Source: The Nation, 6/March/2018
First female Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Folake Solanke and former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) have urged senior lawyers to remunerate young lawyers undergoing pupilage in their offices well. The two senior lawyers made the call at the inaugural public lecture and presentation of a book entitled: New developments in law and practice in Nigeria by Deacon Dele Adesina (SAN).
The event marked the 35th anniversary of Adesina’s call to Bar, 25 years of the establishment of his law firm, and 10 years of his being conferred with the rank of SAN. The lecture had the theme: Building a successful legal career/practice. Solanke said pupilage was an essential element in the training of young lawyers and the development of the legal profession, adding that juniors doing pupilage are not slaves and so should be properly remunerated.
Olanipekun advised lawyers to learn to “steal” knowledge from their colleagues. According to him, Rome was not built in a day, so young lawyers must be prepared to learn and adhere strictly to the principles of legal practice. Citing personal example, Olanipekun said: “Whenever I go to court with Femi Falana, I know it is going to be a legal war and I am always prepared to tap from him, because I know that where my wisdom stops, there his own begins and so I must not run him down”.
“Lawyers must at all times, be God fearing, humble, charitable and accommodating. These virtues are instrumental to successful legal practice.” Olanipekun urged the NBA to be at the forefront in protecting the integrity of the profession, adding that the association was larger than itself.
Adesina urged the judiciary to continuously live up to its constitutional role to preserve legal practice. “The Judiciary has continued to live up to its constitutional and historic role as the bastion of constitutional democracy.
“It remains the tripod on which the hope of democracy and the common man rest and the time to stop politicisation of the Judiciary is now,” he said.
Prof. Koyinsola Ajayi (SAN), who was the guest speaker, encouraged bar leaders and senior members of the bar to live by the rules and practice what they preach.
He said: “Do not belong to the Bar where things are marred, nor sit on the bench of stench. Rather, be found only in the Bar, helping the Bench for public good.
To the younger lawyers and those in the Outer Bar, do not engage in idle chatter and banter, understand the importance of networking and engage accordingly.”
A member of the panel, Kemi Pinheiro, (SAN), who spoke after the lead presentation, highlighted the need for legal professionals to be humble, charitable, responsible and accommodating to one another.
He said: “Be open to learning from your colleagues. We must show ourselves worthy in a society that is looking up to us for guidance. But the fact remains that we would first have to change ourselves in other to change Nigeria,” Pinhero said.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Osaro Eghobamien said a lawyer’s duty is beyond being responsive to clients.
“I believe taking a case without merit to the Supreme Court is a level of injustice that should not be condoned. There are many areas of law yet untapped, with several opportunities lying therein.
“However, without strong legal institutions, we cannot provide services that are global. We must begin to align our operations and services in line with international standards,” Eghobiamen said.
Another SAN, Fabian Ajogwu, said it was important for lawyers to understand what truly drives success in law. “I am not in the school of begging seniors to pay their juniors adequately. Rather, I am more interested in seeing hard work being rewarded.
You need to do research to become a good lawyer and apply it in the courtroom and the classroom.
In determining success in the profession, you must first determine what sort of lawyer you want to be. You must be able to measure your spectrum,” Ajogwu said.