My Grouse: 2 years “Compulsory Pupilage” or “Compulsory Bondage”

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Learned brothers and sisters, have you had time to look at the 120 page Legal Profession Regulation Bill which is presently or will be presented before the National Assembly for consideration? If passed into law, the Act would regulate all of us in this profession. I mean legal profession in Nigeria. Oh boy the provisions inside that bill strong die! Na badoo!  In short, it has given me grouse forever!

Which kind bill be this one nah? Kilode?  I don’t even know where and how to start. Until I get distracted by a bigger issue, na only the things wey dey inside this bill I go dey talk about.

Today, it is this two years “compulsory bondage”, sorry “pupilage” that I want to talk about. Hmmm, I am tempted to ask; is this provision an attempt to legalize the slavery like practice already being experienced in the profession by young lawyers or what?

Before we go into what young lawyers would be inflicted with by the proposed bill, let me remind us of what  already is.  Presently, young lawyers work in law firms where seniors don’t pay salaries. Some senior lawyers under the guise of ancestors hide under the cliché’ “I am doing you a favour because you are learning the law in this office” and just ignore the fact that you deserve some form of remunerations. Some even turn junior lawyers into errand boys and girls who they send on all sort of errands (including the dirtiest of domestic errands, I will soon start calling names here. Am serious). In some offices, the junior counsel are not allowed to do anything legal by themselves , not even to go to court to do the least of all the task; “moving an application for extension of time to regularize a process”. Some seniors would be guarding files and hurdling information like their lives depend on it. Or are they not the seniors  that this provision intends to absorb the young lawyers for pupilage.

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Do not get me wrong at all. I am not against pupilage and I am not against the number of years that anybody wants young lawyers to spend before setting out. In fact, if properly structured, this pupilage would reduce the rubbish going on in this profession and we would all be better for it. There is something that we always forget in this part of the world, “how to solve problems from the root.”  Most of these so called seniors now who are the culprit of this write up are the way they are because they didn’t have pupilage because this lack of pupilage no start today o. Even self, many of our ancestors didn’t do any pupilage or is that not why they are doing anyhow? So to solve this problem let us fish out the ones that didn’t do pupilage and do adult pupilage for them. Otherwise ko le work!

Talking seriously, the proposed two year compulsory pupilage would have to address so many concerns, mine inclusive. I ask myself, would this provision not put the new wig at the mercy of the seniors who would then see the compulsory pupilage as an opportunity to statutorily maltreat the juniors and brag about it?  In the absence of compelling provisions  and structured scheme, pupil lawyers would be compelled to work for the first two years of their carrier without earning a kobo and without actually learning anything substantial.

Talking about money, it is very important, or how exactly is the young lawyer expected to take care of his basic needs within the two years of uncertainties.  Sadly we are all now confused into thinking that all fingers are equal. There are indeed juniors who are suffering. The proposed compulsory bondage would add to the suffering.  Using a life experience, just this morning I saw an appeal by a certain young lawyer by name Felix Elijah asking for sponsorship to attend the 2017 NBA Conference in one of the lawyers platforms. Many lawyers berated him and even suggested that he should be disciplined for begging in a forum for the nobles. How convenient! Sit down there and be deceiving yourself. Except what I am hearing is that the profession is not for the poor, then we all need to get off this ego driven height and start speaking out when we need to and start solving problems from their roots. Enough of all these ostrich dance biko!

Ok, I am beginning to have plenty thoughts flooding my brain at the same time. Before this mouth puts me in trouble, let me come and be going.

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By the way, did you also hear that as legal practitioners, it would soon be mandatory for us to pay a prescribed fee into a “Legal Practitioners Fidelity Fund” which would be used to compensate for the pecuniary loss resulting from theft committed by a legal practitioner? I  Just wonder how someone else’s crime would now became my responsibility to atone for when I don’t intend to die like Jesus Christ.

Ok bye.

My Grouse – venting my frustrations!

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