With real-life case studies and examples learn why lawyers are important in our life.
Lawyers have traditionally held themselves out as ‘professionals, which sociologically carries the implication that, as professionals, lawyers occupy key positions within society.
They are respected by the layperson as having possession of specialized knowledge, and the supposed, or claimed, ability to solve their client’s problems.
Lawyers present themselves to clients and to the community, as having the authoritative voice on all legal matters …1Phil Harris, An Introduction of Law 4th Edn Butterworths London, Edinburgh, Dublin 1997 Ch 13 p.398
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Who is a lawyer?
A lawyer is a person who is licensed to practice law2Garners, A.B, Black’s Law Dictionary 8th ed,2004 at page 905
In the case of JULIUS PETROL VS COSMAS RAPHAEL3 TLR 346 HC Mwalusanya,J (as he then was) stated that;
A lawyer is a class of the community, who by study and experience have acquired the art and power of arranging every day and applying to the points at the issue that law has settled.
A lawyer has to do for his client, all his client might fair do for himself if he could if, by the superiority of attention of knowledge, of skills and a better method of communication, he has advantages of which entitled.
Is a lawyer, advocate, attorney, barrister, and solicitor the same thing? Find out here
Why lawyers are important
Lawyers are important because lawyers Influence political ideas through the incorporation of legal ideas like social contracts and individual rights, also lawyers influence on ideology plays part in establishing the constitutive framework of rules for the political system.
Further, lawyers can often sharpen contradictions present in society by bringing them dispute settlement mechanisms lastly, lawyers are active as intermediaries between individual groups or even whole classes and the government; between business and state agencies, etc.
As ideologists lawyers are important because of their influence on political ideas through the elaboration of doctrines that justify the exercise or limitation of state power.
Further through the incorporation of legal ideas like a social contract, Human rights, social justice, liberty, democracy, equality, equity, etc. into the language of political argument, lawyers have made the world the better place to stay.
To ensure this importance of lawyers is kept and preserved, the UN through the office of the High Commissioner has adopted the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers 4Adopted by the Eighth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, Havana, Cuba 27 August to 7 September 1990 which under Article 23 provides that
Lawyers like other citizens are entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly. In particular, they shall have the right to take part in public discussion of matters concerning the law, the administration of justice and the promotion and protection of human rights and to join or form local, national or international organizations and attend their meetings, without suffering professional restrictions by reason of their lawful action or their membership in a lawful organization.
Lawyers’ influence on ideology plays part in establishing the constitutive framework of rules for the political system.
Lawyers draft and interpret the constitution.
For example, the following are the lawyers who draft the Indian Constitution
- Dr. BR Ambedkar
- Alladi Krishnaswamy Iyer
- KM Munshi
- Govind Ballabh Pant
- Debi Prasad Khaitan
- Sir Syed Muhammed Saadullah
- N Gopalaswamy Ayyangar
- BL Mitter
You can read more about them here
Apart from those who play part in making the constitution.
There are lawyers who play very hard to protect it.
For example in 2017 in the United States, 11 Top Constitutional Law Experts React to White House Stephen Miller’s Rejection of “Judicial Supremacy.
Those lawyers include Laurence Tribe, Carl M. Loeb University Professor and Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard, David Golove, Hiller Family Foundation Professor of Law, New York University School of Law, Pamela S. Karlan, Kenneth, and Harle Montgomery Professor of Public Interest Law, Co-Director, Supreme Court Litigation Clinic, Stanford Law School
Interested? Read their arguments here
Do you think the constitution is not worth fighting for?
Read what is constituting and why we need a constitution to find out why.
Lawyers are important since they can often sharpen contradictions present in society by bringing them into Courts or an alternative dispute resolution mechanism.
This is to some extent inherent in the way they represent opposed interests capital v. labor; creditor debtors, landlord v tenant; prosecutor v criminal, petitioner v respondent, etc.
Further lawyers protect public interests through Public Interest Litigation (PIL) and judicial activism.
An example of Public Interest Litigation is the Oleum Gas Leak Case that established the concept of “absolute liability” in Indian law.
Lawyers are active as intermediaries between individual groups or even whole classes and the government; between businesses and state agencies etc.
Lawyers help businesses deal with each other or with intricate but essentially routine government regulations.
For example, the following are the importance of lawyers in an Initial public offering (IPO) transaction
- To give comfort to investors – that all is well with the company:
- To ensure that the issuing company is duly constituted as a public company:
- Minimum amber of shareholders
- Free transferability of shares
- Absence of exemption rights
- Invitation to the public to subscribe is not prohibited.
- To ensure that the necessary authorized to go public have been obtained
- Government authorization
- To ensure that the company is in compliance with various legislations.
- Insurance covers
- Specific legislation
- Registrations (if any)
- To deal with all Litigations – which pose threat to the company’s revenue
- To ascertain type of risks facing the company
- Latent and open
- Authentication of documents
- The stricture of shareholding
- Ordinary shares
- Preference shares
- Preparation of various Agreements for the company such as underwriting agreements (if any); engagement of other employees Share Ownership Scheme Trust advising contracts gone are the days when lawyer role was only confined to court work as apposed to management issues as it is the case these days.
- Due diligence is normally done by lawyers to expose the risks, strengths, and weaknesses of the company.
- Declaration by Directors – statements are prepared by lawyers.
- To educate the directors on the code of conduct of directors of listed companies.
When it comes to criminal proceedings lawyers are also great intermeddles.
The UN in article 1 of the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers insists that All persons are entitled to call upon the assistance of a lawyer of their choice to protect and establish their rights and to defend them in all stages of criminal proceedings.
Lawyers as members of the political class
Lawyers are an important section of the political class itself.
Lawyers feature prominently within the ranks of the ruling class.
Up to this juncture, the world has witnessed lawyers who become great leaders in the world, those includes
- Barack Obama
- Nelson Mandela
- Fidel Castro
- Vladimir Puttin
- Mahatma Gandhi
- 1Phil Harris, An Introduction of Law 4th Edn Butterworths London, Edinburgh, Dublin 1997 Ch 13 p.398
- 2Garners, A.B, Black’s Law Dictionary 8th ed,2004 at page 905
- 3 TLR 346 HC
- 4Adopted by the Eighth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, Havana, Cuba 27 August to 7 September 1990