A well seasoned lawyer is one who knows the ingredients that make up a gentleman per excellence, one who understands and appreciates the tenacity, time, effort, and resources devoted to becoming a legal professional. A well seasoned lawyer is one with honour, one whose word can be banked upon when relating with the society, one who can be trusted with properties worth any value, and still give accurate account of its distribution.
It takes a lot to become a well seasoned lawyer in Nigeria, sadly, it costs more trying to actualize the attributes of a perfect gentleman in a country like Nigeria. Standing up for a lady as a man to take her seat, or opening the door for her is considered an act of flirting in our beloved country; truth telling is becoming more of an exception than the norm; hypocrisy and self deceit happens to be the order of the day. Which begs the question, how does a well seasoned lawyer survive in a contaminated environment like ours?
From time immemorial till now, nothing great has ever come easy: no gold has ever being cherished, and possessed without passing through the burning taste of fire. In the same vein, it will take the patience of Job, perseverance, persistence, consistency, smart work on a daily basis, continually standing up for what is right no matter the resulting circumstance, self discovery, integrity, and more importantly a tough skin to survive the kind of atmosphere that a Nigerian lawyer is born into.
Due to the enormous task involved in weathering the storm of the Nigerian syndrome, it takes longer than necessary for the general public to appreciate the result of the effort of a well seasoned lawyer. The system which ordinarily ought to empower and support the efforts of a well seasoned lawyer to yield more positive results for the society, lack the appropriate structures to alleviate the accompanying obstacles of being a perfect gentleman in Nigeria. Simply put, the system ought to encourage, not thwart the efforts of a well seasoned lawyer.
This does not however mean that a lawyer who knows his/her onions should give up on trying to create a better, healthy environment for both self, and others, do not let the fear of the heat of fire hinder your services from being cherished by the general society. Difficult as it may be to accomplish, keep pushing till the day Nigeria wakes up to a better future created by your dedicated and steadfast effort.
In legal practice, a well seasoned lawyer does not engage in sharp practice no matter the accompanying temptations of Nigerian litigation; he does not allow the client to dictate the direction of a matter he is handling; does not sabotage the reputation of another colleague while representing a client; respects the sanctity of the court room by being a true minister in the temple of justice, and does not encourage citizens to break the law.
In the words of Hon. Justice Esther Lolo of Kaduna State High Court, “Many times I try to impress on the minds of counsel appearing before me, to be fair, truthful, and upfront with their clients. When a client comes to brief you, taking everything they have said, look at it dispassionately, place it against the law, and see how you can best advice your client”.
A well seasoned lawyer must understand that he is worth the salt in the meal of gentleness through daily interaction with the society. One of the holy books rightly says, ‘By their fruits we shall know them’, meaning it is the actions and conduct of oneself as a legal professional that will distinguish one as a well seasoned lawyer.
In the art of becoming, do not allow the surrounding circumstances to determine your contribution towards a better tomorrow, for we are solely responsible for the decisions we take as legal professionals, irrespective of the murky waters we find ourselves in, for one would be judged not by what the society presents you to work with, but by the results of your actions.
To my mind, a well seasoned lawyer determines the outcome of the society in his daily practice as a gentleman per excellence, not the other way around.
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