Addressing the issue of young lawyers’ remunerations has been on the front burner for a longer period to be ignored. the excerpt below from Elias Olatunde Ajadi’s facebook wall was culled from a keynote speech at the maiden annual seminar of the NBA Section on Legal Practice in 2006 on the topic “Legal Practice & Economic Prosperity”delivered by Fidelis Oditah QC, SAN.
[T]oday, legal practice has come under sharp criticisms even by lawyers. The quality of lawyers we find parading our court rooms is quite disheartening. Many of these lawyers would tell you that they were frustrated out of employment since they could not make ends meet. In the alternative, they have set up firms of their own without any meaningful experience and a good number are engaged in sharp practices. For many of these, professional ethics are just for the books and not to be practiced. Some lawyers are now engaged in a race to the bottom, trying to out do their colleagues in sharp practices. Because a few of such sharp practices have apparently brought commercial rewards, certain junior lawyers are trying to emulate the successful crooks. This is worrying. Our young lawyers must be given all the right incentives to enter and remain in the legal profession. I do not see any reason why lawyers everywhere should earn a good living from the practice of law but not in Nigeria. As trial lawyers, we are partly to blame – our delaying tactics put people off litigation or arbitration in Nigeria. If we raise our game, economic benefits to all of us would be immediate and substantial.
The time has come to review the remuneration of junior lawyers to enable our younger colleagues live decent lives and give their best to the profession. Principals must take cognizance of the present economic situation in Nigeria and ensure that any package offered juniors must be competitive with what other professionals are paid and should be adequate to provide the basic needs of life like feeding, clothing, shelter and transportation. It is only when these basic needs of life are met can a junior fully concentrate on his work and improve himself thereby. For example this Section of the NBA can recommend a reasonable minimum starting salary for new wigs. Some people have suggested the payment of incentives as many banks and corporate establishments do. These are good ideas and should encourage the junior lawyer to contribute to the growth of the firm.
Being extract from “Legal Practice & Economic Prosperity”, a keynote speech at the maiden annual seminar of the NBA Section on Legal Practice (2006) delivered by Fidelis Oditah QC, SAN
A decade on, have we fared better?
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