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Young lawyers urged to embrace Alternative Dispute Resolution

ADR refers to any means of settling disputes outside of the courtroom. It typically includes early neutral evaluation, negotiation, conciliation, mediation, and arbitration.

Justice Geoffrey Kiryabwire of the Court of Appeal has advised young lawyers to embrace Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) saying the future of legal practice lies with it.

Citing the 2016 Hague Institute for Innovation of Law (HIIL) report that shows that only 5% of disputes go to court and only 1% of the disputes involve lawyers, Kiryabwire said young lawyers should focus on ADR.

Young lawyers are those who have spent less than five years in legal practice and they constitute 70% of the Uganda Law Society (ULS) membership.

Kiryabwire rendered advice to the young lawyers while giving a keynote address at the Young Lawyers’ Symposium 2024 at Fairway Hotel in Kampala on Monday, May 27, 2024. The two-day symposium was organised by the ULS.

“We need to rethink the ADR we practice. The legal system we apply came during the 1902 Order in Council. How were the disputes being resolved
“As lawyers, you have no right to get annoyed, it is only parties that are supposed to be annoyed. Don’t lose your temper, character assassinate the other, and mind your language, Sometimes, I see total confusion in court.

You find lawyers are annoyed and the judge also gets annoyed. As lawyers, you should know that you are not learned enemies but learned friends pleading for the parties in the case,” Kiryabwire said.

Kiryabwire guided that lawyers have a higher calling for the truth. “Before taking on a case, you should be convinced that you have a case to present
before court but we have a challenge that these days advocates even when they have no case to present tell their clients to go to court for it to decide. This is not right,” he said.

Kiryabwire also advised the young lawyers to mind about the dress code saying it is one of the reasons the legal field is losing its prestigious image. “I remember that during our days, the Chief Justice had to be convinced before you were called to the bar and this included the dress code. If you are not robbed properly, you could be rejected but now it is another story,” Kiryabwire said.

Corporate lawyers Fiona Nalwanga, Angelina Namakula, Dennis Kakonge Abigaba, and Elison Karuhanga appealed to the young lawyers to sharpen themselves by showing that they are on the table.

“Law has been my passion and you all know that my father was a lawyer. What I can tell you is that law is an interesting bit but you need to profession. When I share an experience with a young lawyer, he or she is encouraged to move on despite the challenges he or she may be going through,” Oundo noted.
Regarding the quality of lawyers that are being produced, Oundo said it requires national debate because it is not only exclusive to the legal profession.

“The Ministry of Education has started competency-based education and this is a step in the right direction. I think this is what should be done to improve the quality of products we are producing for a better future,” Oundo said.

Source: New Vision