Professionalizing the Legal Profession in a Developing Economy: Ethics, Accountability and Discipline at the Bar
Keywords:Professional Ethics and Accountability, the Bar, Discipline, Development of the Legal Profession, Nigeria
Every profession has its Code of Conduct and Professional Ethics, written or unwritten, for the control, accountability, and management of the conduct of its members. The legal profession, one of the oldest in the world, is not an exception. The publication of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners in 2007 provides a single document containing the “dos” and “don’ts” of members of the Nigerian Bar. This article evaluates the Legal Profession in a Developing Economy: Ethics, Accountability and Discipline at the Bar. The study found that the role of lawyers in a developing economy, spanning the political, economic as well as social life of the nation. The paper further found that due to the pivotal role of members of the Bar in society, any lawyer who is found wanting in the performance of his/her duties stands the risk of being sanctioned. This analysis shows that discipline procedure is only permitted at the instant of a petitioner, and is limited only to litigation practitioners, leaving out to a large extent the corporate legal practitioners and lawyers in politics. The authors suggest that measurement should be put in place for regulations and discipline of corporate legal practitioners and lawyers in the political arena. The article concludes that there is a need for the members of the Bar to conduct themselves above board; after all, the pivotal role of the legal profession in the National Development of Nigeria cannot be overestimated.