The ethical Lawyer is not a liar, and in fact the Lawyer is under Professional Oath not to lie in any circumstance of his representation of a cause. However, the Law and its practice constitute very complex phenomena exposing the practitioner to public misconceptions in apparent reference to the complexities”.
These formed the fulcrum of the 27th Inaugural Lecture of Abia State University, by a former Dean, Faculty of Law and the first indigenous Professor of Law of the University, *Professor Sampson Ihesieme Erugo* on the topic: *THE LAWYER OR LIAR? THE MYTHS AND REALITIES OF A MISJUDGED PROFESSION”*.
According to him, public opinion about the Lawyer and Legal process is varied but usually twisted and subversively condemning from all the strata of society. “Of course, it is a popular saying that the Lawyer is a liar: one who sees white and says it is black”.
Professor Erugo further disclosed that the “puzzling, perplexing or mystefying nature of the Law profession can easily be summed up into two strands: The misconceptions and misjudgement of Lawyering which manifests in certain myths of the profession vis-a-vis codes of professional conduct, and secondly, the growing incidence of Lawyers abuse of professional standing, which helps to compound the public misconceptions and misjudgement. This Lawyer or liar finds expression more in ethics and professional conduct with a history almost as old as Lawyering itself”.
The erudite Lawyer opined *that the craze of Lawyers to seek protection from the hazards of the profession is easily seen in the number of Lawyers who are Pastors in Churches today, despite the general impression of Lawyers as liars and sinners. What a paradox.* “The Churches have outwitted and outsmarted the secret societies and cults of old, real or imagined by preaching superior power and exposing the misconceptions”. He advised young and potential Lawyers that they do not need any cult, society or special powers to be a Lawyer. “The venerated Bar suffices as a Sect”.
The Lecturer disclosed that from the perspectives of knowledge, skill and ethics essentially, the role of a Lawyer in any society can not be over emphasized. The Lawyer performs both social and professional roles, as the protector of the persecuted.
On the history of Lawyering and practice regulation, Professor Erugo disclosed that it dates back to the period before Christ in Ancient Rome. However, formal Legal training was introduced in Nigeria in 1962 with the enactment of the Legal Education Act, 1962.
He identified two popular and commonly adopted Schools of Law- the Naturalist and Positivist Schools. The codes of Lawyering find impectus from both Schools of thought.
Professor Erugo identified some misconceptions and misjudgements by some Lawyers and the Society to include:
🔸 Imaginary fear of hazards of the profession by young Lawyers as compounded by early misconceptions
🔸 Occasional failure of the Judicial system to do ideal Justice as the public would want to see
🔸 Allegations of compromise by practitioners of the Judicial system
🔸 Refusal of certain Lawyers to engage in criminal practice Law due to Religious and Moral persuations etc.
He identified professional duties of the Lawyer to include:
🔸 Duties to the Client
🔸 Duties to the Court
🔸 Duties to the Society.
The vastly published, widely travelled and functional Academic who have contributed enormously to Legal Education in Nigeria and beyond, made the following recommendations:
🔸 That Ethics and Professional Responsibility be introduced as a compulsory course in all Facilities of Law in Nigeria.
🔸 That Practical and experiential teaching of the course should also be made mandatory.
🔸 That Attendance of an Annual mandatory continuing Legal Education in Ethics and Professional Responsibility should be a prerequisite for renewal of license of all practicing Lawyers in Nigeria.
🔸 That Legal system and methods should be made compulsory courses for all Law undergraduates in Universities in Nigeria.
🔸 That Street Law/Community Legal Education should be made a compulsory project for all Law Students in Nigeria.
The Lecturer appreciated the Vice-Chancellor, *Distinguished Professor E. Uche Ikonne*, whom he described as a man of candour, great intellect and scholarship.
Thereafter, he formally presented a copy of the Inaugural Lecture to him.
The Vice-Chancellor commended him for the Scholarly presentation and formally welcomed him into the *”College of Distinguished Professors”.*