When were you called to Bar?

Daily Trust - - LAW - By Daniel Bu­lus­son Esq

On March 12, 2014, 20 mem­bers of the NBA, Kaduna branch, wrote a req­ui­si­tion let­ter to the chair­man of the branch de­mand­ing for ex­tra or­di­nary gen­eral meet­ing pur­suant to Ar­ti­cle VI (10) of the Bye Laws and Stand­ing Or­der of the Nige­rian Bar As­so­ci­a­tion, Kaduna Branch to as­cer­tain and dis­cuss the res­o­lu­tions made at the Na­tional Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee meet­ing held in AdoEk­iti, Ek­iti on March 6, 2014 and to con­sider the im­pli­ca­tions, if any, of the said res­o­lu­tions.

Con­se­quently, an EGM was called by the chair­man of the branch on March 20, 2014, by 3p.m. but due to one rea­son or the other, the meet­ing was brought to an abrupt end barely 10 min­utes af­ter it started be­cause few lawyers were not happy that the meet­ing was presided over by the chair­man, A.A Iroa­galachi Esq.

The ques­tion then is ‘ why write a req­ui­si­tion let­ter to the chair­man, if you don’t recog­nise him as chair­man?’ Be that as it may, the up­roar in the venue of the meet­ing af­ter it had been ad­journed, prompted a young lawyer to ex­press his opin­ion that the se­nior lawyers in the ju­ris­dic­tion are mis­lead­ing the young lawyers when it comes to the NBA cri­sis in Kaduna branch.

A gen­tle­man in skirt took this state­ment per­sonal and asked the young lawyer, “When were you even called that you are talk­ing about NBA mat­ters?” In my opin­ion, I think the right ques­tion is, ‘Have you been called to the Nige­rian Bar As­so­ci­a­tion?’ If the an­swer is in the af­fir­ma­tive, then the year of call is ir­rel­e­vant. I am yet to see a mo­tion on no­tice granted by the courts solely be­cause the ap­pli­cant coun­sel was called to the Bar so many years back and not on the merit of the case.

The le­gal pro­fes­sion is an­chored on se­nior­ity at the BAR, it is prac­ti­cally im­pos­si­ble for a young lawyer to make it in the pro­fes­sion with­out first learn­ing un­der the tute­lage of a se­nior lawyer. In courts, cases are called out by or­der of se­nior­ity of en­rol­ment at the Bar, when try­ing to har­monise diary for a clear date, the young lawyer ought to ap­proach the se­nior lawyer not the other way round, this is just to name a few. The prin­ci­ple of se­nior­ity in the le­gal pro­fes­sion is to pro­tect the ethics of the pro­fes­sion as the young lawyers of to­day would in the not too dis­tant fu­ture be­come se­nior lawyers and de­mand the same re­spect ac­corded to se­niors.

Hav­ing said that, young lawyers ought not to be in­tim­i­dated, fright­ened or cowed by the num­ber of post call years of an op­pos­ing coun­sel be­fore mak­ing a

By our African cul­ture, elders are meant to be re­spected at all times by the young ones, the same

ap­plies to the le­gal pro­fes­sion.

Young lawyers should not be seen as dis­re­spect­ful in the con­duct of their af­fairs or re­la­tion­ship with se­nior col­leagues.

sub­mis­sion, be it right or wrong. Let your sub­mis­sions be on the strength of your case, don’t be scared to voice out your opin­ion on preva­lent is­sues when called upon to speak. We have seen young lawyers do well when ar­gu­ing against Se­nior Ad­vo­cates of Nigeria (SAN); we have also seen se­nior lawyers who are un­able to marry the High Court (Civil Pro­ce­dure) Rules with the case they han­dle (no of­fence in­tended). As Lord Den­ning rightly put it, “God for­bid that a lawyer should know all the law.”

It is not how far but how well, young lawyers have been so bul­lied by se­niors to the ex­tent that they no longer feel they have the com­pe­tence or ca­pa­bil­ity to ap­pear alone in court or make a rea­son­able le­gal ar­gu­ment, this in turn af­fects the self-es­teem and ad­vo­cacy of the young lawyer and also makes the young lawyer lose self con­fi­dence. “The young lawyer needs en­cour­age­ment not dis­cour­age­ment.”

By our African cul­ture, elders are meant to be re­spected at all times by the young ones, the same ap­plies to the le­gal pro­fes­sion. Young lawyers should not be seen as dis­re­spect­ful in the con­duct of their af­fairs or re­la­tion­ship with se­nior col­leagues. Do not use de­grad­ing or dis­cour­te­ous words when ad­dress­ing se­niors on is­sues in or out­side the court room; don’t en­gage in ver­bal war with a se­nior col­league even if he is rude to you; don’t in­ter­rupt when se­niors are talk­ing amongst them­selves ex­cept when spo­ken to; don’t call your case out of turn with­out first seek­ing the per­mis­sion of the se­niors at the Bar et al.

A young lawyer would not make it far in this jour­ney of ours if he is seen as ar­ro­gant, pompous and dis­re­spect­ful by se­nior col­leagues in the pro­fes­sion. At the same time young lawyers should not al­low any one, no mat­ter the num­ber of post call years treat them with dis­dain be­cause they are young.

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