“Two heads are better than one”
The legal profession is all about rendering legal advice and services to clients, representing their interest in the best way possible, for there are many lawyers ready to offer the same services to the client, if not better. So, don’t give the client the opportunity to find that other lawyer.
In my few years at the Bar, I have noticed that some legal professionals prefer to do all the work themselves; they hardly seek advice from a fellow colleague, be it senior or junior, feeling they know the law and how to apply it, till it backfires at a point where the mistake cannot be remedied, and they lose the client.
Instead of learning from such mistakes, most still go ahead to establish a one-man law firm, solidifying and cementing the error of working alone. In this new age of advancement, there are easier and faster ways to get things done the right way, and the first step to achieving such is to be in a partnership.
The senior colleagues who already have a sole proprietorship can survive because they have juniors under their employ who they converse with on a matter before going ahead to render an advice or a service, but how about the younger lawyers aspiring to establish a law firm, and might not have the resources to fund the employment of other lawyers in the firm.
It is for this reason that I often suggest partnerships. Though some lawyers erroneously believe that they will earn less working together with other colleagues, when the truth of the matter is you earn more working as a group than as an individual.
Take for instance, the brief a single junior lawyer will charge N500,000 five hundred thousand naira only) which can go for N5,000,000 (five million naira only) with the right team and packaging. Also, the expenses for a single lawyer to establish a law office – from office space, furnishing to running cost – will be far less if it is collectively done than individually.
The idea is to have the advice and support of a colleague at all times, reason being that the stress and workload of the profession are so enormous to handle alone. If it were not so, check around for law firms that have only a principal and a secretary, no lawyer, and observe if such law firm is an ideal law office for the present day and age.
In my humble opinion, the kind of practice that was tenable in the yesteryears cannot be said to be tenable today. Working alone might have been the best form of practice then, but today, institutionalized law firms are the ones that really get the juiciest of briefs. Not because the legal advice would be different, but because the packaging and the confidence a partnership gives a client is different from a sole proprietorship.
Yahaya Audu of Teasy Mobile rightly said “God did not invent furniture, he created trees”, it was man that discovered that we can use trees for furniture. The new generation of lawyers need to explore working with others than working alone. With the coming of information and communications technology, even a virtual law firm can be established. Learned friends don’t need to be in the same room to offer advice to one another.
A colleague can draft an affidavit and send to another colleague via WhatsApp to help cross–check before going ahead to file; decisions can be reached electronically at the comfort of each partner. All it takes is the understanding that working alone as a legal professional in this day and age will not bring about the desired change in the legal industry.
The profession is in need of a network to bridge information and jurisdictional gaps, and this can only happen when we work together first in cluster units as partnerships, and metamorphose gradually into a network of institutionalised law firms.
No great man ever became great by doing ordinary things like ordinary people. The same with the legal profession. The fact that particular area or modus of practice is considered as the norm, doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the best for the modern-day lawyer.
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