Legal Ethics

Marauding Lawyers Spur Fears in Pakistan

Lawyers in Pakistan received widespread notice when their protests led to reinstatement of the nation’s chief justice and called attention to an atmosphere of lawlessness in the country.

Now some of the lawyers are part of the problem, the Washington Post reports. “In a nation where the rule of law is already fragile on many levels,” the story says, “police officials, judges, litigants and witnesses say they have become increasingly fearful of marauding lawyers in their trademark black pants, coats and ties.”

The story reports on a police investigator who says lawyers pummeled him because he refused to share a confidential hospital report. Reports this year of at least 15 instances of alleged “hooliganism” and “high-handedness” by lawyers have undermined a reformist reputation that began with protests in Lahore.

“Since those heady days, critics say, lawyers’ arrogance and aggressiveness have wiped out any goodwill they had generated,” the story says. “Judges, in particular, say lawyers have become drunk on power, unafraid to curse judicial officers, drag them from their courtrooms and padlock the doors.” The problem is more frequent in Lahore, where three courtroom brawls were reported on just one day in May.

The Post interviewed Zulfiqar Ali, president of the Lahore Bar Association, who said lawyers need to improve their behavior. He said law schools fail to emphasize ethics and courtroom conduct, and the bar association has responded with weekly lectures aimed at improving decorum and competence. Despite the problems, he says, lawyers are responsible for protecting budding democracy in the country.

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