My Grouse: We are Lawyers! We are Unprofessional! Part 1

1

Law Firms and Conditions of Service

My friend works with an outsourcing agency and we had this conversation recently:

Friend:  Babe,  I am looking for lawyers o. We are recruiting for a law firm.

Me:        Wow nice. I have plenty people to recommend. What is the package?

Friend: The thing tire me. This una profession na wa. The man just wants us to interview lawyers and leave package out. Me I never see this type before.  We hardly recruit for law firms though, but when we do, they hardly comply with minimum standard requirement of the law. Strange! You people are just lawyers, you are not professional at all!

That was a friend who studied Business Administration. She talked to me about employment law and how lawyers are the biggest culprit. The feeling was a combination of pain, anger and embarrassment. My business admin friend was very correct. I have seen the highest violation of standard labour practice in the legal profession. Yet, we are the ones that go to court to get justices when there has been infringements. Hypocritical right?

It is only in law firms that people work without employment letter. Only in law firms do people work and they do not pay tax, no pension scheme, no promotion, no salary increase and no employment formalities howsoever. With greatest apologies to a few law firms in Nigeria that have standard employment structure. Please Sirs note that you are less than 1% , you are in the minority and you are very insignificant and by the way, before you begin to think it doesn’t apply to us, let me tell you, your own issues are even more serious. (I will let you know another day)

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I have been trying to wrap my thoughts around this legal profession. We do things in stranger than life manner. How can a law firm wanting to recruit not factor in employment benefit? In fact, the most common is the ones that say to you “you can be doing your own thing, just do my work” crap! Arrant nonsense! Highly debasing of a noble profession. Why would I hire you and allow you do your own thing? In any event it is just a saying. Where is my own thing that I want to do? Take over your own clients? Or, have you assigned time for me to be off your own work to be able to look for my own thing to do? Abi I don turn ghost wey get double body? Abegi!

I wanted to talk about remuneration, but I figured it’s a touchy area, we would talk it some day but for now, you would have barrage of reasons why they would not make anything standard; you are a professional; a lawyer; lawyers are not remunerated; lawyers learn and make their own income! Like seriously? Are you exactly for real? In Nigeria? Oh Please! Tell that to Doctors, Accountants, Engineers, or are these ones not professionals too?

Employment is employment and has been widely defined in the laws which we are very fortunate to be the interpreters. Why do we find it difficult to see it ourselves? Is this not the case of healer heal yourself?

You wonder why a lot of lawyers are hair dressers, supermarket owners, cashiers in banks, secretaries to companies? Majority were frustrated out. I mean argue it to any length. If I don’t have adequate incentives, I would be a superhuman to be motivated to be the best. Our ancestors would begin to argue with me about how they collected kobo kobo from the G.O. K Ajayis and the F.R.A Williams, of old. Please spare me that. Times have changed. The things you had access to during those periods are far within anyone’s reach at present. Those men gave as much as they were earning.

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How would you make me work like a donkey to prepare election petition processes worth over N100 million, send me to Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, and the rest to secure hundreds of millions brief and all I get is paltry sum, without pension and future security and you expect me to function like you did when you were working with the forefathers. Spare me. I’ve got bill to pay, and unfortunately, those bills do not understand the stories of our ancestors. I need to also get a home, marry, have children and give them what you are giving your own children. How do I do that? When you are not even thinking about my future sir?

Every vacation, you have enough money to travel abroad with family, you have enough to send your children to the ends of the world and you do not have enough to give me proper employment in accordance with the law? Do I sound like am beefing you? Very well sir, I beef you! So what? I deserve to sound like a broken record. Deal with it sir!

We cannot get what we didn’t bargain for. You wonder why those ones that have proper employment package always have the best brain. It is simply because they know how to activate and motivate the brain to work. I mean who would gamble with a good law firm in Nigeria. That is why if you are waiting for openings in those well-structured places, you would grow grey hair, nobody is going anywhere. Once you are in no going out.

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My argument is simple, and my anger self no plenty, dear law firm owners, please lawyers are employees as long as they work for you, forget the deceptive idea of “they are learning”. Mbok, learning without earning after all the stress may not work. I have not said to go and remunerate beyond your limit. Read my vent, I have only said whatever you can afford to give me as a lawyer, biko, give me in line with standard labour practice. Let me have my employment letter, I want to work for you. Give me my monthly salary, deduct and pay my tax, contribute my pension, register me for health insurance packages and then blame me for not being industrious. After all, he who goes to equity must go with clean hands.

Oya come and beat me! You don’t even know me!

My Grouse – Making serious sense unseriously …

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