Ethics, Rules of Professional Conduct and Discipline of Lawyers In Nigeria: An Overview
Over the last decade in Nigeria, societal interest in the ethical aspect of the legal profession has been on the increase. The question of protection of the individual client, fellow professional lawyers, courts and the legal profession itself have become paramount. There has been lately, a significant increase in the frequency with which litigants have written petitions against lawyers and judges and in the case of lawyers, with a view to suing them. Professional misconduct tends to have profound effect upon the way in which law is practiced in Nigeria. It is in the execution of this responsibility that Chief Bayo Ojo – the then Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice/ Chairman, General Council of the Bar carried out in the year 2007 a comprehensive review of the Rules of Professional Conduct for legal Practitioners in Nigeria. This paper examines the Ethics, Rules of Professional Conduct and Discipline of Lawyers in Nigeria and concludes that the 2007 Rules have succeeded in embodying the ideal human conduct required of a legal practitioner. What remains is in trying toenforce the observance of these rules which had largely been curtailed by the “brother’s keeper syndrome” as much breaches of the rules of professional conduct are not reported to the appropriate authority. This has largely being the reason why there have very limited erring legal practitioners been punished for contravening the rules of professional conduct.