ON ETHICAL DILEMMA

By Tobi Amoo

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Hello folks. Hope you are having a great time in your Law office. Please ensure you are polite and show some form of responsibility in your office. Make sure you leave a good lasting impression there, for it maybe the first place you’ll come knocking for a job after your call to bar.

“…I am still a bit confused about what the ethical dilemma is about or how to tackle it. Please could you elaborate a bit further on it?”

The above is one of the similar mails I received with regards to the essay on ethical dilemma. So I will attempt to break it down. As you know, you are required to write two essays – one on law firm management and the other on an ethical dilemma.

The word ‘ethical’ refers to matters of (professional) ethics and rules, while the word ‘dilemma’ refers to a state of confusion or uncertainty as to what choice to make. Therefore, in simple terms, ethical dilemma is a state of uncertainty as to whether a choice will be ethically right or wrong.

The main purpose of the essay on ethical dilemma exercise is to test your knowledge, appreciation and understanding of the application of the Legal Professional Ethics, particularly the Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC) for Legal Practitioners (2007). In other words, can you apply the RPC to real life scenarios? Can you determine whether an act or omission by a legal practitioner is ethically right? And in the event that there is confusion as to what step to take, can your mastery of the RPC enable you guide the confused aright?

In your essay on ethical dilemma, there are only three basic contents you need to include, as follows:

  1. Introduction

Your name; Reg. No.; campus; and the title ‘An Ethical Dilemma’. All in bold letters.

  1. The Problem

Compose a story (or use a live event you witnessed during externship) that reveals an ethical issue or dilemma for a lawyer or a judicial officer. However, be sure that the problem you’re creating can be solved by one or more rules of the RPC.

Here are some examples:

♦⇔ An accountant who later proceeded to study Law and was subsequently called to the Bar. He wants to practice both Accountancy and Law at the same time.

♦⇔ A lawyer having been properly briefed by the client, refused to show up in court on the day the matter has been slated for, without writing to (or informing) the court.

♦⇔ A lawyer is manifestly rude to the Judge in court.

♦⇔ A lawyer wants to enter into partnership with a marketer who will source clients for him, in exchange for sharing the legal fees.

I hope the above examples have given you an idea. The point is, your facts or story should reveal an ethical problem (that has already occurred) or dilemma (that is about to occur). This is where you put your creativity on display.

However, to the Nollywood scriptwriters, please try not to make your story too complex. Also, avoid raising too many dilemmas, so that you can properly conclude.

  1. The solution

Here, you produce the necessary provision(s) of the RPC and then apply same to the problem you have created.

In the examples we gave above, the solution will be:

♦⇔ Rule 7(1), RPC. A person cannot practice Law and another profession at a time, except as permitted by the Council of Bar

♦⇔ Rules 14 and 16, RPC. A lawyer has a duty of diligence, dedication and commitment to his client’s cause, which involves going to court anytime the matter is slated.

♦⇔ Rule 36, RPC. A lawyer must be polite to the court.

♦⇔ Rule 53, RPC. Rule against sharing legal fees with non-lawyer. As well as Rule 39, RPC. Rule against touting for clients.

Once you have identified the necessary rule(s) and judicial authorities (if any), you will then comment on the ethical proprietary or otherwise of the said act or omission, and draw your conclusion.

Here you go! With the above three steps/contents, you have successfully prepared your essay on ethical dilemma.

Addendum:

On essay on Law Firm Management.

The purpose of this is to test your appreciation of the topic ‘Law Office Management’ in your Professional Ethics Course. To effectively prepare the essay, study the topic in your text/note and apply same to the law office where you’re observing your externship.

For instance, the topic says there are different organisations of law firms (e.g Sole Proprietorship, Partnership etc), so your essay should identify what organisation your office can be categorized into. Your essay should also describe your law office with regards to other areas of the topic such as Rooms in a law office; Number/Status of lawyers; Location of office; Office supplies, equipment and machinery; ICT in Law office etc.  

You may conclude the essay on law firm management by either commending the Law office and recommending that subsequent externs be posted there or by condemning the Law office and recommending that externs should no longer be posted there.

images (1)So, here, you have it! Your essays on ethical dilemma and Law office management.

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