Reading Hon. Nkrabeah Effah – Dartey’s piece in both the Daily Graphic, Monday October, 5, 2011 issue and subsequently Daily Guide on his 25th Anniversary at the bar made my day.
It was such a joy for me and of course very inspirational. It was so refreshing reading about his experiences both in courtrooms and outside, methods for charging fees, how to conduct cases and one’s self at the bar etc.
I must say such pieces of advice are very rare and could not have come at a better time like this when about 205 newly-qualified lawyers have just been called to the bar with some who may not know how or where to start . Otherwise everything else has to be learnt the hard way!
In America and many other jurisdictions, lawyers write a lot so it’s quite easy to learn from a lot of them within a short time which can enrich one’s experience. Some of my favorite old lawyers like Abraham Lincoln, John Jay, John Marshall, and Stephen Douglas, have a lot written on them either by themselves or others. Even some of the recent famous ones like Al Sharpton , Marsha Clark, Robert L. Shapiro, Alan M. Dershowitz, Kenneth Starr, Anita Hill, Johnnie Cochran, Lynne Stewart and many more have a lot written on them either by themselves or by others.
Take for example a book I recently bought on the life of Johnny Cochran, ‘A Lawyer’s Life’. The work, among others, talks about how he grew up to become a District Attorney in California, his experiences there and how that shaped his advocacy skills later in criminal trials as a defence attorney even in winning some of the famous cases. Of course, Nkrabeah has also mentioned some of the famous cases he has won. So why not put some of these feats in a book for all to read. Locally, even though we have many of these legal talents, very little is written about such lawyers concerning their experiences either by themselves or others.
Lawyers with great advocacy skills include the likes of the late Peter Ala Adjetey who, I learnt, could argue for about three days in court without sipping water! Yet it appears such a gem left nothing or very little behind on his advocacy skills. I know advocacy is an art but much could be learnt from the experiences of others, as the American celebrated writer F. L. Wellman would say. Today, we have the likes of the respectable Sam Okudzetos, the Akufo-Addos, the Nene Amagatchers, Yony Kulendis, the Ace Ankomas, the Egbert Faibiles, ( of course these are not by any means the only lawyers with great advocacy skills ) and many brilliant Judges including her Ladyship, the Chief Justice. I hope her ladyship will one day kindly bless the legal fraternity with a memoir spanning her forty-year period at the bench. I believe her rich experience can easily fill a book of about 250 pages and many cannot wait for this, most especially the ladies, at the bar yearning for the bench.
All these legal experts sometimes keep their experiences to themselves. They only share some of them when you get closer to them or happen to be a close friend, or better still when they are in an expansive mood and you happen to be in their company. Our honorable Judges are good sources for such pieces of admonition.
One such good source for stories of such rich experiences could be Justice Aryeetey’s moot courts during the moot sessions at the Law School. Even with this, you will only get and hear the best when you attend these sessions regularly, otherwise, you learn everything the hard way! I don’t mean textbook writings on substantive or procedural law. I mean practical professional experiences in courts and personal lives of jurists and lawyers. Such books are very rare in our bookshops and libraries. I think they must generally and generously write and write the more for the younger ones!
Timeless pieces of advice like never to quarrel with a judge, or be angry with a court, being patient, humble and respectful at the bar, networking and partnering with other colleague lawyers, charges for clients , pro-bono services etc are all contained in the piece I read from Hon. Nkrabeah.
Again, little ‘miracles’ and even his experience with God and how God has been faithful to him in his law practice, avoidance of quarrels with colleague lawyers, avoiding underhand deals, consultations with senior colleagues lawyers etc. are all worthy pieces of advice that can be chronicled into a book. Using such a medium, he will certainly have more to say and more ears to listen to him.
Summing up, Hon. Nkrabeah’s write-up is so refreshing and encouraging. His piece reminds me of the contents of Iain Morley’s ‘Devil’s Advocate’ which a judge recently lent to me to read. Please senior colleagues, the younger ones need such books on practical experience from you. The bookshops and the libraries have little by or about lawyers in Ghana in that respect. The challenge is to all; both young and old, ‘big time’ and ‘small time’ lawyers. Indeed, to God be the glory! Hon. Nkrabeah, I share in your joy!
Bleated happy 25th anniversary celebration. Long live the Ghana Bar!
Source: Joe Antah - Email:[email protected]
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