As the NBA National Elections draw nearer, the deciding factors for the election are already crystalizing. One of such issues is the question of the “take home” for Young Lawyers.
There has been several propositions in various quarters on what model should be adopted for the welfare of Young Lawyers. Some have suggested that a Compulsory Minimum Wage should be implemented. While this idea sounds very laudable, there are many concerns which the proponents would need to internalize on the practicability of the concept.
Here are a few thoughts agitating my mind on the Compulsory Minimum Wage concept:
- What exactly would be the Minimum Wage? N18,000 as applicable to the Federal Government?
- How would the regime of Minimum Wage be established? Would it be through a Presidential Declaration, NEC Resolution, Amendment of NBA Constitution or an enactment of Legal Practitioners Minimum Wage Law?
- Would the proponents also make corresponding jobs available to law firms so that the Minimum Wage would be payable without the Law Firm going bankrupt?
- What would be the enforcement mechanism? Would defaulters be jailed or the name of the Partners of the defaulting law firm struck off the roll of call?
- How would a Principal who genuinely cannot pay the minimum wage cope with ensuring compliance with the policy?
- Would this not lead to loss of jobs? If I cannot pay minimum wage I should better sack every young lawyer and “be doing my thing by myself”
On this issue, I read a quote attributed to Mazi Adam Osigwe and I cannot agree with him less. He was quoted as saying:
“…I share the frustration of young lawyers in their quest to have the Bar regulatory Body put in place an enforceable minimum wage to be paid to young lawyers. The young lawyers should be given every opportunity to learn under senior lawyers upon the payment of a wage which will not only take them home but can also be lived on”
The Bar must therefore rebrand by:
- Ensuring lawyers play a significant and independent role in the administration of justice as well as in ensuring lawful compliance by persons and entities involved in governmental, commercial, financial and socio-economic activities.
- Exercising its power to stop corruption and could play a lead role in entrenching cleaner business transactions.
- Working internationally to open up legal markets to its members and defend human rights while supporting its members with opportunities in the domestic legal market.
- Positively projecting the image of our profession by fostering relationships that will represent the true position of things in the legal industry
- Providing support, advice and guidance on areas of practice and management, tailored to members’ individual needs
- Campaigning on legal issues of importance to members of the legal profession and the public across the profession.
- Developing business opportunities for legal practitioners at home and abroad.
- Reordering the training of lawyers.
- Improving access to justice by developing the courts to be user friendly, disposing of cases in a timely manner and put in place measures that ensure quick dispensation of justice without resort to technicalities or time-wasting.
- Mentorship and pupilage in the early stages of a legal professionals to help mould more entrepreneurs in the legal industry.”
I would keep looking for thoughts from the proponents of a compulsory minimum wage. When I find them, I would bring them here for analysis.