CHIEF Justice Ernest Sakala has bemoaned the poor passing rate among law graduates at the Zambia Institute of Advanced Legal Education (ZIALE) who are admitted as lawyers to the bar.
Justice Sakala said this Friday when he officiated at the call day to admit 16 out of 145 lawyers to the bar who sat for the ZIALE examinations.
He said the passing rate among graduate lawyers at the institution leaves much to be desired.
“The immediate reaction of an independent observer of the situation at ZIALE must be that there is something seriously wrong with the system that fails all the trainees it purports to have trained.
“Statistically, it is practically impossible that out of 145 students that ZIALE accepted for training only a handful were actually of a grade that ZIALE actually excepted,” Justice Sakala said.
He said from the number of students who passed the examination, one is compelled to assume that either the lecturers underperformed or the examinations which students took had no connection with what the learners were taught.
Mr Justice Sakala said there is need to put in place measures to improve the pass rate if the law profession is to go back to its glory days when it made Zambia proud and the entire African continent.
He said ZIALE management should implement recommendation made to improve the passing rate at ZIALE because the happenings at the institution does not make “good reading.”
The Chief Justice said time has come to review the core of what constitutes ZIALE’s main function in the training of law graduates.
Mr Justice Sakala said there is need to identify real issues which affect performance at ZIALE and these include the relevance of the training, how well equipped lecturers are and the calibre of students entering law schools.
Other matters include scrutinising examinations relevance, the duration of the course and whether it needs to be increased to allow the students more time to assimilate the course content and attachments to law firms and institutions.
Mr Justice Sakala advised the newly qualified lawyers to the bar to build a firm foundation of honest, respect and integrity for them to prosper in their careers.
He said as advocates, it will be their duties to defend the fundamental principles that judges should be free from public pressure for them to fulfill their constitutional obligation to make independent decisions.
ZIALE director Palan Mulonda urged the lawyers to ensure they use the profession in contributing to the fight against corruption.
Mr Mulonda said corruption, once entertained within the legal profession, negatively affects the ability to professionally and ethically compete for business and make it challenging for professional and ethical lawyers to operate.
“To fail society in this fight will actually mean aiding corruption as legal practitioners,” he said.
Law Association of Zambia president Musa Mwenye urged newly admitted members of the bar to emulate distinguished lawyers because no attorney can develop as an island because the development of a lawyer happens by emulating distinguished advocates.