By Nelson Manneh
Sixty-one students were yesterday the 27th of November 2019, called to the bar.
Out of the sixty-one (61) students, forty (40) are Gambians while twenty-one (21) are foreign students, 20 from Ghana and one from Cameroon.
The colourful ceremony was attended by the Chief Justice, the Attorney General, members of the bar and bench, relatives of the graduating students and the public at large.
Chief Justice Hassan B. Jallow, who is Chairperson of the General Legal Council, told the graduands that they have finished an important stage in their legal carrier but they are not yet lawyers, they have finished their second stage and they will be going through their pupilage stage before they will be finally enrolled as legal practitioners.
The Attorney General for his part told the graduands that as they finished their education, this is just the beginning of the profession; the profession demands constant learning, and practices are key in the profession.
The two speakers focused on the ethics of the profession. The Chief Justice said that it takes more than the knowledge of a lawyer to become a lawyer; it takes reasonable knowledge of the law, a whole lot of good characters and good conduct for one to become a lawyer and that is what is expected of them as lawyers.
Abubacarr M. Tambadou, Attorney General and Minister of Justice and the Vice-Chairperson of the General Legal Council also focused on the maintenance of high standard of the profession.
While acknowledging that the graduands will have the privilege to wear the gowns and wig which is a symbol of honour and respect, he noted that high standard must be maintained.
“The privileges come with responsibilities, as lawyers you must understand that you are bound by rules and regulations that have been set to maintain the high standard of the profession,” he said.
He stressed that as lawyers, they must be professional at all times and in their undertakings.
“Professionalism means you are ethical, diligent, competent and above all [are] integrity and honesty,” he said.
The Attorney General said the students must do everything possible to maintain their good character and they must demonstrate honesty in all their dealings with their clients and companies and let them not take any advantage against the poor, the least privileged and their clients.
He admitted that some lawyers are not professionals, but that they will have to pay for their wrong doings.
“History has shown that not all lawyers will act honestly in their dealings; some notorious ones will act greedily and abuse their positions. You should, however, bear in mind that there is a high price to pay if these acts are reported and disciplinary action will be taken against you by the general legal council. This could lead to de-banning and for the general interest of the public you will be expelled from the profession,” he noted.
The Vice-Chairperson of the General Legal Council said the graduands should know that there are ethical implications in becoming lawyers, and that they should all take a very rigid stand when it comes to issues of professionalism.
He said it is only by upholding the core values of their profession that they will be able to maintain public confidence in the administration of justice in the legal system.
He advised the students that while this profession can guarantee them a wealthy living “money-making should not be your first consideration.”
The Minister of Justice said the attitudes of every good lawyer are hard work and defence for justice and that success as a lawyer can only come through hard work.
“As you join the profession, I will encourage you to constantly continue to upgrade your status and other competencies. Be very respectful to the rules of the Bar and the people in general. Always demonstrate politeness to your colleagues and respect your seniors and be ready to learn from them for there is wisdom in those old gowns,” he noted.
Abibatou Jarra the outstanding student said the academic journey was rough but they were able to overcome the challenges in the Bar school.
“At the Bar, it was not easy but I put in much effort in order to achieve what I achieved today, as they were required to learn a lot within a short period and the pressure was almost unbearable,” she said.
She said the lecturers who took them through the process did not only serve as teachers but they also served as mentors.
“In the law school, we have classes from Monday to Saturday which is very hectic, we only have the night to be ready in order to achieve our goals,” she said.
Jarra said they should not compete, but work as a team and be ready to assist each other.