NEWS

A-G: Lack of Mentoring In Fraternity

A lack of mentoring in the legal fraternity, mostly within private practice, has been noted. And, High Court Judge Justice Salesi Temo, and Acting Prime Minister and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, highlighted
04 Dec 2016 11:00
A-G: Lack of Mentoring In Fraternity
Chief Justice Anthony Gates and Acting Prime Minister and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum during the Bench and Bar cocktail and dinner last night at the Fiji Museum. Photo: Office of the Attorney-General

A lack of mentoring in the legal fraternity, mostly within private practice, has been noted.

And, High Court Judge Justice Salesi Temo, and Acting Prime Minister and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, highlighted this issue during the Bench and Bar cocktail and dinner held last night at the Fiji Museum.

The event was attended by who’s who of Fijian legal fraternity and was an opportunity for the legal brains in the country to meet and mingle outside the court house.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum spoke candidly about some of the issues they have seen within the legal fraternity, including the condescending attitude of senior practitioners towards younger lawyers, especially women.

He also highlighted the changes being made to modernise Fijian laws and the need for investment in younger lawyers.

He said that at the Solicitor-General’s Chambers, a system was in place where they had a senior mentor, deputy mentors and a couple of other mentors that an individual staff member could go to, to be able to get assistance.

He also informed the lawyers that they were open to discussions on the role the Law Society could play in this regard.

“From our perspective, what we do see is that there seems to be a lack of mentoring within generally in the private practice. It is very critical,” he said.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum informed the bar and bench members of the changes made in tribunals for better case management.

“As you would have noticed, some of the tribunals that used to be outside the domains of the judiciary is now within the domain of the judiciary. So, the Honorouble Chief Justice now is making appointments in various tribunals which he did not do previously,” he said.

“That includes areas such as the Land Transport Authority, the Employment Relations Tribunal and I think the Immigration too. So the Honourable Chief Justice is now appointing of Magistrates to actually sit on these tribunals, very importantly, in order for us to be able to have good case management, to be able to have a good flow.”

He touched on the issue of ethics in the legal fraternity, where he spoke about the attitude of lawyers towards younger practitioners.

“I think those senior lawyers may have a condescending attitude towards the younger practitioners as they appear before the Masters and we have heard a lot of stories about that, in particular if those practitioners are women. Nearly 90 per cent of practitioners in the SG’s Office are women and you can actually see how lawyers do get treated as females and in particular, by their male counterparts.

“I think it is a combination of probably ageism and also some gender sort of bias.”

In the areas of Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) and mediation, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said Fiji had the potential to be a mini Singapore.

He also reminded the lawyers that the consolidated laws of Fiji would be launched at the A-G’s Conference this Friday, which would make work easier for lawyers and have laws more easily accessible.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

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