Fordham Law School joined global law firm White & Case LLP and the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Affairs (GIMPA) Law School for a week of legal ethics programs and events, including sessions discussing comparative perspectives on legal ethics, corruption, business and human rights, and the launch of the third annual Legal Ethics Training Programme. These events were organized by the African Centre on Law & Ethics (ACLE), established last year by White & Case, Fordham Law School and GIMPA Law School, to help facilitate a growing commitment to legal ethics through research, scholarship, and training.
On July 17, Her Ladyship, Justice Sophia A.B. Akuffo, Chief Justice of the Republic of Ghana, opened an evening workshop for members of the judiciary and legal practitioners entitled “Comparative Perspectives on Legal Ethics: Building Cross Border Understanding.” Chief Justice Akuffo spoke on the importance of ethics and the fundamental role it plays in strengthening the rule of law. Following the opening remarks, audience members engaged in a discussion led by Benson Nutsukpui, the President of the Ghana Bar Association, Dean Kofi Abotsi, GIMPA Law School, Jennifer Paradise, White & Case partner and general counsel, and Jacquelyn MacLennan, White & Case partner and head of the global Pro Bono practice.
“The importance of ethics in the legal profession cannot be understated,” said Abotsi. “As lawyers, we have a duty to uphold the highest ethical standards. In promoting such conduct, we support the rule of law and ensure equivalent access to justice.”
That same Tuesday also marked the start of the third annual Legal Ethics Training Programme, a four-day interactive course for law students. Modeled on a legal ethics program White & Case helped launch in Russia, it covered the principles and rules central to professional legal practice—in Ghana as well as other jurisdictions. The program’s innovative format made use of practical exercises in small group sessions to discuss issues relating to the legal codes of ethics, regulation and enforcement, the relationship between attorneys and judges, confidentiality and avoiding conflicts of interest.
More than 60 law students participated, and this year the program was expanded to include students from other African countries. Ghanaian students were joined by law students from the Gambia, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Uganda.
Supreme Court Justice Nasiru Sulemana Gbadegbe and former Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Wood provided remarks at the program’s opening and closing ceremonies.
Jennifer Paradise helped design the program’s curriculum and also serves as faculty. “Instilling a strong sense of legal ethics in the lawyers of the future could not be more important—in Ghana or anywhere else,” said Paradise. “It is good to see the program expanded to law students from other countries so they can take this important knowledge back home. White & Case is honored to partner with Fordham, GIMPA Law School and senior members of the judiciary in doing so.”
Also serving as faculty for the Ethics Programme were White & Case partners Jacquelyn MacLennan and Mukund Dhar, senior manager of global citizenship Elizabeth Black, and Georgetown professor Sheila Foster.
The American Lawyer awarded the Legal Ethics Training Programme its “Global CSR Project of the Year” award in 2017.
Professor Paolo Galizzi, interim director of the ACLE and clinical professor of law at Fordham Law School, recognized the essential role played by Dean Abotsi of GIMPA Law School and White & Case in making the events possible and remarked that “although the ACLE is still in its infancy, we are proud of the work we are doing to have open discussions and interactions with all stakeholders and particularly young law students on the critical issues of ethics and the role lawyers play in society.”
The ACLE focuses on four areas of programming: conferences and symposia; law school curriculum modules on legal ethics; executive education for practicing lawyers and judges; and the Legal Ethics Training Programme for law students.