BOOK REVIEW: Lawyers as non-governance leaders

Friday, April 28, 2017

We Are Called To Leadership: the ensuring responsibility of lawyers, Fafa Edrissa M’bai, Fulladu Publishers, 35 pages

Gambian legal luminary and senior member of the Bar and twice Attorney General and Minister of Justice Fafa M’Bai has published a tome of 6 titles on various issues surrounding religion, good governance, and leadership but with the legal profession as the leitmotiv. This book, being a keynote address he gave at a Gambia Bar Association conference on Legal Practice, Ethics and Advocacy, tackles an interesting and quite relevant issue: lawyers as leaders.

This is timely because just the other day 50 were called to the Bar, perhaps the highest number ever to be called to the Gambian Bar at one time. Rewind back four decades ago in 1976 when the author was the only Gambian to be called to the Bar, or even a decade ago when at most 3 to 5 Gambians would be so tasked in a year. Thus increasingly our perception of lawyers is changing because they are now being produced in a semi industrial scale; good tidings as law is made accessible to all. So lawyers should no longer be seen only as privileged, aloof and rather dour set of good citizens, only to be seen and heard within the confines of the law courts. No; now Gambians have to start viewing lawyers as not only prosecutorial but also as presidential in that they have fundamental leadership roles which their hallowed profession assigns them.

Here comes the thrust of this small but engaging book. Besides the authors Miltonian turn of phrases, a quality which he has demonstrated in his earlier works such as In the Service of My Beliefs (1992) and a Senegambian Insight (1992), this essay charts a new way for our new generation of lawyers: leadership roles.

The author is quick to explain on page 9 that by ‘when I dwell on leadership in this sense, I do not refer at all to the issues of governance’, rather leadership in helping to protect the rights of the poor and vulnerable. He explains further: ‘I see the lawyers’ role in even family relationships such as maintenance of children and custody matters’. Here the author touches on as aspect of leadership which the new breed of lawyers would do well by aspiring for as this is the leadership which can have a direct and persistent positive impact on ordinary lives.

Modern life is swimming in wide waters of laws, regulations, and rules which if not properly navigated through could be an impediment to personal progress. This is why the author posits that the law should be and could be a force for internal stability because it removes hopelessness from the ordinary men and women.

This is why on page 23 the author suggest that ‘a member of the Bar must, therefore, be prepared to accept a brief pro bono public… for the public good.. that is without charging professional fees’. This is what can make the ordinary people see lawyers as also as social leaders.

In this book, a worthy thesis is discussed by an equally capable and erudite legal mind. This book is a must read for our new set of legal practitioners and the general reader.

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