A retired Lagos State High Court judge, Justice Olusola Williams, says there is a need to deliberately train the support or administrative staff in the Nigerian justice sector to enhance access to justice and achieve faster justice dispensation.
According to Williams, many of the people working as administrative staff in the courts and law firms, being not professional paralegals, do not appreciate the impact that their roles have on justice administration.
Williams, who is the founder of the Institute of Paralegal Services, said this on Tuesday at the institute’s “2nd All Users’ Forum and Induction Ceremony,” in the Ikeja GRA, Lagos State.
The ceremony witnessed the presentation of certificates to four inductees, including a magistrate, Shotobi Adedayo, and eight awardees.
The inductees and awardees received certificates in areas such as General Paralegal Services; Research and Library Services; and Law Office Administration.
An inductee, Zaliha Usman, was awarded the prize for the best graduating student at the ceremony, which had the Chairman, Punch Nigeria Limited, Mrs Angela Emuwa, as special guest.
Speaking on the idea behind the Institute of Paralegal Services, Williams said she observed during her travels to other jurisdictions, including the United Kingdom and Canada, that administrative work in the court and law firms were being handled by paralegals, as opposed to Nigeria where it is an “all-comers sort of thing.”
“If we have them in Nigeria, they will make the work of lawyers and judges easier and improve access to justice,” Williams said.
She commended the sponsors of the inductees and awardees for investing in them, noting that the institute was spreading its tentacles beyond Lagos State.
In her remarks, a faculty member of the Institute of Paralegal Services, Mrs Ayodele Odugbesan, said the inductees and awardees were the first set of Nigerian paralegals.
Odugbesan commended the wisdom in the poem ‘Desiderata’ written by Max Ehrmann to the paralegals.
“Speak the truth quietly and fairly; listen to others – your work as paralegals requires a lot of this,” she said.
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