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NBA Must Wade Into Exploitation Of Legal Profession – SAN

Posted: Jul 2, 2015 at 12:17 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Adam Adedimeji, Lagos 

 

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has been urged to devise policies that would aid the welfare of young lawyers and better position the legal profession for the future.

Speaking at the recent NBA Lagos Branch Law Week held at the MUSON Centre, Lagos, Dr. Fabian Ajogwu (SAN), also warned that the future of the profession would depend on how well legal practitioners equip themselves, adding that the industry would be increasingly competitive.

Ajogwu decried exploitation of the industry by sundry stakeholders. Noting that juicy briefs were being yielded to foreign firms especially in the petroleum industry due to non-compliance with the Local Content Act by many International Oil Companies (IOCs), he urged the NBA to wade into the matter in order to make more work available to Nigerian lawyers.

Ajogwu who spoke on the theme, “The future of the legal profession: Protection from exploitation” at the opening ceremony of the Law Week, urged seniors and law firms to shore up their remuneration packages for their employees especially junior lawyers, adding that this is also in the interest of such seniors and law firms, otherwise they would become mere “training ground” and targets for others who appreciate the value in those employees and juniors.

Noting that the average client seeks to see the practice owner or “craftsman” due to the depth of the latter’s skill, Ajogwu urged young lawyers to invest in their future by acquiring requisite skills, adding that the reward system in the industry is both instantaneous and deferred.

The presiding justice of the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, Justice Amina Augie urged lawyers to always abide by the ethics of the profession.

In an impassioned speech which earned her a standing ovation, Justice Augie who traced her career trajectory, warned lawyers to avoid cutting corners as this would ultimately detract from their individual standing and the nobility of the profession. She also stressed the need for wayward lawyers to retrace their steps by embracing honesty and integrity, adding that the profession would be the better for it.

Former NBA President, Chief Wole Olanipekun decried the abandonment of the profession and the Bar by some lawyers. His words: “They are only known or remembered as lawyers through the prefix of ‘Barrister’ or ‘Lawyer’, without making any contribution whatsoever to the growth of the profession, whether contextually or tangentially.”

Speaking on “Virtue of service to the Bar” at the Elders’ Night/Awards held at Ikoyi, Lagos as part of the Law Week programme, Olanipekun warned that ‘contribution’ to the Bar must not be construed as merely financial donations “but also incorporates mentoring of young lawyers and shouldering leadership responsibilities. It also dovetails into knowledge sharing, including participation and attendance at a forum like this. Senior members of the Bar should inspire the juniors to make it in the profession and also climb to its Mount Everest.”

The programme was rounded off with a high-profile Dinner & Award Night at City Hall, Lagos to celebrate the former Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN). The Law Week Committee Chairman, Mrs. Tolani Edu-Adeola said the choice of Fashola for this year’s award was “unanimous,” adding that he was “head and shoulders above other potential honorees” for changing the face of governance in Nigeria.

This sentiment was echoed by the outgoing NBA Lagos Branch Chairman, Mr. Alex Muoka in his speech. Mr. Geroge Etomi, a National Productivity Order of Merit laureate, gave the Dinner Speech titled “The legal profession in an emerging economy” while Mr. Ebun Sofunde (SAN) was chairman in an occasion witnessed by the cream of Nigeria’s legal profession.

The break-out sessions dealt with several practice areas including Labour Law, Medical Law, Media/Sport Law, Insolvency Law, Capital Market Law, Tax Law and Alternative Dispute Resolution simulation. It also included the traditionally frank and heated Bar Bench Forum.