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Wednesday, 25 September 2019

LEGAL DUTIES OF AN ADVOCATES




Being an advocate might not be easy for those who are not devoted enough.  Advocate is a career that involves a lot of crucial duties which when breached, may attract strong disciplinary actions. To normal person, an advocate may be a person who represents people before court, a person who prepares and attest legal documents or a person who is very busy and complicated but this is not enough. Here, the duties of advocates in a broader sense will be covered.


Being an advocate might not be easy for those who are not devoted enough.  Advocate is a career that involves a lot of crucial duties which when breached, may attract strong disciplinary actions. To normal person, an advocate may be a person who represents people before court, a person who prepares and attest legal documents or a person who is very busy and complicated but this is not enough. Here, the duties of advocates in a broader sense will be covered.   

Duties of Advocates

Generally, duties of advocates are classified into six-folds;
  1. Advocate duty to the court
  2. Advocate duty to the client
  3. Advocate duty to his opponent
  4.  Advocate duty to his profession
  5.  Advocate duty to the general public
  6. Advocate duty to himself



Advocate Duty to Court

This is one of the very important duties of the advocate in the administration of justice and the legal system at large. To court, an advocate is supposed to discharge the following duties;
  • To assist the court to reach a proper decision. Here an advocate is required to conduct a huge research concern the case at hand and also to avail to court, every documents and evidence to enable the court to reach its decision.
  •  Not to mislead the court by intentionally give a false information to the court.
  •  Respect. Here advocate is supposed to appear before a court with proper attire, respect all court personnel and court sessions, to be on time, speak a proper language and conduct himself in high esteem.


Advocate Duty to Client

Generally, the lawyer-client relationship is fiduciary in nature. The expression ‘fiduciary duty’ is properly confined to those duties which require extreme care and acting in the best interest of another. Breach of fiduciary duty attracts legal consequences. The advocate duties to the client include;

Read also Lawyer client relationship: 4 Things To Consider When a Lawyer Is Discharging His Duties to Client

  •  Confidentiality



This is a primary duty and it is one of the most delicate obligations a lawyer has to observe. Advocate is required to keep the affairs of his client private. This applies to all clients to be continuous or casual ones.  The advocate is supposed to observe this duty during service and after service. However, there is a circumstance where an advocate is compelled by law to produce information about his client

  • Loyalty



An Advocate is supposed to be loyal to his client.  He is required to respect and prioritize all the concerns and affairs of the client. An advocate should protect the interest of his clients and not by any manner hurt his client by his act or omission.

  • Open



A lawyer is required to deal with their clients in an open and undisguised manner. There are supposed to provide guidance to their clients and inform them of the real progress of their case. He should not use his position and ignorance of his client to attract unfair advantages.

  •  Competence and Skills



Lawyers are under a tortuous duty to act with appropriate professional care and make sure that they exercise their skills in every decision they opt to take concerning the factual situation. Such advice should comprise of competent legal opinion based on an informed knowledge of facts and the law. He must be able to state the merit of the case and the probable outcomes. As far as competence and skills are concerned, the client should be able to depend on advocates advice and conducts

Advocate Duty to His Opponent

When dealing with his/her colleague an advocate is required to observe the following duties
  •  Fairness. Advocate is restricted to involve himself in unfair practice against his opponent. He is required, when necessary to supply any useful document or information to his opponent at the right time. He should avoid all unnecessary delays.
  • Respect. Advocate is supposed to respect his opponent in their dealings.
  • Cooperation. Advocate is supposed to cooperate with his opponent to ensure proper administration of justice.



Advocate Duty to His Profession

  •  To protect the image of the profession by conducting himself in a professional way.
  • Advocate is supposed to follow all rules and ethics regarding his profession.
  •  To attend a seminar and workshop aims at improving the profession.
  • To give relevant advice and constructive ideas towards improving his profession.

Advocate Duty to General Public

  • To provide legal aid to those who cannot afford to pay for legal service.
  • To defend human rights, rule of law and democracy by being in front-line to criticize all acts against human right and democracy.
  • To participate in reforms and programs that would help society to attain a higher social and economic development.
  •  To encourage the general public to obey the law.
  • To promote important legal affairs to general public.


Advocate Duty to Himself

  •  Integrity. An advocate is required to be a person with high integrity.  Integrity includes how an advocate lives his non-professional life.
  • To polish his skills.
  • To be updated with contemporary legal affairs.
  •  To be honest and trustworthy.
  • To love his himself. He is supposed to be smart and presentable all the time.
  • To abide by all rules and professional ethics.



Final Remarks

Sometimes during the day to day duties, an advocate may face a conflict of interest. For example, his client’s duty of confidentiality may be conflicted with his duty to the general public or his loyal duty to a client may be confronted with his duty to the court. Generally, it is advised that for the avoidance of conflict of interests an advocate should disclose to the client any interest that he may have in the matter at hand or otherwise he may advise the client to seek another advocate.

In case the advocate’s duty to the client and to court are in conflict, advocate’s duty to court will prevail because an advocate is an officer of the court.

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