Address by the Hon. Chief Justice Kamal Kumar at the Admission Ceremony of New Legal Practitioners (USP)
Honourable Justice Thushara Kumarage
Honourable Justice Gihan Kulatunga
Honourable Justice Siainiu Bull
Acting Chief Magistrate Ms Waleen George
Deputy Director, Professional Legal Training Programmes,
Ms Anuleshni Neelta
Representative of the Vice Chancellor, Dr. Rajni Chand
Administrative Assistant, School of Law, Ms Prem Shekhar
Counsel moving the Petitions
Newly admitted Legal Practitioners
Friends and Family of new Legal Practitioners
To: The Newly Admitted Legal Practitioners
It’s a pleasure to be the first to thank you and congratulate you for being sworn in as Lawyers. I extend a warm welcome to all the relatives and guests of the newly admitted Legal Practitioners who are present here today. I also extend congratulations to you and your family members on behalf of the Judicial Department.
The legal profession which you are now part of, is considered a noble profession which requires lawyers to always act with integrity and dignity. You will no doubt get lot of respect from your family, friends, relatives and the public at large.
You as Lawyers now play a vital role in our legal system and that is not to be taken lightly. As Lawyers you will be entrusted to solve problems faced by members of our communities in terms of their properties, home, finances, business dealings and family matters. You will be called upon to defend and protect rights guaranteed to individuals under our Constitution and International Law. Judicial system has become an important part of our life. It is your duty as lawyers to get people treated fairly and grant them justice.
You will be called upon to make decisions which will affect and change peoples’ life.
You will be called upon to act in the best interest of your client for the reason being, your client will rely on your legal expertise/advice and of course pays you.
However, you must not forget the very basic fact that you after being admitted to the Bar are Officers of the Court. You are therefore duty bound to adhere to rules of the Court and Code of Conduct stated in Legal Practitioners Act 2009 towards the Court and fellow Practitioners.
We as Judges are very mindful of the conduct of the Lawyers when they appear in Court. We obviously expect them to maintain professional conduct and court etiquettes. One thing you must try never to do is mislead the Court or Lawyers acting for another party on law or facts of your case.
If you act with fairness and in the interest of justice, then other lawyers and Judicial Officers will tend to accept and rely on your representations.
Some of the very basic code of conduct between Lawyers and Court are:
- You as a Lawyer should not knowingly deceive or mislead the Court;
- You as a Lawyer should act with due courtesy to Court and take all reasonable steps to avoid unnecessary expense or waste of Court’s time;
- When dealing with other Lawyers you should treat them with courtesy and fairness.
You will sometimes face Counsel in Court, who may raise their voice to scare you or upset you. It does happen in Courts. Please don’t be discouraged or disheartened because you cannot control others. All you can do is control yourself by not reacting in the same manner, but in a professional manner.
In a recent case the Supreme Court of India in passing comment on the legal profession observed as follows:-
“It is to be remembered by worthy lawyers that they are part of the judicial system; they are officers of the Court and are a class apart in the society … they are an intellectual class of the society. What may be proper for others may still be improper for them, the expectations from them is to be exemplary to the entire society, then only the dignity of noble profession and judicial system can be protected.”
At this moment, I would like to share my experience when I first appeared in High Court. I had to argue an Application of Vacant Possession filed pursuant to s.169 of Land Transfer Act which was pending for almost 6 years. The lawyer for the Defendant was one of the most senior lawyers in terms of both experience and age. Maybe this could be the reason the junior lawyers who handled the case before me did not pursue this matter vigorously.
The Judge was former Chief Justice His Lordship Gates who was sitting as a Judge in Lautoka at that time. When I entered the Judge’s Chamber the opposing lawyer was sitting with about 10 Law Report Textbooks and I entered with my file and submissions.
I just went, took my seat and when it was my turn I made submissions. The senior lawyer did not open any of the Law Reports or referred to any cases from those Law Reports. I then figured out that those books were just to scare me but unfortunately for him it did not.
Few days after Ruling was delivered in my client’s favour I went to the
Registry to do some filing and the Senior Lawyer was standing in a corner.
He would hardly talk to junior lawyers. So when I was doing my filing at the Registry he came to me and extended his hand for a handshake. After he shook my hand he said to me, “I do not shake hands with anyone”. I replied saying “I consider myself to be so privileged and honoured that you shook hands with me.”
The Code of Conduct I mentioned earlier appear at LEP Schedule to Legal Practitioners Act 2009 and I suggest that you read the Schedule and familiarise yourself with Rules of Professional Conduct and Practices.
One thing you should know is that life becomes harder as we grow. For instance, when we were at school we could not wait to be at University but then when we enter University and see the workload, we look back at our school days and wish we were back at the school. Same thing happens when we join workforce. You will certainly have to work harder because now you will be looked upon by your family members (parents and siblings) to provide for them and guide them.
Obviously, there is a difference between being a Lawyer and practicing law. Almost anyone has the capacity to become a Lawyer but not all can become a successful practitioner. You will need to be hardworking, committed and dedicated in all respects.
If you ask any lawyer who has or had a successful practice, they will certainly tell you there is no substitute for hard work. Most times it is lawyers who play a major role in judgments written by Judges and Magistrates because it is lawyers who do research, and make submissions to Court.
During the few years of practice you must take yourself to be a learner and you will need to learn from senior practitioners and your fellow associates on how to practice.
As you progress in your life as a lawyer it is always advisable to look back at your life in terms of the hard work done by you and sacrifices made along the way by you and your loved ones for you to be a success.
For now, you should not forget to thank your family, friends, and relatives who gave you financial and moral support for your achievements.
I for myself and on behalf of the Judicial Department wish you all the best in your chosen career and hope you do well in your life.
Once again congratulations to you and your family on your achievement.
If you forget anything I said so far please do not forget the oath you just took and it is that you will truly and honestly conduct yourself as a legal practitioner according to the best of your knowledge and ability.
I leave you with this quote: “Courage is the most important attribute of a lawyer. It is more important than competence or vision. It can never be an elective in any law school, and it should pervade the heart, the halls of Justice and chambers of the mind” [Robert F. Kennedy].
Thank you for listening and may God bless you all.