Lawyer calls out corruption in legal profession

Minister of Justice, Ziyambi Ziyambi, centre officially launches the book Being the best lawyer written by Lloyd Mhishi, right.

SEASONED legal practitioner, Lloyd Mhishi, has condemned corruption in the legal profession in his latest book titled Being the Best Lawyer.

The book was officially launched by Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi at a local hotel in Harare on Friday.

Two businesspersons, Phillip Chiyangwa and Justin Machibaya, purchased the 309-page book published by Mhishi Trust for US$1 100 and US$1 050, respectively, during an auction.

The book is a guide to achieving true success in the legal profession, according to the author, who said he did not require persuasion to write it.

Drawing from his own career and the experiences of other successful legal practitioners, Mhishi’s book challenges the conventional notions of success and calls for a reset, a return to the core values of the profession. 

“There are some (legal practitioners) here who have practised longer than me, much longer but I have seen enough to be able to testify that the situation in our profession has in some instances moved to another level for the worse. What drove legal practitioners when I started seems not to be the same that drives entrants of today,” Mhishi said.

“I have seen this first-hand as a lecturer of law for more than 25 years. I experienced it as a leader of the professional body, the LSZ (Law Society of Zimbabwe), I have also seen it as a managing partner of one of the biggest law firms in the country, DMH (Dube Manikai and Hwacha Legal Practitioners) and as founding partner at my own law firm.

“As the book explains, where in the past the desire was to develop into a true professional, men and women of integrity, respectable people driven by the desire to further the interest of justice, today’s entrant finds motivation in overnight material success. Not that such ills were not there in the past, we had the rogue older men and women in my time, but our young people have been swallowed in a spiralling rotax and bad deeds, accepting that corruption must be the norm is the order of the day.”

Mhishi, who celebrated 30 years of post-registration legal practice experience two weeks ago, is upbeat that his book will help to bring back professionalism and transparency in the legal field.

“It is the little steps that we are going to make that will make a change; this country will only change if we take such steps. But the sad story continues, I hear of lawyers waiting outside courtrooms hunting for clients, I hear of trust funds being used to buy personal property, in a now competitive environment, I cringe when I hear of judgments being bought,” he added.

“We become useless as lawyers, meaningless if justice is commoditised. The profession is poorer when its drivers lose objectivity, impartiality, and independence, yet deviation from the path of true norms and values of this profession only leads to chaos and destruction.“

Ziyambi, said Mhishi’s book made his task less demanding, adding that he did not need to agonise much when lawyers among themselves write to tell each other how to behave.

“Lawyers must not prioritise fattening their pockets at the expense of promoting and attaining justice and upholding the Constitution they are sworn to serve. Lawyers must be good people, not bad. They must serve the interests of society without bias and prejudice. They must not be corrupt and must abide by the laws of the land, perhaps more than anyone else — for they know better,” Ziyambi said.

“The lessons in the book against corruption and criminal behaviour on the part of all in the legal profession resonate well with the stance espoused by the President, a message everyone, not just lawyers, must read and understand.”

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