Young Lawyers Col­umn Ask your prin­ci­pal

Daily Trust - - LAW - By Daniel Blus­son Esq

This young wig was in court re­cently try­ing to adopt a counter-af­fi­davit and writ­ten ad­dress op­pos­ing a Fun­da­men­tal Hu­man Rights ap­pli­ca­tion when he dis­cov­ered that cer­tain documents that ought to be an­nexed as ex­hibits were not at­tached to the counter-af­fi­davit, but the orig­i­nals of the said documents were in his file, the Hon­ourable Judge on dis­cov­er­ing this over­sight di­rected the young lawyer to go and ask his prin­ci­pal on the nec­es­sary steps to take to reg­u­larise his po­si­tion.

Be­fore an­other court in a dif­fer­ent mat­ter, the court in a bid to ad­journ the case in a man­ner that would cover the num­ber of days a plain­tiff has to file his fi­nal ad­dress and the de­fen­dant to file their re­ply ad­dress, asked a young wig the re­quired num­ber of days he would need to file his fi­nal writ­ten ad­dress as the plain­tiff, and he hur­riedly said twenty one {21} days in­stead of four­teen {14} days i.e Kaduna Ju­ris­dic­tion and the Hon­ourable Judge said ‘ask your prin­ci­pal.’

On need for coun­sel to al­ways learn by ask­ing se­nior col­leagues what to do in a par­tic­u­lar sit­u­a­tion, it was held in NJABA L.G.C v CHIGOZIE {2010} 16 N.W.L.R {part 1218} per OGUN­WU­MIJU at page 193, paras B-C: “… it is un­for­tu­nate that Mrs. Aguta Ag. di­rec­tor of le­gal draft­ing did not think it wise and ex­pe­di­ent to ask se­nior col­leagues what to do in this sit­u­a­tion. A lawyer is al­ways learn­ing, that is why we are called learned…”

“God for­bid that a lawyer should know all the law” said Lord Den­ning but then, the beauty of prac­tise is the ex­pe­ri­ence on the job. The knowl­edge and ex­per­tise of a young lawyer with two {2} – five {5} years post call can­not be com­pared to that of a se­nior lawyer with fif­teen {15} – twenty {20} years post call, that does not mean that the se­nior lawyer is al­ways right. In this pro­fes­sion no one is per­fect, hence we learn by the day.

Young wigs in ac­tive prac­tise that go to court fre­quently would re­alise that cer­tain pe­cu­liar sit­u­a­tions arise in the course of ju­di­cial pro­ceed­ings that takes only the ex­pe­ri­ence of the se­nior lawyer to save the day, and if a young lawyer were to be in the same sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion he would find it very dif­fi­cult to find a way out.

The le­gal pro­fes­sion is all about in­de­pen­dence of knowl­edge, how much a young lawyer learns de­pends on how many mis­takes he has made on the job, where such young lawyer makes a mis­take while deal­ing with the of­fice case, ‘NO BE SMALL WA­HALA BE THAT FOR HIM HEAD’. How then are young wigs sup­posed to de­velop their le­gal skills when the work­ing en­vi­ron­ment is not en­cour­ag­ing? Bear in mind that an aver­age salary for young lawyers in any ju­ris­dic­tion is far be­low their liv­ing stan­dard.

It is due to the gloomy work­ing en­vi­ron­ment in some law firms, that most young lawyers find it dif­fi­cult to ap­proach Prin­ci­pal Part­ners on mat­ters they han­dle be­cause of fear of re­proach. The kind of prin­ci­pal a young lawyer be­gins his so­journ with plays a large role in de­ter­min­ing how he ap­proaches the le­gal pro­fes­sion.

This writer knows of a young lawyer in Plateau ju­ris­dic­tion whose prin­ci­pal not only pays low, but also col­lects the ap­pear­ance fees of his young lawyers when they come back from court, and yet they close late. The young lawyer {a gen­tle­man in skirt} out of frus­tra­tion left the law firm and joined a fam­ily com­pany as a Com­pany Sec­re­tary that pays above a hun­dred thou­sand naira ev­ery month with less stress and this job of­fer was avail­able be­fore join­ing the law firm.

A young lawyer can­not make any rea­son­able head way in the pro­fes­sion with­out proper guid­ance from his prin­ci­pal, as not ev­ery­thing is learnt from the book. In cer­tain law firms there ex­ists fric­tion be­tween the prin­ci­pal and the young lawyers hin­der­ing a free flow of knowl­edge from one to the other. This is not en­cour­ag­ing.

While it is para­mount for young wigs to ask their prin­ci­pals cer­tain is­sues of law they find hard to un­der­stand or com­pre­hend, a prin­ci­pal who serves as a guide to the young lawyer should be ap­proach­able to en­cour­age in­ter per­sonal re­la­tion­ship in the workplace.

The le­gal pro­fes­sion is sup­posed to be fun but most young lawyers sing a dif­fer­ent tune.

Do send your com­ments, ob­ser­va­tion and rec­om­men­da­tion to daniel­bu­lus­son@gmail.com

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