HOW YOUNG LAWYERS CAN SURVIVE AND THRIVE, BY UDEMEZUE

In this paper presented at the FAMA FIRM virtual conference on “Contemporary issues facing the welfare of young lawyers in Nigeria and possible solutions” by fiery Law Teacher, SYLVESTER UDEMEZUE, he strives to plot a roadmap for Nigeria’s young lawyers on how to surmount the myriad of challenges besetting them in the legal services industry.

NIGERIAN YOUNG LAWYERS, THEIR MANY CHALLENGES, AND THE WAY OUT OF THE DOLDRUMS

At the FAMA FIRM’s LAW WEBINAR where the problems and welfare of the Nigerian young lawyer took the Centre stage, I (as a one of the main speakers) tried to identify some of the problems facing the young lawyer in Nigeria, and I made efforts to also advance some recommendations on the way out of the doldrums, in the best interest of young lawyers and the law profession.

For the many challenges the young lawyer faces in Nigeria, I respectfully held the following people and organizations blameful/responsible (each to a certain degree):

1. The Young Lawyer himself/Herself— Lack of proper orientation on the things that really matter within and outside the profession; obsession with inane materialism; excessive greed; acute impatience; lack of proper commitment and self-preparation; low self-development efforts; poor reading culture; obsession with negative comparison; lack of objectiveness in decision-making during Bar elections which leads, sometimes, to enthronement of wrong leaders; failure or refusal to cooperate with, or support incumbent Bar leaderships at all levels; mentality of over-dependence on others (looking for apple instead of focusing on learning how to pluck the apples yourself); improper packaging (your packaging determines the level of treatment you get from others); improper focus on money instead of work which is what would eventually yield you greater dividends; excessive desperation; lack of humility; engagement in delinquent behaviors; distorted and disjointed attitude to life and value system, selfishness and egoism, etc.

2. The Society in which the young lawyer has found himself/herself — bad and corrupt governance, gullible and docile followership, degraded society, poor economy, social dislocation, low support infrastructure, etc.

3. Successive leadership of the Bar Association over the years — failure of NBA leaderships to work hard to stop/reduce incessant encroachment into the legal practice space by non-lawyers; failure to initiate necessary legal reforms that would ensure expansion of the employment base for legal practitioners in order to create more employment and make lawyers more relevant to society (most lawyers look for work only in law firms thereby creating more pressure and are subjected to undue exploitation, harassment, and poor treatment, etc: law firms would appreciate and pay lawyers more (to discourage them from leaving) if the firms see fewer lawyers to employ); NBA has not focused on the real needs of the young lawyer (trying to fix a minimum wage for privately-owned Law firms is mere pursuit of the impossible; come off it and focus on the realizable, more beneficial things); segregation and division within the various segments of the profession lead to acrimony and lack of proper focus; NBA and its members give very little support to legal education institutions in Nigeria; failure to secure a better deal for lawyers in the society, compared to members of other professions (medical profession has a better deal because their leadership had worked for it), NBA has not created proper avenues for robust engagement and deliberations on the challenges facing the young lawyer and the profession in general (except in few instances, the periods and sessions during NBA Annual Conferences are usually entirely dissipated/wasted on discussing matters that have little or NO relevance to the welfare and promotion of lawyers, the legal profession and the young lawyers in particular; we won’t know how to solve our problems if we don’t have proper avenues of identifying and and discussing them comprehensively); etc

4. Employers of (Law) Labour — sexual and other harassment by bosses due partly to desperation and improper conduct (dressing, etc) on the part of young lawyers, and also due to the randy nature of some employers; undue exploitation by employers; improper/inadequate remuneration and welfare packages for employees; unconducive work environment; lack of proper involvement, engagement, poor employer leadership examples, poor employee-motivation etc.

5. Our Learned Senior Colleagues — incessant intimidation and bullying of young lawyers which tend to put the young lawyers off, discourage them and sometimes frustrate them out of the profession; most of our seniors don’t lead by good example, most seniors don’t provide proper support and encouragement to juniors, selfishness by seniors, etc.

6. Educational Institutions—- starting from secondary schools and universities, we need to take education of our youth much more seriously; Council of Legal Education (CLE) should tighten the noose on Law Faculties to force them to re-double their efforts at training lawyers; Guidance and Counseling should be made a necessary part of the curriculum both at the secondary and university level, and indeed all levels, etc.

7. Regulatory Institutions within the legal profession— each regulator hardly lives up to its responsibilities and the expectations of lawyers generally , inefficiency and corruptions, nepotism, little or no partnership among core regulators, etc.

8. Individual Luck: Not everyone would be rich or well-to-do; if you try to be faster than your shadow, you may crash. Hard work is a condition precedent to success; but not everyone who works hard that must succeed. Accordingly, while you work hard to be the best, try and make allowance for some failure or ill-luck because you don’t know what the future holds in store for you. Hope and work for the best, but be prepared for the worst, sometimes; life might not be a bed of roses; challenges are a part of life. Our destinies aren’t the same. Learn how to approach failure and delays. Some were born great; some have greatness foisted upon them; but some must work very hard to achieve greatness. Yet, there are others who spent an entire lifetime working for greatness, but unsuccessfully; such is life. If you lose sight of this fact, you may miss your steps.

9. Parents and Guardians: not everyone is cut out to be a lawyer; some force their children or wards on the profession; let parents subject their children and wards for proper guidance and counseling before allowing them to study law. Don’t push your child to study law; let the decision be wholly voluntary, based on proper counseling. Some lawyers HAVE NO BUSINESS coming into the profession. They just can’t cope, however anyone tries to help them. They’re square pegs in round holes; Legal Missorts!

10. Poor Justice Administration System: corrupting, ineptitude and especially chronic delays in justice dispensation in Nigeria are a great source of frustration and discouragement for the young lawyers.
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I proffered a number of solutions, which are contained in my paper (to be shared shortly). I then concluded: the solution to the young lawyer’s problems must begin (but not end) with the young lawyer himself/herself: an altogether new mode of thinking; improved reading culture; hard work; more commitment to the profession and work; patience; selflessness; radical reorientation; eschew materialism and negative comparative analysis; the dependence-mentality; focus all your energy on work, not money, and money will come; proper self-packaging (you don’t need much money to properly package/market yourself; but you need proper packaging to get the money you need, and to make it in the profession); develop the attitude of selfless service (how you serve others determines how far you can go in the profession); personal development; networking; flee from all forms of evil because KARMA and RETRIBUTION are REAL; stay away from money politics during bar elections so you can get the right leadership,; support every incumbent NBA leadership (even if your candidate during elections lost/loses the election (it a civic responsibility), etc.

As I have said, I will make my paper available for public consumption and to continue the discussion.

Respectfully,
Sylvester Udemezue (udems)

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YLF CHAIR, TOP UK ATTORNEY, UDEMEZUE TACKLE YOUNG LAWYERS’ WELFARE TOMORROW

Vocal Nigerian Law School Senior Lecturer, Mr. Sylvester Udemezue will tomorrow square up with a leading United Kingdom attorney, Prof. Suzanne Rab and President of the Nigerian Bar Association Young Lawyers Forum (NBA-YLF) Council, Mr. Tobi Adebowale to discuss the vexed issue of welfare of young lawyers.

The event is a virtual conference hosted by top Kaduna based law firm, Fama Firm and titled “Contemporary issues facing the welfare of young lawyers in Nigeria and possible solutions.” The two-hour roundtable which promises to be highly engaging will kick off at 1:30 pm.

The other panelists include Mr. Idris Mohammed, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (UK) and Managing Partner of FAMA FIRM as well as Adeline Owusua Asante, a Ghanaian attorney with Accra based Integrated Legal Consultants. The webinar will be moderated by Zainab Mohammad Bello, Pro-bono Coordinator at FAMA FIRM.

Participants are required to register for the webinar at https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_0L6m2ioQTaycWsqG4dLn-w or www.famafirm.com/webinar.

Rab has the uncommon distinction of having been admitted to the bar of England and Wales both as a barrister and solicitor. She is also admitted as a solicitor in Ireland. She has wide experience of EU law and competition law matters combining cartel regulation, commercial practices, IP exploitation, merger control, public procurement and State aid. 

Rab’s practice has a particular focus on the interface between competition law and economic regulation. She advises governments, regulators and businesses across the regulated sectors including in the communications, energy, financial services, healthcare/ pharmaceuticals, TMT and water sectors. She has significant experience of advising on the development, implementation and application of new competition laws and regulatory regimes in line with international best practices, including in emerging markets.

In private practice as a solicitor for 15 years prior to joining the bar, she has held positions at magic circle and leading international antitrust practices. Most recently she was an antitrust partner with a leading US practice. She has also held the role of director at PricewaterhouseCoopers working within its strategy, economics and forensics teams.

A respected author, Rab is a Consulting Editorial Board member for LexisNexis Competition; Visiting Professor, Imperial College Business School, Intellectual Property and Antitrust; Member, Advisory Board of the Oxford Regulatory Policy Institute (RPI), and a Member of Editorial Board of Competition Law Insight Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

She has been described by Who’s Who Legal UK Bar as “among the best” in the energy field according to sources who commend her “tenacity, technical excellence and enthusiasm”. The Legal 500/Chambers & Partners describes her as “Recommended for her experience acting for governments, regulators and businesses on EU regulation,” adding that “Solicitors praise her for her superior client service .…” On its part, Who’s Who Legal UK Bar: Competition describes the leading attorney as having “superb knowledge of the law”, “creative approach to problem solving” and a “hard-working nature.”

Mohammed has extensive interest in Telecommunication law and Corporate and Commercial Law, having pursued both interests at post-graduate level. He also has extensive experience in Arbitration. He is reputed as an accomplished litigator and appellate court lawyer, and has written several briefs at the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal. His experience cuts across Telecommunications Law, Arbitration, Litigation & Appellate Practice.

He has consulted for such A-List technology companies like Swap Technologies & Telecomms Plc, American Towers Corporation Nigeria Ltd, Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services Limited (Etisalat), Huawei Technologies Nigeria Limited, MainOne Cable Company Ltd, Sparkwest Industries, Starcomms Plc and Helios Towers Nigeria.

Mohammed successfully represented a Nigerian tower company before an adhoc arbitral panel in a claim of $65 Million Dollars against a major telecommunications company, and is currently representing clients in a N1.2 Billion damages claim against a multinational company and a N650 million contract claim against a state government.

His practice areas include Telecommunications Law, Arbitration, Litigation And Appellate Practice, And Corporate/Commercial Law.

FAMA FIRM is reputed as “one of the leading commercial law firms in Northern Nigeria.” The firm provides legal services in diverse areas, and is “highly dynamic, service oriented, principally focused on fulfilling client’s need.”

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AJIBADE SPEAKS ON VIRTUAL CLE, AS ‘CLASS OF ’89’ HOLD WEBINAR

Leading Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) presidential aspirant, Dr. Babatunde Ajibade SAN will be on a familiar turf today as he speaks to his classmates and other stakeholders on the prospects of online mandatory continuing legal education (CLE).

Listed as one of the discussants for the virtual conference slated for 2 pm, Ajibade has gained renown as a cerebral lawyer and leading facilitator of continuing legal education in the legal industry.

Organised by the Nigerian Law School Class of 1989, an accredited NBA CLE Service Provider, the theme of the virtual conference is “Online Continuing Legal Education (e-CLE) in the COVID-19 Era and Beyond: Challenges, Benefits and Prospects.” Prospective participants are required to register for the free virtual conference at https://us04web.zoom.us/meeting/register/upMlc-yspzosH9yXkq67siifyduRZ0HcPaLD After registering, participants will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Other discussants are Mr. Emeka Albert, Chairman of the Nigerian Law School Class of 1989 and acclaimed Toronto, Canada based attorney and Managing Partner of Topmarke Attorney LLP, Oluwakemi Oduwole. She was formerly a Lecturer at the Nigerian Law School.

Moderated by Chief Osuala E. Nwagbara, General Secretary of the Class of 1989 and Managing Partner at Maritime and Commercial Law Partners, the conference is, according to a statement by Albert “the first in a series of webinars aimed at opening up vital conversations among lawyers on mentoring, CLE and support to the Nigerian Law School. Dr. Ajibade, being a strong supporter of the cause of our Class, is expected to provide uncommon insights on the subject consistent with his experience and track record.”

Ajibade is the Managing Partner of S. P. A. Ajibade & Co. He was called to the Nigerian Bar in December 1989 and elevated to the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria in December 2007. He was the first member of his Nigerian Law School set of 1989 to take silk.

Ajibade obtained a Bachelor of Law degree from the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) in 1988. He obtained a Master of Laws degree in Corporate and Commercial Law from King’s College, University of London in 1990 and a Doctorate Degree in Private International Law from the same university in 1996.

Ajibade is a Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies in London, an International Practice Fellow of the International Bar Association (IBA) and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, United Kingdom. He combines the role of an advocate, a corporate/commercial solicitor, an administrator and a reformer and is reputed to have excelled in each of these areas.

With over 20 years legal prowess specializing in immigration law, family law, mental health law and legal education, Oduwole has been a partner in Topmarke Attorney LLP since the inception of the firm in 2016. She is reputed for her leadership, teaching and mentorship skills (especially of young lawyers) and ability to navigate difficult and sensitive legal matters.

Oduwole holds a degree in Law and two master’s degrees in law. She is working on her third master’s degree. She also holds a certificate in Higher Education and has been called to the bars of Nigeria and Ontario, Canada. Oduwole practised law extensively in the areas of corporate/commercial law, civil litigation and family law in notable Nigerian law firms. Aside from her practice of law, she taught law in the Nigerian Law School, particularly in the areas of Civil Litigation, Legal Drafting, Professional Ethics and Responsibility, and Real Estate Law. Oduwole is a published author who has published law texts and several journal articles, and has presented research papers in conferences in Asia, Africa and North America.

On his part, Albert is a renowned justice sector reform consultant and Lead at LEGALPEDIA, a foremost software company. He has presented several papers on technology and disruption in the legal industry. Speaking on the impact of technology in law practice, he said: “Law is very dynamic. That is the essence of technology. It enables you to keep pace with developments. Technology helps you to adapt to new changes.”

The Nigerian Law School Class of 1989 donated an e-platform to its alma mater as part of its 30th anniversary celebrations. The facility is aimed to support quality training and retraining of Law School students and especially young lawyers. The e-platform is reputed as a first in Africa aimed at transforming legal education and legal practice.

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JUNE 12: ADEGBORUWA, FAGBOHUNLU, BALLASON HONOUR ODINKALU WITH HUMAN RIGHTS PARLEY

Leading human rights activists will on Friday hold a webinar in honour of foremost civil rights advocate and former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Prof. Chidi Odinkalu. The webinar is in commemoration of Odinkalu’s birthday anniversary.
Among those who are billed to speak at the webinar are fiery human rights activist, Mr. Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN); leading woman activist, Gloria Ballason; outspoken human rights campaigner, Mr. Inibehe Effiong; former Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Young Lawyers’ Forum, Mr. Issa Adedokun and Cynthia Mbamalu of the ‘Not too young to run’ fame.

With Mr. Babatunde Fagbohunlu SAN, Partner and Head of the Litigation, Arbitration and ADR Practice Group at Aluko & Oyebode as Chairman, the webinar has “The Future of Human Rights In Nigeria” as its theme.

With Mr. Orji Ama Chinedu as the arrow-head, Odinkalu said of the conveners: “A bunch of young people whom I have mentored are setting this up as annual event on 12 June. They had wanted to start in 2018 but I told them my mum was in terminal condition. Last year, I told them I was still in mourning. It begins next (this) week. Please feel free to join if you can.”

The webinar is scheduled to hold on Friday, June 12, 2020 at 11:00 am. Prospective participants can register at the following link: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZAuf-ypqDIjHtXjmd6dk-__2B3FSxxrhf5A. After registration, a confirmation email would be sent notifying the registrant on hot to join the conference.

Odinkalu is a Senior Team Manager at Open Society Foundations, a global charity that works with local communities to support justice and human rights, freedom of expression, and access to public health and education.

He received his PhD in law from the prestigious London School of Economics and Political Science. Prior to joining Open Society Foundations, Odinkalu was Senior Legal Officer responsible for Africa and Middle East at the International Centre for the Legal Protection of Human Rights in London; Human Rights Advisor to the United Nations Observer Mission in Sierra Leone, and Brandeis International Fellow at the Centre for Ethics, Justice and Public Life of the Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts, USA.

Odinkalu has extensive networks across Africa built up over several years of working for human rights and social justice on the continent. He is associated with several non-governmental and academic institutions within and outside Africa. He is frequently called upon to advise multilateral and bilateral institutions on Africa-related policy, including the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States, and the World Economic Forum.
As well as acting as the Chair of IRRI’s Board, Odinkalu also serves on the Board of the Fund for Global Human Rights. In 2017 he was appointed Steering Committee Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Section of Public Interest and Development Law (NBA-SPIDEL) by the NBA President, leading to the resuscitation of the comatose entity.

Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Copyright 2018 CITY LAWYER. All materials available on this Website are protected by copyright, trade mark and other proprietary and intellectual property laws. You may not use any of our intellectual property rights without our express written consent or attribution to www.citylawyermag.com. However, you are permitted to print or save to your individual PC, tablet or storage extracts from this Website for your own personal non-commercial use.