5 Days Professional Ethics Seminar on Legal Fraternity - Theory and Practice

Executive Summary 

Kathmandu School of Law has a long-standing commitment to organizing program related with professional ethics focusing on motivating the young law students to adhere to the professional ethics. In strengthening the ethical commitment, B.A.LL.B. 3rd Year students of Kathmandu School Law organized five days’ seminar program titled “Professional Ethics in the Legal Fraternity: Theory and Practice”. In the five days’ seminar program, the wide members of the legal fraternity gave the lecture focusing on the ground reality of the profession. In the inauguration program, most of the dignitaries focused on the role of a lawyer as a social engineer and mentioned that they are responsible for creating the basic structure in the society. Honorable Acting Chief Justice Deepak Raj Joshi, the Chief Guest of the opening ceremony stated that the ethics can only be promoted in presence of sufficient budget, highlighting that government has a negative attitude towards the judiciary as a non-productive sector. Additionally, Prof. Dr. Yubaraj Sangroula stated that the legal profession is degenerating which has led to losing the faith of the public in this profession.

The Vice-President of Nepal Bar Association, Moti Raj Gautam accepted that very few lawyers adhere to the professional ethics in Nepal. Assistant Professor Gyanu Gautam, the Coordinator of Clinical Law Department gave the welcome speech starting with the Sanskrit sloka “Ashatoma sadh gamaya tamosama jyotir gamaya mrityoma amritam gamaya” which means human tends to strive from asat to sat, andhakar to jyoti and mrityu to amrit emphasizing the internalization of ethics and ended his statement by giving a short glimpse of the whole seminar program.  Senior Advocate Krishna Prasad Bhandari showed his disappointment towards the present scenario of Nepalese judicial system, mentioning that "Judiciary has become the paradigm of mafia" suggesting the students to make the life free of sin and strive to learn with hardship. Prof. Geeta Pathak Sangroula mentioned that there are adequate principles and laws to govern the ethics of law professionals but lawyers lack the honesty to implement it. Prof. Dr. Kumar Ingnam vehemently criticized lawyers for taking excessive fees from the clients and committing corruption. At the end of the opening ceremony, Prof. Madhav Prasad Acharya as a closing remark said: "If the legal system is changed, the Code of Conduct would ipso facto come into implementation."  

The second day commenced with the lecture of Dr. Om Sitaula.  He discussed the role of ethics in different profession whereby he stated that "Ethics is not applicable only for lawyers rather it is a fundamental behavior of the society". Narayan Sharma, Section Officer of Office of Attorney General gave a presentation focusing on the international laws which dealt with Code of Conduct of Government Attorney. Udhav Pudasaini, Joint Attorney General of Office of Attorney General, focused on the need for the professional independence as the prerequisite for the government attorney to represent the government case. Khem Raj Gyawali, Joint Attorney General, Head of International Relation at the Office of Attorney General gave the insight about the history of the public prosecutor as legal professionals in Nepal. In the same day, Roshi Bhandari, Assistant District Attorney of District Government Attorney Office, Kathmandu emphasized on the concept of "Role and Identity". Senior Advocate Narendra Prasad Pathak, Former Deputy Attorney General highlighted that law being a social science deals with the whole society giving emphasis to a lawyer as a social engineer. He rightly pointed out that small mistake of a physician may lead to the death of patient but a small mistake of lawyer destroys the entire fabric of the society. In second session Advocate Anil Kumar Shrestha, Assistant Professor of Kathmandu School of Law highlighted that lawyer’s quality depends upon the training, organizational structure of law firm, lawyers' discipline, malpractice liability, malpractice insurance, regular update test, passion and access to resources.

In the third day of the program, Advocate Kishor Bista stated that the diversification of the profession is unethical.  He added that the new generation has the capacity to bring changes in terms of the ethics of defense lawyers. Honorable Judge Shree Krishna Bhattarai, Judge of Bhaktapur District Court put forth the principles incorporated in the Bangalore principle of judicial conduct. He mentioned that almost 30 national code of conduct and around 8 regionals and international code of conducts were taken into consideration while drafting the Bangalore principle. In the second session, Senior Advocate Bishwa Kanta Mainali, Former President of the Nepal Bar Association concluded his presentation by giving some points which lawyers should always keep in mind and they were: mastery on subject, crystal clear on the concept of law, should be polite towards the judge and should keep his/her arguments firmly. Bimal Poudyal, Registrar of the High Court, Patan enlightened that altogether 23,000 cases are yet to be decided by the Supreme Court nevertheless he gave very positive note that the track record of the high courts and the district courts are comparatively better than Supreme Court. Saroj Raj Regmi, Deputy Registrar, Supreme Court of Nepal defused the perception that entire judicial mechanism and justice appointment process is corrupted. 

On the fourth day, Puja Khatri, Section Officer, Supreme Court of Nepal mentioned about the challenges that a young law professional faces as a government employee which starts with the phase of recruitment to the retirement. Neetij Rai, Section Officer, Supreme Court of Nepal encouraged the students to have a positive attitude and patience to welcome the upcoming opportunities that come up with the challenges in the judicial service.  

On the fifth day, Prof. Dr. Kumar Ingnam, Professor of Kathmandu School of Law and Senior Advocate focused on the importance of pro bono lawyering in Nepal. He differentiates between legal aid and pro bono service as in legal aid, government and other organizations pay the lawyer but in pro bono, a lawyer gives free service on a voluntary basis. Advocate Suraj Basnet, Assistant Professor of Kathmandu School Law dealt with the topic "Juvenile Justice and Role of Lawyers", where he mainly focused that delinquency is the social response and should be treated in a different manner. Advocate Yugichha Sangraula, Assistant Professor of Kathmandu School of Law provided the students with differentiation of the two parts of the world where she concluded saying that we have been doodling around with the misconception that Asian perspective is more inclined towards community welfare whereas Europe towards individual autonomy. 

The five days of seminar helped the students to know the ground reality of law professionals, how difficult it is to work in the starting phase of the profession and that all lawyers are not following the code of conduct. The changes which need to be immediately done in the legal field are lawyers should legally be bound to pay taxes and should work more for the community than for money.

Rapporteur: Aarzoo Karki, Bhawana Bharnwal, Dibya Shrestha, Prajwol Bickram Rana, Shyam Sundar Shrestha and Sunaina Khinju