‘My Idea of Welfare for Young Lawyers’ – Akpata

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President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Olumide Akpata has said his idea of welfare for the young lawyers to equip them with modern skills and tools to provide for themselves and not providing handouts to them.

He said that was the reason his administration revitalised NBA Institute of Continued Legal Education (ICLE) to enable them learn critical skills that will help them carve a niche for themselves.

While delivering the 46th and 47th combined convocation lecture of the University of Benin (UNIBEN), his alma mater, on the topic “Re-prioritization of Education – A panacea for the Obstacles Challenging National Development in the 21st Century Nigeria” last week in Benin, Akpata explained that his administration has been contributing its quota in promoting legal education as provided in its Constitution.

He said: “Indeed, the promotion and advancement of Legal Education in Nigeria is part of the aims and objectives of the NBA as contained in Section 3 of our Constitution. It is a mandate that we take very seriously.

“As I have consistently told Nigerian lawyers, especially the young lawyers, my idea of welfare for the young lawyer does not lie in providing handouts to them, rather it is about equipping them with modern skills and tools to provide for themselves.

“It is for this reason that we have revitalised our ICLE to empower Nigerian lawyers, especially the young lawyers, to learn, unlearn, and relearn the critical and relevant skills, and this the ICLE has already started through its robust practice based training sessions that have been highly acclaimed.

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“We have also set up a Career Development Centre at the NBA, which among other things, provides career guidance to our members and acts as a statistical centre regarding career deficiency and development of members. We are also launching a mentoring programme under which senior practitioners who have made a name for themselves will act as mentors to young lawyers.”

For legal education proper, he said the NBA Legal Education Committee has been set up and equipped to partner with distinguished members to effect a transformational change to the legal training that prospective lawyers receive in Nigeria.

Some of their specific mandates, he pointed out, include to achieve a review and upgrade on the structure and content of courses being taught in the universities and at the School.

“We owe ourselves the duty to develop and introduce new modules on emerging areas of the law like environmental law, technology, FinTech, information technology, commerce, power, entertainment, sports and ensure that existing courses, especially the commercial/business law courses, are taught in a practical manner that reflect contemporary realities.

“Indeed, it does not speak well of the education system that after spending a minimum of six years to qualify as a legal practitioner, many employers still expend considerable resources to send their new employees to undertake practical and skill based trainings before they are deemed ready to solve clients’ problems.

“When I say these things, they are not intended to bring down the education system. Instead, I say them as an employer of labour and because these constructive feedbacks are necessary for growth and progress.

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“ Having said this, we must nevertheless concede that even with the best education system, there will always be one or two things that the schools cannot teach, and we must therefore consistently seek to learn those things and equip ourselves with the requisite skills to survive the revolution that is sure to come,” he said.

The Bar leader, who decried declining standard of education, the number of out-of-school children, burden of domestic and foreign debts in the country, and the paltry fiscal allocation to education, charged the alumni to get interested in political leadership by ensuring that those who do not believe in education across all tiers of government are not voted into powers.

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