Diary of a Lagos Rookie Lawyer (13): Rethinking My First Love

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I am always a bit nervous on Fridays. Why? It is the day of the week when cases are assigned around here. I dread this day of the week not because I do not like going to court, I definitely love going to court but I just love to go and nod my head to; “appearing with me is Cecelia Eyisi.” Meaning, I love to go with a senior. In fact I can excitedly go to court every day of the week for as long as I am attached to these ‘over sabi’ seniors in this office. That in its self is not healthy but I like it like that and there is really nothing I can do about it for now.

But somehow, they just find ways of ensuring this does not happen. The week before, I was to appear in court alone just once and then appear with seniors three times. I thanked heavens but guess what? I eventually appeared alone three times. The exact reverse and it has become a norm kind of. You do not even want to know how it happens. They will first tell you to go and read the file, then the next morning, they will tell you to go and get your jotter and biro. Then they will start dictating what they presume will happen in court and how you should react to it. It is always a very terrible and scary situation because what they envisage most times do not happen. I have also gotten used to just standing listening and pretending as if I am writing because in the end, the jottings would be of little or no help at all.  In fact, there is a particular one, I now know his trick. For him, “would you like to go home with the file” is the new way of saying “you are appearing alone tomorrow.” Any day I am assigned to go to court with him and he says that, I just brace up for my lone appearance. The last time I went to his desk to complain about being abandoned by him in court, he said to me; “ Cece, you will come back to me, standing right there and saying, thank you for the exposures.” Then he would change his countenance and seriously say “if you ever mess up my file, I will deal with you.”  So, Fridays, I fear about how many cases I am going to be assigned to handle alone, and I fear about how many they will abandon me to go and do alone.

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Last Friday, I checked the list and saw my name from Monday to Friday. I was paired to the wrong people three times and listed alone two times. I thought of my long list of seminar papers to get through with, I thought about the Saturday lecture that would last till 5pm. Then, I thought about how Sunday would not be enough for me to even get myself ready for the week and then discouragement set in. I was sad and confused. I tried to convince myself that this would be over before I knew it but I could not. I tried so many tricks including reminding myself that I was going to be a Senior Advocate someday. It didn’t do the magic.

Seriously, I am not trying to exaggerate here but I feel suffocated. I have had time to really discuss with fellow Corps members. Nobody has gone to court the number of time I have been to court. Nobody has prepared court processes, beginning from the writ to the very last. I have prepared motions for injunctions, I have prepared innocuous motions as they call it. In fact, this one is now like my baby. I get it through within few minutes. I have been given couple of written addresses to prepare, even final written addresses had been thrown at me. I would get to sum up what I did with the written addresses soon.

This journey has been very awesome and very challenging. There have been many down times and moments of immeasurable joys. There are times when all I wish for is to give up and there are times when I just felt so fulfilled and wish to never stop.

Last week was so terrible I called my dad for the first time. He said to me; “you desired to become a successful lawyer. You said to me, your success is not good enough, yet even at  my level, I worked hard enough to understand that hard work is not enjoyed but it doesn’t hurt.” He said so many things to encourage me. He told me to become the SAN he wasn’t able to become. He said a whole lot. The thing is, my dad has always been my support system, but for once, I did not feel the impact of his words.

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In the beginning I wished to be given an opportunity to practice law in a well-organized, well-structured, first tier law firm. I am not sure of this wish anymore. I met two in-house counsel and the peace they radiated just sitting with us and calmness with which they briefed us became infectious.

Okay, so, here is me, thinking of  quitting litigation practice with the end of NYSC. This is the summary of all I have said up there. I wish I could get a few more encouragement either to quit or to keep at it.

Cece is overwhelmed. Litigation practice is really hectic!

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