ADDRESS BY THE HONOURABLE LADY CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE REPUBLIC OF GHANA,
JUSTICE GERTRUDE SACKEY TORKORNOO,
ON THE OCCASION OF THE ENROLMENT OF
NEW LAWYERS AND CALL TO THE BAR
 
Date: Friday, 31st May, 2024
Venue: Accra International Conference Centre

 


My Lord and Lady Justices of the Superior Courts of Judicature

Honorable Deputy Attorney-General and Minister for Justice

Your Honors and Worships herein present

National President and Members of the Ghana Bar Association

Members of the General Legal Council

Directors and Lecturers of the Ghana School of Law

Deans and Members of the various Faculties of Law

Nananom and Nana Hemaa

Newly Qualified Lawyers

Members of the Media

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

 

Good morning. It is indeed my great privilege and pleasure to preside over this special meeting of the General Legal Council, that will receive into the legal fraternity, a new batch of qualified lawyers, pursuant to Section 7 of the Legal Profession Act, 1960 (Act 32) “The General Legal Council shall from time to time hold formal meetings at which duly qualified applicants shall be enrolled and called to the bar, but the Council may at their discretion dispense with the formalities under this section in any particular case”.

 

It is my pleasant duty as Chief Justice backed by the weight and authority of the General Legal Council, to induct the freshly qualified students of the Ghana School of Law into the noble profession. By dint of hard work, perseverance and deployment of intellectual acumen, they have earned the right to be called lawyers as from today. I am delighted, in the presence of proud family members and friends, to officially welcome them into the legal community.

 

Speaking to families, instructors and all who have had the privilege of witnessing their growth and transformation into legal professionals, let me extend my heartfelt ‘Congratulations’ on this occasion that celebrates your success and the results of years of investment, sacrifice and hard work put into this journey.  You have gone through periods of intense academic pressure that has demanded and stretched your discipline, relentless effort and unshakeable determination to achieve this professional goal. No one can take this away from you, and so let me assure you that when the nation looks at you today, we do not see just new lawyers, but also, champions of perseverance and resilience. Congratulations on your new found success.

 

The proud parents, guardians, mentors, friends and all those who held your hand with the necessary motivation and support, deserve commendation and I join you in thanking them. The special role of the Director of Legal Education, and all the Lecturers who helped to shape and guide this professional career in law also deserve recognition and appreciation. Thank you very much, Barima Director and your team.  

 

This morning, I would like to share thoughts with you on three mini themes. The lawyer and the law, and the lawyer and his society and the lawyer and his profession.

 

As you prepare to enter the world of lawyers and a relationship with the law itself, it is appropriate to caution that beyond all the joy and excitement you feel today, lies a new trajectory of life that is unrelenting in its demand to practically exhibit and demonstrate knowledge of every aspect of the rules that populate every area of life.

 

Whether you will practice this profession at the bar of the courts, in the corporate world, within the corridors of legislators, as an academic, or even within the confines of your own business, you are expected to appreciate the nuances and import of legal concepts, precepts, principles and doctrines, and apply them appropriately to all the myriad sets of fact situations that may confront you. This cannot be achieved without the corresponding sharpening of the skills of listening, hearing, understanding, and processing of facts into lines of law for competent advocacy and expression, as well as skills in researching. It is important therefore to remind you, that you have been pulled into a world of intense thinking, rumination, enquiry, and evaluation. The practice of the law is not a space for mediocre exhibition of purported superiority of knowledge, but a space for consistently humble, sober, and reflective models of thinking that will allow you to serve those that depend on you with clarity and benefit.

 

Please reflect on this fresh set of challenges ahead of you.

 Until now, you have spent years studying the law within silos of subject areas. However, life does not function in silos of subject areas. Each problem you will be called on to resolve straddles multiple contexts of law. In effect, as new lawyers, the first step to resolving any legal problem is the proper appreciation of the full expanse of all the areas of law that the specific facts call for. You can only achieve this when you exercise your minds and intellectual capacities across a wide spectrum in every tiny set of facts.  Your new status carries along with it the understanding in the minds of the public that you are specialists in law, when you are only now going to experience how the law function. This places an onerous responsibility on you to be competent and diligent at what you do. So as you jump in excitement, let me also whisper to you to please calm down, and approach this profession with all your ears, mind and thought.

 

The lawyer and society

If there is anything that history should teach us, it is that humanity will always challenge itself and compel the communities we live in to change, or morph. The history of nations, families and identity of individuals seem to constantly ebb and flow from one structure to another. Kindly reflect on the structurally strong ways in which society has been changing in the last decade. The hitherto seemingly resilient doctrine of sovereignty of nations that dominated the history of nations in the last century, and after the first world war is now being challenged on every continent with wars, secessions and ethnic upheavals. Just when it seemed that democracy as a form of governance had settled down after colonialism, a different wave of asserting power is sweeping across nations. What does it mean for the governance of contemporary developing nations such as ours? What contributions can lawyers make to the stability and prosperity of our nations and communities? How well do we understand how technology and the demands of societies affect the landscape of our legal world? How well do we understand the legalities that must be applied to issues raging within our immediate environment – unbridled mining of farming lands and forests and global warming.

 

I believe that we are facing unprecedented challenges that demand our wisdom, resilience, and understanding in how to translate the legal norms that we have learnt in constitutional law, contract, tort, criminal law, intellectual property and apply them to the fact situations of human interaction with technology. To make this even more challenging, rapid advancements in technology, shifting societal norms and global interconnectedness are compelling a reshaping of the way we must understand law, practise it, and deliver justice. With this new status of a lawyer, how will you apply research and knowledge to express yourself and guide those who look to you in your role as guardians of the rule of law? As legal professionals, we must ensure that these situations do not move us from the coherence, harmony, protectiveness and principle based structure of the law.  Our contributions should help build up society, not tear it apart. Kindly utilize your knowledge and skills positively to advance the development of society even as you represent the interests of your client as a legal professional. The survival of democracy, rule of law, environment and the nation’s economy must be worth more than any monetary reward you may stand to gain.

 

The lawyer and their profession.

Finally, I would like to address the issue of the values that the profession demands of lawyers. In my view, the most critical values for a lawyer is competence and diligence. In contemporary practice, however, when we are required often to work across varying domains, this imperative is coming comes into even sharper focus. Competence and the application of it must begin immediately a problem is brought to the attention of a lawyer.  It compels an early review of all technical rules that determine legality, including capacity, jurisdiction and the effect of time.

This initial assessment is not just a formality; it is the foundation upon which the entire legal process rests. To increase competence in our profession, you as a lawyer must commit to doing the necessary work. You cannot take shortcuts or assume that the rights and interests of those you serve can be rescued without proper preparation. The legal profession demands a high level of expertise and we owe a debt to put in all the preparatory hard work, and seek assistance where necessary, in order to deliver quality justice.

 

In conclusion, I wish to impress on you to prefer the development of a strong moral compass to mere acknowledgement as a lawyer.

The legal profession is a noble one, built on the foundations of justice, fairness and the upholding of fundamental rights. As one traverses the daily grind of work, you will be certain to encounter myriad ethical dilemmas. How these challenges are navigated constitutes part of the burden that the lawyer carries.

 

As guardians of justice, our choices are pivotal in upholding the rule of law and ensuring that the legal system remains a solid foundation for the whole society.

 

Approach your work with a profound sense of duty and responsibility and let your actions reflect not merely your ambitions, but also serve as a testament to the sacrifices of those who paved the way for the progress of the legal profession. A generation from now, I am confident that the names that have been called today become the names that inspire another batch of new lawyers. You can make it happen. Congratulations!

 

 

JUDICIAL SERVICE OF GHANA

P.O. Box GP 119, Accra

Tel: (+233) 0302-663951, 663954, 666671

LAW COURT COMPLEX ACCRA

Tel: (+233) 0302-748100, 748101, 748102

 

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