The Successful Lawyer: Reading; Cure for Ignorance and More – Tosin Ajose Popoola

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 “ I’m ill, cause, ignorance, said the doctors
Diagnosis, treatment; A drug was recommended, books
A therapy was suggested, read, read books,
Read books, they say again, read books
Alas, I’m hale and hearty, I read books,
I was exposed to opportunities,
Opportunities hidden in books
I went places
Choice destinations
My ignorance cured
I’m healed[1]”

Dear Colleagues,

When last did you read a book? I do not mean Law Reports or Text. So, I ask again, when last did you read a book? I understand that as Lawyers we have heavy workload which does not accommodate ‘extra-curricular’ activities such as reading. I’m also mindful that as humans, regardless of how busy or overworked we are, we will always find time for things that are important to us. Hence if reading becomes important to us, we will always find time to read. And thank God for technology, there is no need to go about with a ‘physical book’, you can have all the books you need on your hand held device or any other device, such that every spare moment can be judiciously used to read.

Reading is beneficial[2] for a lot of reasons, I will share some of these reasons shortly. But before I do that, have you been able to honestly answer the poser I raised above? Regardless of your answer, whether you can’t even remember the last time you read or you even have a book under your pillow, on your book shelve or hand held device, the most important question is, are you reading at all? I do not need a response to this question, rather I call on you to walk with me through this article and if after sharing the benefits of reading with you, you still do not see any need for reading, then I will ask, what are you living for? I hope I never have to ask this latter question.

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Reading Strengthens Writing Skills: Recently I was commended by Honourable Justice J.D Peters of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, Ibadan Judicial Division on my Final Written Address which I filed in Suit No: NICN/IB/104/2014, in His Lordship’s words in open court on the 15th day of July, 2020. “Mrs. Popoola, I enjoyed reading your Address” I graciously thanked His Lordship. However, I credit the beauty His Lordship saw in my Final Written Address to books I have read and not even the knowledge of law and procedure. The truth is that you may know all the applicable principles, but if you do not write well, your known principles and knowledge will be lost.

As Lawyers, we cannot shy away from writing, every sphere of the profession requires writing, the Company Secretary needs to take minutes of meeting, write legal opinions among others, the Litigation Lawyer needs to draft pleadings, write Addresses, Briefs among others. The Doctors and Professor (and those in the making), need to write and publish articles hence the “publish or perish rule” in Academics. The point, I’m trying to make is that Writing Skill is one of the most important skills needed to survive and thrive in this profession and to hone this skill, you need to read.

Here am I, preaching a technique that I have applied. I hope you apply this technique too.

Reading Builds Vocabulary: I’m sure we’ve all met someone who speaks impeccable English and throws in a lot of “new and beautiful words” in the process. I do not mean persons who are just hell bent on using “big grammars” to the annoyance and irritation of listeners. How did they learn to speak so well? By reading and that’s the simple answer. When you read, you learn new words and accordingly build your vocabulary. These news words may even find their way into your writing!

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Reading Reduces Stress: A study was carried out and the study found that 30 minutes of reading lowered blood pressure, heart rate, and feelings of psychological distress just as effectively as Yoga and humor did.[3] I didn’t come up with this. It’s a result of a research which findings has gone through the ‘credibility’ process. I know that while one is reading, the mind is focused and shuts out moments, situations and memories that may cause stress. So, if you want to reduce work related stress, please read.

Reading Builds Self Esteem: This benefit is a product of information discovered from reading. When one is deeply knowledgeable on a particular subject, it builds confidence to speak up on the subject and to disagree with other experts on the subject. A person without self-esteem will not be in a position to disagree whether rightly or wrongly on any subject, for to disagree presupposes that the mind is accustomed to the principles that governs the subject of consideration.

Reading Strengthens the Brain: The way we exercise to strengthen our body physically is the same way reading strengthens the brain. Reading is a mental exercise which leaves the brain in a better and fit position and further prevents cognitive decline.

Reading Builds Good Communication Skill: Good Communication Skill is one of the tools of a Successful Lawyer and this will accordingly form the subject of a separate article. However, I will like to remind you that persons who communicate effectively were not born that way, it’s a skill they chose to develop through reading among others.

Reading Alleviates Depression and Aids Sleep: Some books, basically fiction have happy storylines and are capable of transporting a person from a depressing situation to a happy moment and thus alleviates depression and aids sleep. Have you ever wondered why there are bed time stories?  You’ve got your answer.

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I cannot exhaust the benefits of Reading in this Article and if my Editor permits, I might do a follow up to this Article at a later date. I will round off this aspect with these benefits, Reading exposes the mind to possibilities, it builds the will to focus, it answers looming question and positions as a Thought Leader (please click on this link for who a Thought Leader is)

Now, that you know some of the benefits of Reading, would you like to start Reading. How do I start? may be your first question. Here is my answer, please be patient with yourself and remember that you’re not competing with anyone and accordingly, I urge you to dedicate a couple of hours per day to read. You may also choose to dedicate a couple of hours weekly to read on an area of interest, hobbies, subject not related to law and Reward yourself for each milestone reached.

Finally, please remember that you’re doing this for yourself while knocking at opportunities that only reading can open.  Keep knocking, the door will be opened!

In VERA NAZARIAN words “whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light.”

I pray the doors will open and the light will come.

 ‘Tosin is a lawyer, content creator and blogger, she is passionate about law and its numerous instruments. She can be contacted at: tosinajose22@gmail.com

Footnote

[1] Poem composed and written by Oluwatosin Ajose Popoola Esq.

[2] https://www.healthline.com/health/benefits-of-reading-books#increases-empathy

[3] Stress Management Strategies for Students: The Immediate Effect of Yoga, Humor and Reading in Stress. Journal of College Teaching and Learning 6 (8); 79-88, Jan 2009

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