By Hameed Ajibola Jimoh, Esq.
The private legal practice-hereinafter referred to as PLP- is a business oriented practice in true sense and just as every other business, there is high level of competition among those in the PLP, the quack/fake lawyers, those lawyers in the public service but that would still wish to illegally and unlawfully still engage in the PLP at the same time as they also engage in the public service.
That is why upon becoming a lawyer, it becomes very uneasy for lawyers who do not have the usual ‘connection’ or ‘know someone in authority or in charge’ syndrome to succeed except God intervenes in such lawyers’ life/practice to succeed in the PLP, hence, the title of this paper.
Young lawyers need to understand the great challenge that exists in the PLP so that it would help them to choose their career(s) in the legal profession carefully without wasting much of their time. Also, considering some of the Nigerian corrupt situations, it is hardly realistic to even secure a retainership with a company or firm for legal services without the usual ‘connection’ or ‘know someone in authority or in charge’ syndrome except God intervenes. Even securing retainership with government’s Ministries or Agencies or Departments requires the so called usual ‘connection’ or ‘know someone in authority or in charge’ syndrome except God intervenes.
For some years now, I had made some applications for retainership to both private bodies and government’s body but it seemed as waste of time without having the so called usual ‘connection’ or ‘know someone in authority or in charge’ syndrome while I have got no single call on any of my applications till date.
It really requires God’s intervention for me to really sustain my PLP practice for the past six (6) years of operating my private law office- THE VICEGERENT LEGAL CONSULT
The issue of having clients (customers in other words) is not different from the challenge that some business owners or traders or merchants usually have in term of customers to the extent that some of them would have to consult voodoo to succeed in their business except those who are devoted to God Almighty. one can imagine working for six (6) years without any monthly salary or allowance!
Furthermore, the PLP though wide in terms of areas and or fields, requires extending the legal services to those clients that require them or need them. Whereas too, the Rules of Professional Conducts for Legal Practitioners, 2007-herein after referred to as RPC- has some regulations against advertisement, soliciting and touting. Therefore, the difficulty becomes harder on young lawyers who would intend to operate their PLP. It is then my humble advice that to sustain the PLP, one requires to move closer to God Almighty (with prayers and to try his best) and the difficulty should not compel any such lawyer to seek voodoo or supernatural means of gaining success as that is indeed a long way to success.
Truly, a lawyer requires to enjoy materials of life too from his only source of income (i.e. the PLP) such as: having a house of his own; having vehicle(s) of his own; and making provisions for his family, entirely settling down, etc. In my own case, what I would say is that God should continue to bless those senior lawyers that he has blessed me with for their supports in many ways.
Also, young lawyers need to know those challenges in the PLP before venturing into it and learn the manners of operation so that they do not end up as ’common criminals’ doing all sought of illegal and or criminal and or corrupt life and or and or unethical practice which might end up destroying the whole of their career(s). What I really advise young lawyers that intend to establish PLP of their own is to remain focused and sometimes too, life is about risk-taking.
I could remember in my own case (though, my operation of my office was indeed God’s calling) when I established my PLP of my own i.e. THE VICEGERENT LEGAL CONSULT- sometimes around the year 2016 (which I operate till date by my calculation), I had started with no one single client! It took me few months before I could get a client whose case was even a pro bono criminal appeal to the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory-Abuja, against the decision of an Area Court. Also, with the aid of public interest litigation and human rights activism (and as time goes on, some other few clients started coming on board), I was able to (though with God Almighty) manage and cope with the trying times till date and just like a joke, it is surprising that it is now six (6) years (to my calculation) of establishment. I give all the Glories to God Almighty. It was indeed His Will that I should establish the law office and engage in the PLP.
He is the one that has always been sustaining the office and my PLP too, because, sincerely, I cannot and I could not have done anything without God’s support.
Furthermore, sustaining the PLP in this period of the pandemic Covid-19 is a great contest. I would continue to remember and pray for those persons, philanthropists, Senior Advocates of Nigeria, etc., who God has used to hold me tightly to be able to withstand the negative financial impacts of the Covid-19 which has stayed with us in Nigeria for a year and above and may God continue to sustain them all too.
This pandemic period is such a period that PLP is likely to struggle to remain on its feet if not for God. I prefer relying on God for all my needs for to my belief, God is the most-Constant and Eternal as well as Most-Merciful in all ramifications. It is the same belief in God that I advise young lawyers who wish to make their career in the PLP to have so that with God Almighty, they would be able sustain their PLP without fear or pessimism.
Finally, in my humble view and from my few experiences in the PLP and as a Sole Practitioner of my office, sustaining the PLP in Nigeria without the usual ‘connection’ or ‘know someone in authority or in charge’ syndrome is really a great difficulty except God intervenes. I pray that God continue to intervene in all our affairs. This is at least a truth and the reality that must be told.