Written by Dr. Chukwudubem B. Anyigbo, SAN
At no other time is the objective guiding principles and values for the conduct of a person’s affairs put to stricter test than a time when there is unstable state of affairs occassioning hardship, with a possibility of undesirable outcome. Those objective principles form the ethics; while the unstable condition with a high possibility of instability producing undesirable outcome is a condition of crisis.
In legal practice, ethical standards for the practice of law have been codified. Breach of those codes exposes the offending practitioner to sanctions ranging from admonition, to suspension, to striking off his name from the roll of legal practitioners in Nigeria or withdrawal of practice license in some jurisdictions.
As it concerns legal practice in Nigeria, the issue is not so much what those ethical conducts are. The issue rather is: considering the pressure to engage in inappropriate dealings so as to survive in a crisis period, how does a legal practitioner maintain those ethical standards in the face of daunting challenges occasioned by difficult and unstable situations?
This discourse examines the concepts of ethics in legal practice and period of crisis. It discusses various methods of maintaining ethical values in legal practice and the need to observe and uphold those guiding principles at all times. It concludes with the requisites for attaining those standards in a crisis situation and the way forward.
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