I heard the news that a very senior lawyer, Kunle kalejaiye (SAN) had his name struck off the roll for unprofessional conduct. As a lawyer, I feel for him because I can’t imagine putting in all that work and effort into building a career in the legal profession, getting to the height of the profession and the inner bar and losing everything in one swoop. Like a friend mentioned to me last night, it’s surely synonymous to death.
Mr Kalejaiye was disbarred by the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC) following an investigation into an allegation that Mr. Kalejaiye engaged in “confidential and private telephone conversations with the Chairman of an election petition tribunal, Justice Thomas Naron without the knowledge of other counsels in the matter.
I am writing this piece as an admonishment to other practising lawyers, most especially the young lawyers who are still cutting their teeth in this profession. I know a young lawyer’s pay is not so encouraging sometimes but that must not lead one to partake in unscrupulous and nefarious activities as a lawyer. A lawyer’s reputation is very important and must be guarded jealously. No point making a few bucks from a client and losing your license to practise or having to face disciplinary procedures. It is wise never to allow a client influence your principles, remember that you are a priest in the temple of justice.
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Allow me leave you with the provisions of the Legal Practitioners Act as it relates to penalties for unprofessional conduct. It states in Section 11(1) of the LPA that –
(1) Where –
(a) A person whose name is on the roll is judged by the Disciplinary Committee to be guilty of infamous conduct in an y professional respect; or
(b) A person whose name is on the roll is convicted, by any court in Nigeria having power to award imprisonment, of an offence (whether or not an offence punishable with imprisonment) which in the opinion of the Disciplinary Committee is incompatible with the status of a legal practitioner; or
(c) The Disciplinary Committee is satisfied that the name of any person has been fraudulently enrolled,
The Disciplinary Committee, may, it if thinks fit,give a direction –
i. Ordering the Registrar to strike that person’s name off the roll; or
ii. Suspending that person from practice by ordering him not to engage in practice as a legal practitioner for such period as may be specified in the direction; or
iii. Admonishing that person,
And any such direction may, where appropriate, include provision requiring the refund of monies paid or the handing over of documents or any other thing as the circumstances of the case will require.