General Tips on How to attain Excellence in the Legal Profession  

 By Yusuf Ali, SAN
 
Yusuf Olaolu Ali
 
 
It is a lawyer who has succeeded in the law profession that is likely to become a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN.

Success as used here is not in terms of financial stand, but rather in terms of professional qualification and ability to deliver good legal services to clients. It is therefore pertinent to state at this point, general tips that could assist serious lawyers to succeed in the Legal profession.

These tips are as stated below:

Law is a helping profession. Help others without looking for something in return. The simple fact is that effective networking means thinking about ways you can help your classmates, your colleagues and your friends with their own career  goals. Be generous with your own relationships and contacts and you will build a large reservoir of goodwill for when you need help.

People want to help you. Graciously give them the opportunity to do so. “Everything good that happened to me came from others”, said Winkler. As far as he is concerned, there’s no such thing as climbing the ladder of success. Success comes from getting a hand from above to help you up the ladder.

Respect your elders. Respect your younger ones. Respect those of the same age. Respect your peers. Basically, treat everyone with kindness and respect.Regardless of their social status, educational levels or financial ratings.

Make new friends and keep the old. Effective business development is really all about relationship.Classmates from law school go on to become clients and sources of referral business. The same is true of your colleagues at work and other friends in the legal profession. Maintain these relationships throughout your career. 

Be loyal. Loyalty begets loyalty. Be loyal to your organisation. Be loyal to your colleagues. Be loyal to your clients. loyal to the profession. Above all be loyal to the cause of justice and yourself.

Do not exaggerate. Do not mislead the court.  Your professional reputation and integrity are your badges of identification. Once judges or colleagues believe you’re unreliable, you are finished. A lawyer that misleads the court or even his colleagues is not only committing professional misconduct but also professional self- immolation.

Be a mentor. Mentoring is a two-way street and you are never too old or too young to have or be a mentor. When you mentor, it’s a two-way matter. Your mentee gains and you also gain. Sharing knowledge has social and religious benefits. 

Always go to events early. That way the next person who comes in has to meet you and they will most likely remember you. Lateness to events and programs is a hallmark of a dis-organised person. You are better able to plan your time when you arrive at events before time. It is sacrilegious to cultivate the attitude of going late to court. You end up dis-organised and incoherent in your presentation.

Join organisations and speak at any events you are asked to. Winkler said he often got new client that way. The caveat to this is that you must talk only when you have something tangible to contribute to the discourse. Avoid making inappropriate comments. 


If you have no work, go to your office anyway. You never know what will crop up. You should have a structured time of attendance in your office. Time for resumption must be well known and adhered to.

Avoid ad-hoc arrangement.

Take advice from people around you.Never turn yourself to all- knowing king Solomon. Be a good listener. Understand the drift of a discussion before you contribute. In Legal matters, consult colleagues if in doubt about the position of the Law whether on procedural or substantive law. Never gamble with the law.

 Integrity.  A lawyer’s Integrity is of vital concern to the community. In these days when honesty is in short supply in our clime, a lawyer needs rock solid reputation to succeed. Clients only feel comfortable with a lawyer they can trust implicitly.

 Be just at all times. The best way to disarm your enemy is to do what is just under all circumstances. Justice is the minimum thing a lawyer should pursue at all times and in all transactions. Fairness, Justice, equity, openness, transparency, good naturedness are some of the qualities any lawyer hoping to excel must take along in his practice of the Law. 


To be a good lawyer,  you must first be a a good man.

This article is an excerpt from a speech delivered  by Mr Yusuf Ali SAN at a Symposium organised by the Muslim Lawyers’ Association of Nigeria, Lagos Branch held on 8th October, 2016.

Mr Ali was conferred with the prestigious and title of Senior Advocate of Nigeria, S.A.N, in 19

3 comments

  1. NNAMDI

    This is Educating

    1. Adeniji David Olabode

      I align myself with the opinion of the learned silk.

      1. Michael Esso

        Very encouraging words.food for thought

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