By Hameed Ajibola Jimoh, Esq.
Upon being called to the Bar and upon enrollment by a lawyer, there seem to be a great confusion as to what and what is or are next to be done.
While some young lawyers regard all that worth to be done is anything that would fetch money for them (perhaps due to the economic hardship in the nation). Some out of frustration decide to go for their Master’s degree in law, some of the young lawyers consider Master’s degree as the one and only option to a greater height for them. So, where some young lawyers do not have a Master’s degree, they view and or see themselves as not fulfilled in the legal profession and only suffer inferiority. This paper is aimed at giving a candid advice for young lawyers to aspire to be masters in whatever area or field of the legal profession that they profess or find themselves even where they have no master’s degree.
Young lawyers in my humble view need to be focused and passionate in their aspiration. A young lawyer must look into the area or field of law that he has passion in or for and this would lead him to a greater height.
For instance, if a lawyer intends to practise in a private legal practice, he should find a law office that practises in the area of law (s) that he aspires in. Assuming such a young lawyer desires to be in corporate practice, he is not advised to continue to engage in litigation (he should rather find his corporate practice area), even though it is generally said that a lawyer is qualified as a litigation lawyer but the truth is that not every lawyer can fit into litigation. Therefore, the young lawyer should sit down and ponder on the area of law that he aspires in. Over time and with determination and forbearance, he would become a master in that field.
At this point in time, money would continue to look for him through clients who would require his professionalism. Take for instance, the Court has advised clients on the choice of lawyer that he makes where he engages the services of an incompetent lawyer (for instance, engaging a corporate lawyer or property/real estate lawyer in a litigation matter) as such client bears the liability of such lawyer as the court held thus in the case of ‘RIVTRUST SECURITIES LTD & ORS v. AMCON (2019) LPELR-47966(CA) “It has to be remembered that a party is bound by the professionalism of his counsel cum onere: OWNERS OF M.V. BACO LINER vs. ADENIJI (1993) 2 NWLR (PT 274) 194 at 204. The rule should be “caveat client”, you sink or swim with your choice of counsel. See AKANBI vs. ALAO (1989) 3 NWLR (PT 108) 143 and COUNTY & CITY BRICKS DEVT CO LTD vs. HON. MINISTER OF ENVIRONMENT HOUSING & URBAN DEVT. (2019) LPELR (46548) 1 at 35-37.” Per OGAKWU, J.C.A. (P. 24, Paras. C-E)’.
Therefore, in my humble view, where a lawyer does not intend to be in the field of academics, he needs not bother himself about taking Masters’ degree rather, if for instance, he aspires to be in private practice, he needs to associate with law firms or senior lawyers from whom he can acquire experiences in the private legal practice. And if he aspires public service, he should work towards that aspiration at the earlier time of his being a lawyer because it is better for him to get employed and rise therein at the earlier time than later.
Furthermore, as much as I am concerned, I have said it and I shall say it again that though, I am still a learner, I have chosen the part of litigation in the legal profession. I have over sixty (60) cases in court at: Magistrate Courts, Area Courts, District Courts, Federal High Court, High Court of Federal Capital Territory-Abuja, Court of Appeal of Nigeria and an appeal at the Supreme Court of Nigeria as well as matters before some administrative tribunals, in both civil and criminal matters with over two (200) hundred appearances. I aspire to be at the Bench as a Judge of High Court at my ten (10) years of being a lawyer or as may be decided by God Almighty, I shall remain in the private legal practice as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria. I have therefore decided to offer free consultation for any young lawyer that desires or deem me fit to provide guidance on his legal issues or challenges. This to me is a great pleasure. More so, even I still seek guidance from seniors in the legal profession.
So, I am still a learner but I feel regardless of that, I could still offer some pieces of legal advice/guidance to young lawyers that deserve to be led aright in the litigation practice. This is not a pride but a means of giving glory to God Almighty. It might be difficult, but since I have found passion (in the high degree) in litigation, I continue to tread that part of litigation till I’m accomplished or I am fulfilled, by God’s grace.
Therefore, it is my humble advice that young lawyers need to really discover where their passion lies and what they actually desire in the legal profession.
Before I round off on this topic, I must correct a misunderstanding about litigation. Some persons are of the view that there is no money in the litigation. With due respect to this proponent, I beg to disagree with this view. It is my humble and contrary view that there is indeed unimagined money in litigation that pays off in the long run (though it might be difficult but with focus and determination as well as prayers), it would pay, in fact, heavily.
According to a report, a lawyer got a brief and got paid over eighty (80) million naira. Also, a lawyer in another report was paid billions of naira in litigation practices. These are not jokes but realities! There are also many and many more of good stories of lawyers who were poor in the morning till around 11:59am o’clock in the morning and by 12noon, became either millionaires or billionaires! These lawyers later became the masters of their field of litigation.
Finally, I candidly advice young lawyers to remain focused, passionate, determined and prayerful in their aspiration, seek mentorship from those seniors that would sincerely advise them and to be prayerful as with God, all things are possible. The economic challenges should make them strong and not weak as very soon, they shall become masters of their field or area of practice by their acquired practical legal experiences and even where they have no Master’s degree!