coast last Friday.
The event, which was attended by Law students of the UCC Faculty of Law and students from various senior high schools (SHS), was on the theme: “Building a Society of Men and Women with Integrity: The Lawyer as a Workman”.
Prof. Mensa-Bonsu further urged lawyers not to put writs before court and then proceed to put them before public opinion for judgment, saying: “The exhibition of a full statement of claim shows lack of integrity on the part of the lawyer.”
“There is no honourable purpose for inviting the public to pass judgment on a one-sided appreciation of the merit of the case than to seek to obtain an unfair advantage over the other side by sowing a wrong impression in the public’s mind about the merits of the case to one’s own advantage,” she added.
She said legal practitioners must not betray public confidence, as the public counted on them, adding that they shouldn’t be the ones adopting clever ways of subverting the law, as it was detrimental to them and the profession as a whole.
Turning her attention to the Law students, Prof. Mensa-Bonsu underscored the need for them to imbibe the virtues of diligence and hard work.
She urged them to make it their habit to study and research and also cultivate the habit of ensuring the authenticity of information and patient proofreading.
“Laziness, procrastination and making excuses should have no place in your lives. Your mantra should be excellence, which will be achievable by constant diligence,” she said.
A private legal practitioner, Mr Ace Ankomah, for his part, admonished the student lawyers to be advocates of the law by speaking up when things went wrong.
He said as aspiring members of the legal profession, they owed it a duty to the country to fight every form of corruption wherever they found themselves and urged them not to be intimidated in any way.
“Don’t be afraid to speak up when things are going wrong; it is your duty as a privileged Ghanaian to do so,” he urged.
Mr Ankomah stressed the need for aspiring lawyers to build a solid reputation in the early stages of their career.
He said having a good reputation as a lawyer was the key to attracting clients, as it ensured public trust and assured legal consumers that they were in safe hands.
“Building a good reputation is not a one-day task for lawyers. You must be able to create a business you are proud of, while building a credible reputation,” he stressed.
A lecturer at the Faculty of Law of the University of Cape Coast, Mr Constantine Kudzedzi, admonished law students to always put into practice the virtues they had learnt.
He asked them not to wait until they were called to the Bar before exhibiting such virtues and emphasised that the virtues should be evident in them even as students.
The Provost of the College of Humanities and Legal Studies of the University of Cape Coast, Prof. Dora Edu-Buandoh, called on the students to find ways to impact positively on society, reminding them thus: “Remember, your studies are not for self-gain but the collective good of society.”