by Sandra Nwadi, Esq. BL. MBA. APNM
I do strongly believe that the NBA, our rules and our legal system generally needs overhauling in addition to the fact that, I personally like how lawyers in first world countries can actually, properly advertise in certain and almost, very fluid, flexible ways. I note the yearnings and wishes of many lawyers and need for a change. I hope it comes soon.
I want it really done.
It’s essential that I mention that I am glad and I love that our NBA president, Mr Olumide Akpata is a forward, progressive and quick thinker who also, is already working hard on many issues and at the same time, involving several people and committees in the administration to get things done or issues solved. Pragmatic and inclusive. As should be and I’m hopeful for more works, reviews and changes to be done. Even more hopeful, the future president also carries on with it. Time flies and soon, another election will show up.
Many of the current things or “culture” or events going on in Nigeria and many aspects of our legal system *no longer serves us* and I mean for instance, in advertising, finances and other legal, professional issues.
Plus, reduce unnecessary restrictions in some jobs, choices and earnings.
Let people and authorities put the word out there.
We need to step up and stay afloat especially concerning law or legal advertising and marketing.
For instance, subject to reviews and even court checks, countries like America and some of it’s state bars, Italy, Germany, Israel, Britain, under the EU, Spain and France use varying tools to advertise, Canada, Australia, etc allow advertising and sometimes, in more surprising ways though still following sets of rules or more professionally reviewed but (open minded) limits.
Lawyers or firms in many countries are not stifled and are some how seen or known if they choose to go beyond their online presence on for instance, LinkedIn or office sign post, referrals or known legal jobs done.
There are other related articles that can be found or simply getting in touch with lawyers in other cou tries to give more information on what is accepted, reviewed or changed in their system.
Indeed and ironically, we already have judgements, court cases, rulings and judgments, etc put online or streamed live and even conferences, workshops, etc online or just saved up for constant clicks and viewing. So, advertising should not be out of place or feel weird especially if within some styles. What we have seems absurd, archaic and non-existent.
On standard finances: Why is it taking so long to work on and come up with something that works for all lawyers especially concerning legal fees, agency fees, percentage, etc. It’s not an impossible task. If professionals or professions like Estate management, estate surveyors, pharmacists, etc have rules,ethics or stipulated laws stating that their professionals would be paid a certain fee or not less than a certain fee for doing this and that work. The world and the nation sees how things are done and so can tell most issues aren’t alright with our lawyers- infact, so many citizens try to belittle lawyers or pay little or nothing or mock lawyers. It becomes tempting for a struggling lawyer at times (especially now that things have become worse financially and economically for our citizens in Nigeria) those with no standards to accept trash from the public. This should not be so. Reviews can and should be made at both national and branch levels. I know some talks and changes have started in certain places, firms, branches etc but wholistically, it should be more and upgraded.
How about issues that come with cases or trial de novo or court cases; starting afresh… I believe something can be done especially when one looks at the mental torture, financial expenses, etc on litigants or clients and even lawyers. You see cases sort of stagnant or hanging because judges have been transferred, ill, dead, etc and sometimes, restarted more than two times in a space of 6 years. We speak of too many adjournmentsand elongated litigation periods or when courts with no notification don’t sit for a day or days, It all stalls justice and makes me fremember at times, clients giving up and discontinuing certain cases when adjournments become too much or cases restarted.
It sincerely doesn’t help clients and it’s also bad for the economy, wellbeing, etc of lawyers too if things are stalled or restarted many times. Our judiciary also seems over worked and understaffed and that may affect quick and stable justice delivery. Nothing is impossible and something can be done when one looks into issues of stagnant proceedings or cases seemingly restarting too many times.
There are many issues to be talked about from solving divisive, past or ongoing problems in branches that puts lawyers in a bad light to the issues concerning independence of the judiciary. It all cannot be exhausted in one write up but we all do know that all is truly not well. Some other people have written on these issues or at conferences or even given suggestions and it can be great to look into them and make changes. I remember lawyers including SANs like Femi Falana, and Yemi Candide-Johnson, Hauwa Shekerau, Ebun Adegboruwa, Funke Adekoya, etc making several observations, suggestions, etc at interviews, conferences, online platforms, etc and these could really be used. Maybe, there are issues with being organised and then, implementation is also part of our issues. We actually have too many bright minds to let our system lag behind or be stagnant.
Furthermore, the aspect and culture of referring to everyone as men or gentlemen doesn’t augur well and should be looked into because no matter the reason, equity excuses, etc it speaks a lot of both direct and indirect sexism, patriarchy, etc.
Again, how many progressive and pragmatic countries and legal system still refer to everyone as men or says women aren’t in the system and all that stuff while indirectly or directly acknowledging the inequalities, harassment, unfairness, etc that exist in the legal system, society and any country’s governance. It’s 2021. What are we telling the world, our own Nigerian citizens, the young boys and girls, non-lawyers, etc with these cultures and rules we carry on with and even make jokes about at official and non-official events. Evaluation matters. There was a reason why these archaic and somewhat toxic cultures or ethics were started when one looks at history but then, we have evolved and should evolve.
The brightest minds in other professions question these and so do fellow lawyers in other countries. It’s all too ironic and obsolete to carry on with certain things even if it looms or seems harmless.
➡️One thing I know for sure has to be that as we lawyers want to make changes in country and our various communities, we also need to look inwards, make changes for our lawyers and our own legal system; be less obsolete, be less toxic, be pragmatic, heal thyself and lift ourselves up. We need to look out for ourselves.
There’s a lot to work on security of citizens and especially lawyers and judicial officers to welfare of lawyers to accountability. I’d written and spoke about most of these too at certain times.
Reviews and changes are good and nothing is impossible…we can set our minds and committees and sit together, make decisions and change. Execute and implement too. We hold on too long to obsolete, toxic, archaic, etc aspects that doesnt serve both lawyers and non-lawyers. We should ask why we cant help ourselves or change. Other countries in all their past and existing imperfections and struggles, also worked on themselves or made progressive changes to work for their lawyers or citizens and basically keep up to global standards. As should be..
I’m impressed with aspects or changes in some countries I have lived in and truly need same or better in our nation or legal system or for our lawyers in private practice, public, company,etc.
By Sandra Nwadi, Esq. BL. MBA. APNM
(Legal Practitioner, writer, composer, human rights advocate, Feminist, leadership and all-round advocate, etc. In between Nigeria and London, email@example.com)