Capacity building of lawyers

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An institutionalised programme of some sort, please!

 

The legal profession is considered one of the most respected and learned profession in the world. The administration of justice largely depends on the assistance provided by the lawyers to the courts. The development and stability of the state is closely linked with the legal and judicial system of a country. It is said that a society can sustain cruelty but cannot survive without justice. This indicates that a society cannot exist without an effective justice system. With this realisation, the government of Pakistan started reforming the legal and judicial system with the collaboration of the Asian Development Bank in 2002.The Bank’s Access to Justice programme contributed to building some court rooms and increasing the salary of judicial officers. However, capacity building for lawyers was not prioritised. The responsibility to regulate and improve the legal profession then turns to the professional bodies of lawyers (Pakistan Bar Council, Provincial Bar Councils) and law schools. The bar councils are legally mandated to regulate the lawyers. However, they tend to remain involved in politics rather than monitoring and improving the quality of the legal profession.

In the West, professional bodies of lawyers like the Law Society of England are largely focused on the provision of standard legal services to the citizens. The Law Society offers compulsory courses for the solicitors and regularly reviews its procedures ensuring the best quality legal services to the people

In the West, professional bodies of lawyers like the Law Society of England are largely focused on the provision of standard legal services to the citizens. The Law Society offers compulsory courses for the solicitors and regularly reviews its procedures ensuring the best quality legal services to the people. Citizens can find out about the credentials and the conduct of the lawyers registered with the society. The lawyers go through rigorous training from the law schools and bar councils. They are required even to insure their services so that the citizens may claim compensation if they suffer loss due to a lawyer’s negligence or professional misconduct. The Bar Councils conduct regular exams and renew the terms and conditions of their members. This keeps the lawyers updated on law and legal developments in the profession. The Bar Councils also collaborate with academia to bridge the gap between theory and practice. Litigating against the lawyers for professional negligence is a normal phenomenon and the Bar Councils even assist citizens in this regard.

In Pakistan, however, the lawyers are alleged to consider themselves above the law. In some local bars there are reports of an unwritten consensus that if a lawyer is involved in a civil or criminal case, no lawyer from the bar will represent the party opposing the lawyer. And, if a lawyer dares to represent that party, he is openly condemned in the bar for violating an ‘unwritten code of conduct’. In big cities like Lahore, a few lawyers try to pressurise the courts to get favourable decisions. Locking court rooms and even harassing judges is often reported in the newspapers. Sometimes ordinary people and officials are beaten in the court premises. Even junior lawyers are interrupted unreasonably by pressure groups and/or individuals during the court proceedings. Even in the Higher Courts a few try to influence the courts, violating the professional code of conduct.

In Pakistan, however, the lawyers are alleged to consider themselves above the law. In some local bars there are reports of an unwritten consensus that if a lawyer is involved in a civil or criminal case, no lawyer from the bar will represent the party opposing the lawyer

The judicial organ of the legal profession being aware of the situation seems to transform and reinvigorate its role for uplifting the legal profession in the country. The Punjab Judicial Academy has started offering regular training courses to the judicial officers. However, it is important to note that lawyers are kept from this opportunity for professional development (though their role is crucial for the administration of justice).

Without capacity building the lawyers and superior court judges, the training of the district judiciary would only be a partial success. Without proper assistance from lawyers, the courts can dispose of the cases but cannot deliver justice. It may also be noted that judges of the High Courts and the Supreme Court of Pakistan are mostly elevated from the lawyers. Thus, if we fail to provide adequate professional training to our young lawyers, that will affect the performance of the Superior Courts. As a result, the people may not get their basic rights protected and the rule of law would suffer. In this backdrop, the Bar Councils at various levels and the Judicial Academies of all provinces should collaborate to impart professional training to both lawyers and judges. Particularly, young lawyers should be trained in subjects like interviewing a client, preparing a fact sheet, writing a legal memorandum, writing a legal opinion, arguing in court, analysing case law, writing research articles and opinions, advising clients, and legal ethics. Finally, the Bar Councils should take disciplinary action against those who violate the rule of law in the name of protecting the law in Pakistan.

6 COMMENTS

  1. This is an epic article, I m appreciative I continued running over this. I ll be back again later on to look at particular posts that you have on your web journal.

  2. No doubt, our justice system is failing.To save the system, we need revolutionary steps as mentioned in the column. It was need of time to say something openly and bravely about the judicial system.Truly, we are lacking training almost on every level, especially the training of the lawyers.

  3. Its a real and positive approach about the prevailing judicial system in this country. The courts as well as lawyers are not feeling their responsabilities to ensure the dispensation of justice to the society.

  4. views are positive. But transforming these views into reality is not possible under the current system of bar councils in Pakistan.

  5. Its not only the duty of bar councils to trained the juniors and to teach the legal ethics to the newly entered persons in this profession but its also the bounden duty of seniors to transfer their experience and moral values to the new comers…

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