Teach me how to fish

Daily Trust - - LAW - By Daniel Bu­lus­son Esq

Sir, I ex­pect that you don’t just be a prin­ci­pal to me, but also a men­tor, in­ter­est­ingly, I be­lieve that’s what the pro­fes­sion also expects from you. The kind of lawyer I would turn out to be in years to come, to a large ex­tent is de­pen­dent on how you go about car­ry­ing this as­sign­ment. I would be learn­ing a great deal from you even with­out you know­ing it…” Let­ter to my prin­ci­pal {www.three­le­gals.com}

Tak­ing a cue from this young wig’s let­ter to his prin­ci­pal, it is ev­i­dent that ju­niors in the le­gal pro­fes­sion ex­pect se­niors to serve as men­tors, not just em­ploy­ers of labour and help con­trib­ute in the mold­ing and shap­ing of their prac­tice as they climb the lad­der. Ex­pe­ri­ence can­not be traded in the mar­ket, our learned se­niors are vastly ex­pe­ri­enced in han­dling le­gal mat­ters; they know how best to man­age a client re­la­tion­ship, how to charge for and of­fer le­gal ser­vices, how to pack­age a prod­uct and more, all the young lawyer asks is that he should be given the coach­ing and op­por­tu­ni­ties to ex­plore his po­ten­tial.

This writer was nearly moved to tears when the mother of a young wig was com­plain­ing bit­terly how it took so long to train her son to be­come a le­gal prac­ti­tioner, now he is five years at the Bar and yet, she con­trib­utes to his upkeep and ac­com­mo­da­tion. I thought of con­sol­ing words to say to her like “madam don’t worry, it would soon be over”, or “madam, it takes pa­tience and hard work for one to reap the ben­e­fits of the le­gal pro­fes­sion”, but those words could not come out of my mouth, why? Be­cause ma­jor­ity of young wigs’ par­ents {the writer in­clu­sive} are mak­ing the same com­plaints and words alone can­not sal­vage the sit­u­a­tion.

The irony to this how­ever is that ev­ery lawyer is a po­ten­tial mil­lion­aire, in shorter than fif­teen (15) min­utes a lawyers bank ac­count digit can change dra­mat­i­cally {and I mean jaw break­ing dif­fer­ence} in han­dling one le­gal deal; so where lies the fault? Why are young wigs de­spite the hard work, de­ter­mi­na­tion, pa­tience, com­mit­ment et al not at that level yet, why is it dif­fi­cult for a young wig prac­tic­ing in Nige­ria with four or five years post call ex­pe­ri­ence to have a sav­ings ac­count worth one hun­dred thou­sand naira {N100,000}? Is the spend­ing habit or life­style of the young wig re­spon­si­ble for what makes him closer to broke than affluence? Who is in a bet­ter po­si­tion to show th­ese young wigs across the coun­try how to fish?

“Teach me, not just how to col­lect ap­pear­ance fee, but also teach me the tech­niques you use in billing clients, I ex­pect that you teach me, not just the prac­tice of law, but also the busi­ness of law, I ex­pect that you con­sciously teach me all that you know that I need to know to be­come the best I can be as a lawyer.”

This cry of a young wig is gen­uine and in­no­cent, we are most times ac­cused of not hav­ing the pa­tience to learn the job, that all we pur­sue is money, but this goes be­yond the financial, a young wig is like a cub in the jun­gle, he can only learn the nitty gritty of the pro­fes­sion through the eyes of his prin­ci­pal. If a young wig comes to of­fice look­ing shabby and un­kempt, the prin­ci­pal as a fa­ther, should in­quire why his em­ployee is not im­mac­u­lately dressed, prin­ci­pals should have the abil­ity to in­flu­ence the char­ac­ter and at­ti­tude of a young wig to­wards life in gen­eral. He needs some­one to show him how best to man­age life and its ex­pec­ta­tions on the one hand, the le­gal pro­fes­sion and its di­ver­gent dif­fi­cul­ties on the other hand.

As a se­nior, men­tor­ing ju­niors is not re­stricted to lawyers in thy cham­bers alone; ev­ery ju­nior col­league that comes across to thee, re­quires your guid­ance, wis­dom or ex­pe­ri­ence on how he can be­come a bet­ter gen­tle­man. We want to learn but not knowl­edge re­stricted to lit­i­ga­tion, we want an al­len­com­pass­ing knowl­edge that would make oth­ers see your con­tri­bu­tions in me; it is a thing of joy for both the men­tor and the pro­tégé.

Do send your com­ment{s}, ob­ser­va­tion{s} and rec­om­men­da­tion{s} to daniel­bu­lus­son@gmail.com or like us on www.face­book.com/ younglay­w­er­scol­umn

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