Olajide Abiodun, an alumnus of Lagos State University, Ojo, has almost five-year post-call experience. He believes the federal and state governments must participate in the grooming of young lawyers, ADEBISI ONANUGA reports.
When were you called to the Bar?
I was called to the Nigerian Bar on November 20, 2012.
In which chamber do you practice?
For how long have you been with the firm?
I have been in practice for five years.
Since you started practice, what has the experience been like?
It has not been easy standing alone and not getting paid salary, but the experience that comes with the profession is worth it. It is a privilege to be counted among the noble ones.
What was your first day in court like?
Can you remember the name of the judge?
Yes. The judge was Justice Ogunfowora, of the Ogun State High Court sitting at Sagamu(Court 3). He has been transferred to The Abeokuta division.
What was the matter about?
It was a land matter.
Since you started practice, what would you say has been the challenge?
The challenge has always been the system in place put up by the government and or the Judiciary, in the dispensation of justice. The whole system in majority, is corrupt and not functioning.(the court premises and facilities are not working). No encouragement from the bar and bench.
Do you in believe in specialisation, which is the in-thing among legal practitioners and why?
No. I don’t. Not in Nigeria as of today. It is not going to work. Are you telling me that if I specialise in land matters and I get a good brief on a criminal matter or election petition offer, I should refuse? More so as a legal practitioner called to the Nigerian Bar, I should and I’m expected to solve legal issues, and when one confronts my attention, I can’t refuse. It only becomes an issue if a legal practitioner goes ahead to deal with a matter he is not sure he can deliver to the best of his knowledge.
What does the relationship between you and senior colleagues like?
My relationship with senior colleagues is very cordial and I give every respect available to those that deserve it in the profession. If you ridicule the profession, I have a duty to react.
Most times you see young lawyers complaining of poor remuneration. What is your take on this?
It depends on the perspective of the young lawyer and how he sees it. It also depends on the organisation you work for and the environment you find yourself. You cannot find yourself in a firm that doesn’t earn enough for a month to manage the office and you expect the firm to pay you enough. First, the firm is a business, then any other thing comes after. I think every lawyer needs to know and understand the business aspect of the legal profession before any other thing. Most young lawyers should be able to stand out and have that distinction among their peers. Why should I be paid more? What value am I bringing to the profession and the firm? Then what, really, do I want of the legal profession? I tell you, the legal profession is a noble one meant for noble men. The idea of the profession is basically to help the cheated and serve justice and not to make money. You only get compensated or remunerated if you have done a good job. But the world is evolving and we all need to survive. My suggestion is that there should be a law that mandates every new wig to be employed or pass through a pupilage in various states of the federation in every legal department available inform of housemanship to help the budding lawyer, and a fee not below the economic value, e.g. for now, a fee not below N150,000 and an accommodation. This accommodation can be in pairs, where two persons stay together. However, this offer is going to be optional, but same must be part of every budget of each state and the Federal Government agencies too.
Going by trials of some judges by lawyers, would you agree on the need to sanitise the judicial system?
Yes, the system needs to be sanitised.
How best do you think this can be done?
First, by granting the judiciary financial independence, mandatory workshop for all judicial officers and also legal practitioners, then total overhauling of the courtrooms. In a division there should be more that a 20 courtrooms for the High Court and 20 for the Magistrates.
So, where do you hope to be in the next 10 years?
I have so many aspirations. I will tell you three of them. First, I hope to have achieved enough to set up the biggest law firm in Nigeria, accommodating or employing over 500 lawyers. I also hope to be a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and finally for now an Attorney-General of the state or federation. As I said, I have so many aspirations 10 years from now. But I take it as it comes.
Culled from: The Nation
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