21 January 2013

Gambia: 18 Lawyers Called to the Bar the First Time in the Gambia

The General Legal Council of the Gambia has called into the Bar 18 new lawyers at a ceremony held on Friday, 18 January 2013 at the Paradise Suites Hotel. The new barristers and solicitors have graduated from the Gambia Law School.

In his opening remark, the Acting Chief Justice of The Gambia, who is also the Chairperson of the General Legal Council and the Director General of the Gambia Law School, Justice Raymond C. Sock, expressed his pleasure and pride in welcoming the new barristers and solicitors to the Gambian Bar. Justice Sock described this call to the bar ceremony as the first in the history of the Gambia.

Justice Sock disclosed that the Gambia Law School offers a one year professional course to graduates of law from the Faculty of Law of the University of The Gambia which, he said, is an approved university by prestigious universities and higher learning institutions in the globe. He added that there is a post graduate course at the end in which students are awarded a professional degree to become barristers which, he said, is a programme designed to equip the prospective lawyers with the prerequisite skills for a successful legal career. He said students are tutored in civil and criminal procedure, the law of evidence, legal drafting and conveyance, company law and commercial law, professional conduct and solicitors' accounts and the Gambia legal system. He added that in addition to these courses, students are required to spend tedious attachments at the Attorney General's Chambers and private legal practitioners and the law courts and to participate in moots and its villas and it's intended to give the lawyers the social interaction between judges and senior members of the Bar and also to inculcate in them experience of legal practice.

The Acting Chief Justice further told the gathering that the one year course at the Gambia Law School is intensive and challenging but that such is the legal profession for which they are being prepared. He disclosed that all but two of the eighteen students were sponsored by the Government and that it is now time for them to give back to the Gambians, adding "because to whom much is given much is expected". He told the graduants that they must now serve their country by contributing towards the strengthening of the rule of law as a constant entrepreneur for interpersonal relationship and socioeconomic development because their actions should always be guided by justice towards the common good.

Justice Sock concluded by describing the occasion as historic and a milestone development of the legal profession in the Gambia.

Mr. Lamin A.M.S. Jobarteh, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, who also doubles as the Vice Chairperson of the General Legal Council, said it gives him a great sense of pleasure to be invited to this special and unique occasion as he considers the occasion very special because it is a manifestation of a dream come true.

He disclosed that admission into the school has now increased from eighteen to twenty-three students this academic year and that five of the students are foreigners which, he said, is a clear manifestation of the trust and confidence that people have in the Law School. He thanked the President for the support he is giving to the Law School.

He said the Law School was established to ease the difficulties of Gambians wishing to pursue the legal profession, and that its focus is to "train students by instilling in them the ethical responsibilities of the legal profession and the social responsibility to work for a just and a humane society and to produce lawyers who are not only superior legal practitioners but society's conscious leaders who would promote the society's interest and individual clients and groups."

He therefore implored lawyers to uphold at all times the standards and ethics of the legal profession. "It has been said that lawyers should discharge their professional duties with integrity and complete trustworthiness and maintain the dignity of the profession", said Attorney General Jobarteh.

The Attorney General and Justice Minister told the new lawyers that it is fundamental for them to maintain high ethical standards to earn the trust and confidence of their clients and society at large. "And from now the Attorney General and the Ministry of Justice and in concert with the Bar would institute a robust professional code of conduct for lawyers in the Gambia", he concluded.

The guest speaker on the occasion was Alhaji Fafa .E. Mbai, a senior legal practitioner and former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, who delivered a lecture on the theme "The laws and lawyers in a changing society".

Barrister Edward Singhatey gave the vote of thanks.

This was followed by the statement of the president which was delivered on his behalf by the Vice president, Ajaratou Isatou Njie-Saidy.

Moderating the occasion was Mr. Bola Carrol, a senior legal practitioner.

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