By: Hameed Ajibola Jimoh, Esq.
To learn is noble. To learn is a way to guidance. Therefore, as lawyers, ‘learning’ has to be part of our lives to get to a fulfilled legal practice. Some lawyers, immediately being called to bar, are out to seek money rather than seek full knowledge of the law which is acquired through a continuous practical learning. This paper aims at encouraging all lawyers- both young and old- to keep up learning as an enviable tool to a fulfilled legal practice experience in the legal practice, hence, this topic.
Today, with due respect, a number of young lawyers are fond of celebrating Senior Advocates of Nigeria, without learning any practice experience from those legal luminaries that have attained distinctions in the legal practice. Why? They are only after a well-prepared address to usher in the Senior Advocates at fora. Ask what they have learned from those Seniors? The answer will be nothing, practically. Why do our young ones these days allow our seniors or elders to die with their knowledge without learning much or anything from those pieces of knowledge?
Some lawyers or young lawyers have various seniors in their various law offices from whom they could learn but they are too busy to learn the practice of law from them. Whereas, the law is a practice. Some seniors too with due respect to them, might feel that they do not have to learn from their juniors. Learning in nature (in my humble view) does not actually have any respect for age. Wherever you find the knowledge that would be useful for you, you should pick it or learn it. I could remember, when I started my legal/law practice, upon my call to bar, I would always ask seniors and my principals some very topical but intellectual questions, especially, how things are done in the legal practice. When I was in a law office as a junior in chambers, my day of joy was any day that I would have to be in court in the company of my principal (now SAN). I took every office assignment as a means to learning! I picked his legal arguments and manners of practice. That actually helped me in being able to build on such acquired practical knowledge when I established my law office as far back as year 2016 ‘THE VICEGERENT LEGAL CONSULT’. So, as a young lawyer, the first opportunity that you should look for is the opportunity to ‘learn’. A Judge was narrating his experiences at the bar before becoming a Judge of a High Court (though His Lordship is now a Justice of the Court of Appeal) that His Lordship was encouraged by His Lordship’s father to learn the practice of the law in any law office and not about money. His Lordship also stated that the law office that he was to learn, was not ready to offer him any payment as the Principal told him that ‘he has no money to pay him’. His Lordship said that was ‘ok’ with him because the interest was to learn the law. So, why do our young ones of today not consider ‘learning’ as a means to a fulfilled legal practice? This baffles me seriously. The learning through which they would acquire practical knowledge are not imprinted in any book of law. If you ask some of these young lawyers of today, they would probably tell you to forget about ‘learning’ and that ‘money’ is their target because they ought to have built houses, cars and acquired other luxuries by now. What you might hear from some of them is that ‘the economy of the nation is threatening! True! I understand. Nevertheless, looking at the future, with practical knowledge of the legal practice acquired, many doors to opportunities could be open at any time. No wonder ‘quackery’ is rising as a disease in some lawyers (with due respect to them). The only thing some of these lawyers know about is ‘corruption’ and other acts that would undermine the interest and administration of justice.
Anything for money is their interest even if such act is illegal. So, if you as a young lawyer aspires to be a judge or a Senior Advocate, the sky is just the beginning with practical knowledge acquired through a relentless learning. In fact, there are lawyers in this our legal profession that are very intelligent and have acquired adequate and distinctive knowledge of law through practical learning. They themselves have today become masters of the legal practice, though, they chose not to apply to become a SAN. I commend them. There are also, some respected Judges of courts up to the appellate courts that have acquired practical knowledge acquired through practical learning. Today, they have confidence whenever they perform their judicial roles. If you meet some experienced SANs too, you would know the truth about their acquired astounding learning.
I must however state respectfully but finally on this topic, that litigation is not the only practice in the legal profession. There are a number of career opportunities in the legal profession of which litigation is just of them. Therefore, whatever area of law or career that one chooses or aspires, learning is a sine qua non to any fulfilled career. As for me, I thank God for ‘learning’ and I am still learning and will forever keep learning till I die! What about you? If you ask me, it is my aspiration to be one of the best lawyers and one of the best Judges when I become a Judge, by God’s grace. If you as a young lawyer seeks to learn the legal practice and you deem it fit to learn just but a token from me, I am always available, after all.