One thousand and ninety-seven (1,097) individuals have been enrolled as new lawyers, the highest number at a go since the country started training legal practitioners in 1958, with the first enrolment occurring in 1963 with nine lawyers.
At the 60th ‘Call to the Bar’ ceremony yesterday, some notable personalities who were part of the 1,097 new lawyers, were the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, and the Director-General of National Lotteries Authority (NLA), Samuel Awuku.
Two persons with disability — one visually impaired and the other hearing impaired — were also part of the newly qualified lawyers.
Dignitaries, who graced the historic occasion, included President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the Chief Justice, Justice Gertrude Sackey Torkornoo; the Attorney-General, Godfred Yeboah Dame; the President of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA), Yaw Acheampong Boafo, and the Director of Legal Education and the Ghana School of Law (GSL), Barima Nana Yaw Kodie Oppong.
Ebenezer Addai Osei was adjudged the overall best student in the two-year Professional Law Course at the GSL, walking away with the John Mensah Sarbah Memorial Prize, which comes with a cash prize of GH¢50,000, a laptop with a soft copy of the Law Reports, and a full scholarship for a Master’s Degree in Law.
Rule of law & justice
In her speech before officially ushering the new lawyers into the legal profession, the Chief Justice said a lawyer had a professional duty to uphold the rule of law and justice at all times and in all their endeavours.
She said without rule of law, there would be total anarchy in society, and, therefore, lawyers, as masters of the law, must ensure that the law took precedence, irrespective of status and class.
“Rule of law provides a level playing field for every citizen, and an objective measuring line and standard for determining whether actions, whether by the rich, poor, strong or weak pass the muster of justice and equity,” she said.
With regard to justice, Justice Torkornoo said lawyers must not see justice as a concept, but a practical reality which formed an integral part of any thriving society.
She said lawyers must, therefore, become the means or conduit through which justice was achieved for the betterment of mankind.
“The legal profession is expected to be the bulwark against social chaos. The presence of the legal profession ought to provide the guarantee that every citizen, no matter their circumstances, will be protected in whatever enterprise and lawful activity they embark on,” she said.
The Chief Justice further said lawyers must see themselves as agents of progress whose activities went to the very core of nation building and prosperity.
“The legal profession must be made up of persons who have not just studied the letter of the law, but have imbibed the spirit behind legal order and have shown the presence of a moral compass that is able to not only direct themselves but able to help direct the nation in its quest for justice, coherence, harmony, progress and peace,” she said.
The Chief Justice noted that a lawyer with all the skills and knowledge would not be regarded, if he lacked integrity.
She, therefore, urged the newly qualified lawyers to eschew all sorts of vices, and to maintain the highest ethical standards and integrity in their professional and private life.
“In stepping into the legal profession today, the manner in which you conduct the different aspects of your professional and private life will not depend on your personally perceived appreciation of proper conduct, but the objective indices set in the Legal Profession Act, 1960 (Act 32) and the Legal Profession (Professional Conduct and Etiquette Rules), 2020 (L.I. 2423),” she said.
She added that a lawyer’s reputation was their trump card, and, therefore, any act that tarnished the reputation could spell doom for such a lawyer and further erode the confidence in the legal profession.
“The way you speak, the way you listen, the way you handle information, the way you handle relationship and the work entrusted to you will determine the legacy you carry along in every space you occupy, however short or long a time,” she said.
In an interview with the media, the foreign minister said she had considered the idea of becoming a lawyer for over 35 years, and had always been motivated to be a lawyer.
“I have always wanted to be a lawyer, but somehow my path went different ways. I did marketing, communication, MBA and all that, but finally, I came to my first love, which is the law,” she said. – Graphic online