Diary of a Lagos Rookie Lawyer (2): My First Baptism of Fire (II)

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This man took me inside his office where we met two other ladies. As we entered, he went straight to the desk at the far end of the office and sat leisurely and began to search his drawers. I had demonstrated that my mum trained me very well by respectfully greeting the two ladies. One muttered some inaudible comment which didn’t sound like a response or acknowledgment of my greeting and the other didn’t even act as if someone came in. I wondered if I had met them before. Anyway, I just heard an inner voice saying “Cece they are the least of your worries now.” Rightly so.  I had a bigger issue to address. Me? Primary School? How now?

I stood at the middle of the office watching while my “solution provider” continued to rummage his drawer while chatting away with the two ladies and clearly  ignoring me completely. After about 3 very very long minutes, I walked closer to him and cleared my throat. Bros be like “en hee, what did you say again?” Politely and gently with all the powers of “don’t loose your temper” that the universe had bestowed on me I started again “Sir, I am a lawyer (emphasis on lawyer). Please I just realized that in this letter ( flaunting it with some disgust) it is indicated that I am supposed to resume at a primary school. So, I know there is a mix up somewhere, I need for this to be corrected so I can join others to resume work on Monday. The man stretched out his hand, collected the letter read through it, and said to me, “What correction?” There is no error in this letter. The Primary school is not too far from the bus stop” At this point I lost it! It was obvious he was either not paying attention to me or he was being sarcastic. Whichever one it was, I never found out till today.

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The reality finally dawned on me. I was even lucky to have been posted to a place where I would not be rejected. I should just go ahead and take my posting and go and teach Primary School pupils for the next one year and then collect my kpali and move on. I began to hear stories of how you can ask to be rejected; how you can by yourself get a firm to accept you and then report to the first place and from the first place take a letter and yadah yaday yaday! My head began to spin.

I called my dad immediately and he wasn’t surprised. I was frustrated. I was disappointed. I felt like crying. What is wrong with these people? Do they realize what I went through to get this certificate? I am a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Does this not mean anything to these people? The more these questions came, the more angry I became. I exhausted all my curse words and just laid down on my bed and slept off.

Next day, my friend suggested we go to town in search of law firms who needed NYSC. I was completely discouraged but no matter the number of obstacles I pushed forward. My friend kept insisting until we finally decided to start from firms who had their presence online. We sent several emails and called as many as we could find their numbers online. Guess what? These firms online, majority of them have numbers that are not functional. The ones that are functional connects you to a front desk who tells you we don’t need NYSC like it was quarrel.

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Hmmm! the struggle continued the second day, we took to Lagos Street. With my friend. Talking about my friend! I used to think I was streetwise until I met Nkechi! She has a funny saw name “Igbo” which I turned to Nkechi Igbo (meaning Nkechi weed). She can take you to the beginning and end of Lagos. The thing that Nkechi does not know where to buy or find in Lagos does not exist here. She will tell you the different between buying from Balogun and Idumota! Boy! So, she said to me, the big law firms are in Ikoyi, Victoria Island and Lagos Island, Lekki, some parts of Ikeja while the aspiring ones are in other parts. She also told me there are many very small firms close to the courts. Nkechi is good!

With her lead, we first arrived Igbosere Road, where you have the High Court and the Court of Appeal. We, nah, she reasoned that there would be job vacancies pasted at the court premises and then we could find a few firms around the court. We found vacancies pasted on the court premises alright, but they were all looking for 2-5 years post call. So we ventured into those streets, I was reading Hawley Street, Cowlane Street, Stratchan Street, bla bla bla! The few firms we checked there and with due respect had very small office spaces. The secretaries hardly have space to stretch their legs. The partitioning, for a claustrophobic somebody like me, forget it. I told Nkechi I wasn’t not interested in those cubicles.  She looked at me with some misguided disbelief. How is it doing me? she blurted. I finally gave in.

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For the first time since after passing my bar final I cried! I cried because all my expectations trashed just like that. I cried because my whole dreams were crumbling before me. I  cried because I couldn’t understand these whole, arrogance by lawyers, sleepless nights, long years of trying to qualify as a Law, the feeling of superiority! what are they all for? Finally,  I cried because I felt lost and rejected!

But in the midst of all these, I slept and in my dream, I saw myself resuming at one big law firm in Banana Island! Can you just guess? Dreams do come true!

God is saying something!…

Keep it locked!

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