Employment Flight From the Legal Profession – Daniel Bulusson


Once upon a time in the legal profession, there were lawyers (popularly called ‘charge and bail lawyers’) whose practice survived on bailing suspects from police detention or accused awaiting trial, and still sustain a good livelihood. For one reason or the other this area of practice no longer serves as a meal ticket for lawyers.

Once upon a time also, debt recovery, bank searches and other financial legal transactions conducted by financial institutions used to be a viable area of practice for legal practitioners, but then again, for one reason or the other, this source of meal is no longer served on the table anymore for legal practitioners.

Then some of us went into corporate practice, incorporating limited liability companies and trustees, leaving part A of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (2004), that is business name to be incorporated by any Nigerian, be him/her a lawyer or not.

Sadly again, a new circular by the Corporate Affairs Commission has said any Nigerian, lawyer or not, can walk into CAC and register an incorporated trustees: meaning corporate practice as a source of meal is also off the table.

Coming down to the legal profession as a whole, we find young lawyers leaving law firms to get employed by government, multi-national companies, financial institutions, oil companies, armed forces, para-military, et al, because the legal environment is not encouraging: as lawyers have many bills to pay.

After all the time, resources, and efforts put into becoming a lawyer, after some of our mothers sold their wrappers to pay our school fees, then we become lawyers and still depend on their pots for our meals.

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In Nigeria today, majority of the legal practitioners are litigation-inclined; their practice is dependent on going to court. Sadly again, this area is also getting crowded due to influx of lawyers that are called to the Nigerian Bar every year, and if care is not taken, the litigation area of law may someday find it difficult to feed all the legal practitioners involved.

The legal environment is a self-sustaining avenue. It has the capacity to feed and take care of its members in advanced legal environment like the United States of America and the United Kingdom, while in developing countries like Nigeria; its members find it difficult to have a smooth sail.

The knowledge gap between these advanced legal environments and ours is so huge, that is why their legal practitioners fare better than us. This means Nigerian legal practitioners ought to start delving into untapped areas of law to broaden their practice beyond litigation, thereby providing other sources of livelihood for them.

“If they diversify and focus on new areas of law such as entertainment and sports, they would be more employable. Everybody wants to be a litigator, they want to wear wig and gown and rush to courts, and the court cannot even take the numbers…” Mr. Olumide Apata, Chairman NBA – BSL.

To my mind, there would be less employment flight from the legal profession if there is positive engagement of untapped areas of law.

It is no longer news that the Nigerian legal system is not helpful. Therefore, the bulk of changing the lot of our members rests on our shoulders.

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The legal profession ought to focus its beam on empowering legal practitioners in areas of law yet untapped that need our services. Many of us have only heard of trans-border practice on the paper, and really do not know how to engage them, some are interested in medical negligence, others in international trade disputes, but without the right framework; succeeding in these areas is close to impossible.


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Source: Daily Trust

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