Zimbabwe is chock-a-block with dishonest lawyers – at least, that’s the impression the national law society is giving by putting 400 lawyers on a list of those currently under investigation.
Thirty-two per cent of Zimbabwe’s 1,240 lawyers are currently being investigated for fraud and corruption by the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ).
Last year, the LSZ stripped four lawyers of their stripes and closed three law firms for failing to uphold ethical standards and for cheating the public.
Several lawyers have also been convicted, including Simbarashe Tsaurai, who was given jail time for stealing $35,000 from clients.
LSZ president Lloyd Mhishi told Zimbabwe's The Herald that the society was acting in response to the large number of complaints against lawyers.
A number of law firms appeared to be stealing from trust accounts, over-billing clients and failing to maintain proper books of accounts, according to Mhishi.
He said the LSZ has directed its secretariat to perform random spot checks to enforce compliance with regulations.
Mhishi added that creditors were also starting to complain about lawyers not meeting payments: “Quite a number of lawyers seem to be living beyond their means. Some members have accumulated personal debts which appear to be too high and they have failed to pay back,” he said.
He also put in a word about unfair labour practices, saying “Members are reminded that failure to pay salaries and wages to staff members is an act of unprofessional conduct”.
Folklaw is glad it doesn’t live in a country where the president of the Law Society has to sternly remind members that their employees need to eat.