255 lawyers have their careers hanging on a thread


Farai Kuvirimirwa Herald Reporter
Harare: At least 255 lawyers have their careers hanging on a thread following allegations of engaging in malpractice, the Law Society of Zimbabwe has said.
Three lawyers were recently delisted from the legal practitioners’ roll and four law firms were closed following allegations of malpractice and abuse of trust funds.
In an interview after a presentation at the Quill Club in Harare recently,  LSZ president Mr Lloyd Mhishi said they have received 310 complaints against legal practitioners across the country so far this year.
“We have prioritised clearing disciplinary cases at the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal (LPDT). We received 310 new complaints this year. Of these, 65 cases have been completed.
“Prevalent cases were those of failure to account for trust funds and a client has the right to be given trust funds upon request. There is also a high number of complaints on legal practitioners who accept instructions for small collections. They successfully do so and end up billing much more than what they would have collected,” said Mr Mhishi.
He said unfair labour practices at law firms and failure to pay back credit facilities from banks were some of the complaints brought to the attention of LSZ.
“The failure to pay salaries and wages to staff members is an act of unprofessional conduct. Various forms of credit were advanced to practitioners because they were considered to be in a noble profession but an unusually high number have defaulted.
“We have received complaints from banks, furniture stores, money lenders and also nonpayment of rentals. We urge legal practitioners to live within their means,” said Mr Mhishi.
He said legal practitioners should not delay cases before courts as a way of maximising revenue they receive from clients.
LSZ executive secretary Mr Edward Mapara said lawyers must charge tariffs that were approved by the mother body.
When asked on Mr Goodwills Masimirembwa’s re-registration status, he said: “We realised he is not fully rehabilitated and cannot re-register him. His college offers up to diploma level and legal practitioners should hold a degree obtained from an institution that suits our standards.
“Currently two universities are offering the degree programmes for lawyers and we have since received an application from another tertiary institution.”

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