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NewsPay lawyers, they also have lives - GSL Director urges public to...

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Pay lawyers, they also have lives – GSL Director urges public to give up pro-bono lifestyle

Director of the Ghana School of Law (GSL), Barima Yaw Kodie Oppong, has highlighted that many legal practitioners in Ghana provide their services for free, even when they should be paid.

Speaking on JoyNews’ The Law, he explained that this situation arises because some clients do not see the need to pay for services such as consultation unless they are involved in a court case.

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Mr. Oppong noted that in Ghana, there is a perception that legal advice is not worth paying for, unlike other services like tiling, where payment is expected. He emphasized that while the original purpose of the legal profession was not solely for financial gain, it has gradually been recognized as a business.

He emphasized that practicing law should not be limited to receiving payment only for court appearances or successful cases.

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“I perform a service, you pay me. A lot of lawyers are doing free work where they should have charged. Sometimes, the rules make it seem as if this is a profession that makes people perform a service without expectation of remuneration but at the same time, it is also a business…The law has prescribed strictly how that business is to be rendered and the fees for it,”he said.

The GSL Director added that “it is not how much to be taken but how it should be taken. That is why there are a number of cases where when a lawyer has not specifically entered into an agreement with a client, the case is ended and he sends a bill and the court says no to that. From the beginning, you did not even tell him this is how much I’ll charge you or even when you have charged the person, give him prior notice to pay this amount. So not even giving a notice to your own client can be a problem.”

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Mr. Oppong mentioned that in the legal profession, there are rules that can be challenging to enforce when they benefit the lawyer but are easily enforced when they go against the lawyer.

“If you were to follow strictly these rules, a lot of Ghanaians cannot access these services. People think talking about law (on TV shows and programmes) I am charging, and they think that is how I make my money,” he said, adding that although that is how it should be, in Ghana that is not the case.

Mr Oppong said that these rules need to be looked at again. “We should recognise the business aspect of it and also the fact that we are also called upon to render service without claiming any deal and merge it. And when these matters come up the general public should understand that we have rendered free services as well.”

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