Speaking at the weekend, Adekoya warned that unless this is checked, the spectre of unemployment especially among young lawyers would persist and escalate.
According to Adekoya who, as former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) 1st Vice President, championed the Stamp and Seal project which would have protected against incursion of non-lawyers into the legal sector, “We are worried at the rate of increasing unemployment and underemployment in the profession, with other professionals brazenly encroaching on the areas of activity normally reserved for lawyers.”
She observed that estate agents now provide legal services through ready-made tenancy agreements not drafted by lawyers while probate staff have taken over probate work and are the main interface between beneficiaries and their lawyers.
The Harvard-trained lawyer urged lawyers to take up the gauntlet in the fight against this menace, saying: “I urge you to engage with your Nigerian Bar Association branch, section and the national body as to how we can confront those professionals who are encroaching on the work of lawyers and reclaim our space.”
Adekoya a two-time NBA National Treasurer remains added that newly qualified lawyers “often do not possess either the soft skills which make them employable or the ability to attract clients and briefs for themselves.”
She warned that as an association of lawyers, “we are only as strong as our weakest link. An unemployed or underpaid lawyer does not enhance the dignity of the profession.”
Noting the suggestion that the profession re-institute a compulsory pupillage period for new entrants “during which they would fully imbibe the ethics of the profession in a work environment,” the former Chair of the NBA National Human Rights Committee urged lawyers to engineer advocacy to redress these challenges.
Adekoya also noted that lawyers “need more robust interaction on the Council of Legal Education and an upgraded skills training process,” adding that avenues must be created by the association “to promote the use of lawyers within the community, so that senior and junior lawyers alike can all benefit.”