Judge president of the High Court of Malawi Commercial Division Justice John Katsala and the Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale have urged the Malawi Law Society (MLS) to set up deliberate programmes to manage its membership both physically and mentally.
The two said the law profession was becoming a challenging field because of the changes in the practice; hence, the society needs to convene and discuss modern-day issues with its membership.
Katsala and Kaphale were speaking on Friday at the start of MLS two-day non-elective annual general meeting (AGM) and conference in Mangochi held under the theme Contemporary Issues in Legal Practice.
The judge president took time to remind the lawyers about the need to remain professional in their day to day conduct like the way they groom themselves, their dressing, training and orientation on court practices.
“I have noticed that most of the times, especially for the young lawyers, they are not very well-prepared for their appearance in court so we tend to face hitches and even the quality of representation they display is not up to date,” observed Katsala.
He said lawyers were stakeholders in the justice system and, by law, are court officers as they help the court to achieve its objective of dispensing justice according to law.
However, the judge president said lawyers need to be trained adequately in terms of professional conduct before they are released to appear in court to represent clients.
“The society also needs to reinforce its disciplinary mechanisms. Those lawyers that are errant need to face disciplinary actions. Usually when people see that those who misbehave are disciplined others are deterred from misconduct,” said Katsala.
On his part, Kaphale urged MLS to police its membership to promote professionalism for the benefit of the profession and society they serve.
While confessing about the issues raised by the judge president, MLS president Burton Mhango said the introduction of the new Legal Education and Practitioners Act is influencing the members to start complying.
“The new Act has created a number of requirements for lawyers to meet.
Issues of ethics and professionalism among lawyers and swindling of clients’ money [are some issues] we are reflecting today to try to improve,” said Mhango.