The issue of impersonators in the legal profession keeps emanating almost daily and there has always been the question as to how to identify any of such impersonators? This act of impersonating a lawyer by non-lawyers (with criminal intent) has been recurrent even despite the (now repealed and or deleted) Rule 10 of the Rule of Professional Conducts for Legal Practitioners, 2007 which mandated lawyers to affix seal and stamp issued by the Nigerian Bar Association on legal docuemtns emanating from them (legal documents referred to in this paper includes: pleadings, affidavits, depositions, applications, instruments, agreements, deeds, letters, memoranda, reports, legal opinions or any similar documents)! Many of such persons are still in the market transacting legal practice despite not being licensed as lawyers to do so! This paper aims at a strategy in discovering any of these miscreants, hence, this topic.
It is my humble submission and advice that every lawyer in either public or private practice/institution (if we are ready to take over what belongs to us (i.e. the legal practice) from the impersonators) must be at alert and observant in discovering these miscreants. In fact, I have realized that it is very easy to discover these impersonators than one could imagine but just that some of us as lawyers might feel not interested or not bothered by the need to allow all hands to be on deck! One of my recommendations at the discovery is for every lawyer served with any legal document purportedly emanating from another lawyer to use the search a lawyer search engine on the website of the Nigerian Bar Association-herein after referred to as NBA. This would at least assure you that you are dealing with a genuine lawyer. Documents served on clients too can be verified as truly emanating from a lawyer.
Furthermore, where the name of such lawyer purportedly either signing a legal document or issuing such legal document as a lawyer is not on the website of the NBA, then, there is a suspicion to an extent which can be verified by approaching the National Secretariat of the NBA situate in Abuja or the Branch of the NBA within the State where the lawyer’s address indicates that he practises from or to conduct a search with the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court of Nigeria (where necessary) for verification of the authenticity of the lawyer whose name is identified on the said legal document. After this, if the suspicion is correct, then, necessary criminal complaints can be lodged with the appropriate law enforcement agency either by the lawyer or by the client.
It is my belief that this brief paper would assist in sanitizing the legal profession from the evasion of miscreants!