SAN advocates the deregulation of the Nigerian Law School, laments lack of ethics in legal practice

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[Interview]–A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Prof. Ernest Ojukwu, has advocated for the deregulation of the Nigerian Law School and also lament about the absence of ethics and the falling standards in the legal profession.

He made this call in an interview with The Guardian.

According to the professor, “In 2007 the National Committee for the reform of legal education set up by the government of President Obasanjo submitted a report calling for the deregulation of the Nigerian Law School. I was Secretary of the Committee.

“I am happy today that the call for deregulation has also been made by the NBA Legal Professional Reform Committee headed by Chief Tony Idigbe, SAN. The deregulation involves demarcating the authority and functions of the Council of Legal Education from the Nigerian Law School. Give full oversight functions to the Council of legal education to accredit and monitor Law faculties and Law Schools. Under the proposal, other law schools other than the Nigerian Law School funded by the Federal Government, could be registered and accredited to provide training for those wishing to be called to the bar side by side with the Nigerian Law School.

“Both the trainees who will go the Nigerian Law School and those who will chose other Law Schools would have their training under the same curriculum of the Council of Legal Education and take the same examination administered by the Council of Legal Education,” he explained.

“On the falling standard of legal education, he expressed his fear, “It is frighteningly getting lower and lower. We need to push our educators and teachers to state the goal for our legal education. A goal that focuses on the development of competent lawyers conscious of social justice and ethical values. If we get the goal right, that will lead to the adoption and deployment of training methodologies that uses the best practices for legal education. Our legal education must therefore at all levels integrate knowledge, skills, competencies and values.

“It must be outcome based and learner-centred different from the mostly traditional teacher-centred education still being practiced by a vast number of law teachers. Our legal education must be clinical combining liberal arts approach with vocational and experiential learning approach. All these are generally  lacking as at present. The Nigerian Bar Association must stand up and insist that the training of our law students must conform to these philosophies, goals and values.

“We would also need to create new and very strong Council of Legal Education that would act as a strong oversight body both for the training at the universities and at the Nigerian Law School. By now we should no more be talking about how to actualize a sustainable continuing legal education programme to compliment the foundational learning, development and growth of the legal professional in Nigeria,” he added.

On whether Nigeria’s legal system is ready for the emergence of technology, ADR and globalisation, he lamented, “It is challenging. Our response to technology and globalization has been very poor and this is traceable to the foundational problem of our legal education. Can you for example find one court in Nigeria that has successfully stopped its judges from recording court proceedings in long hand in 2017?”.

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