Diary of a Rookie Lagos Lawyer (3): My First Day at Work

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I finally got a call for an interview and after a rigorous test which included written and oral interview, about six of us were sent away with “we will contact those that are successful on Monday”

It was the longest weekend I ever had. All I needed was to get this over and done with; good news or bad news. Fortunately, I got the magical phone call congratulating me and requesting that I resume for work the next Monday. That was it. I made it finally. I got a top tier law firm and no going back. I only recall reminding myself that it was only NYSC after an over 5 hours celebration and phone calls. I shouldn’t be blamed. It was a call that introduced several firsts; first time of passing a job interview, first time of getting a job, first time I would earn a salary even if it is small. So many things were running through my mind; how to be the best and give my best. How to ensure that I am very cordial and respectful, how to read every day in the library to know all the laws and how to ensure that if someone is going to be “RETAINED” in that office, it must be me!

My first day at work was memorable. The firm was very thing I wanted and more. A building which housed well-groomed gentlemen of the bar. I was introduced to the office structures, the lawyers in their cadres and the non- lawyers too. Everyone acting very polite and nice.

The office has two broad departments. Litigation and Corporate Departments.  The departments have sub divisions but let me not bother you with that.  The next intriguing finding was the aspect of my introduction which included the “change of name and initiation”. Initiation? Into what? How? My tour guide Ms. Teni Peters only smiled and said just come with me.

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The whole office came alive the moment Ms Teni requested in a loud voice “we need a change of name for Cecelia Eyisi. By the tradition in the firm counsel are called by their initials. One may think it’s as simple as just picking your first two letters. Well the firm made it a bit complex by introducing a procedure which makes the new counsel  argue with a volunteer counsel on whether the initial should be your saw name first or vice versa. My only succor was that the seriousness I met few minutes ago had disappeared and the office was in an informal mood but then I saw both the Principal Partner and Managing Partner stroll out of their office! Haa  to name a Corper?  I was overwhelmed.  I heard names like TO, ST, MMM, BR, LS, FO, JO, SAN etc.

I was called to introduce my initial and I simply said Cece while the volunteer chose CE

The volunteer argued first and I was asked to argue. I only know my lips moved. What they said I cannot recall. My initial won and there was loud jubilation. The whole exercise lasted less than ten minutes and ended before 9am but everyone was having a good laugh including the PP and MP! My last initiation was to sit on my desk and call the over 25 colleagues with my extension. I was told to be warm and friendly and say anything that I felt like. To the best of my ability I gave it a shot and finished within few minutes. Well I  later  got to know that all these were to show me that the firm has two extremes and there are no lords, just mutual respect and professionalism. I was impressed particularly because I was just a Corper!

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Introduction and initiation ended, Ms. Teni came back with the final instruction. As a Corper I do not get the privilege to choose department, by the prerogative of the Seniors I was posted to the Litigation Department. This wasn’t a problem because I had an open mind about practice. I never chose or let my mind settle for one practice area over another while in school. I always had a response to such discussions; “I would do all that it takes to be a good lawyer. Now I get to pick up my wig and gown and do the Practice of LAW!

Generally, I had a fantastic first day at work and looked forward to the next day at the close of play.

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