When were you called to Bar?
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.