“Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm…You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today”
– Abraham Lincoln
Just last week, law graduates who were deemed “Fit and Proper” by the Body of Benchers were called to the Nigerian Bar.
It is after the tedious, brain-straining, hectic and stressful five years of grilling at the university and the nine months practical learning of laws at the Nigerian Law School that your name would be enrolled in the Supreme Court as a barrister and solicitor.
Many of you might be disappointed with the outcome of the results, some have been asked to resit the examination, some graduated with first class and others got grades lower than their expectation. Those who have been asked to resit, stay strong, everything happens for a reason, do not relent in your effort to make it better at the next trial. Those who feel they got less than they deserved, please note that the grades are not placed on the forehead of any legal professional. If you feel you are good, come into the legal industry and prove yourself. Geniuses who made first class, worthy of congratulation, do not feel you know it all and relax your enthusiasm to learn.
The fact that in legal practice one is not required to read for an examination does not mean the journey is over, on the contrary, it has just begun. Remember all the scenarios you discussed at group meetings for presentations in the law school. Well, you are about to encounter them in real life almost on a daily basis on the practicing side of the fence. When you falter, it is at the expense of your client and your reputation despite your grade.
Please take note that the legal profession is not a bed of roses; there is no free meal in the legal industry. Do not come with the impression that once you become a lawyer you are established for life. All those with the big dreams of driving jeeps or building mansions, once they get into the profession, should be ready for a shocker; there are numerous smart and ambitious lawyers in the industry before your coming.
However, do not be discouraged, with hard work, smart work, humility, consistency, commitment and patience, success would surely cross path with you on this legal journey. Learn to package yourself into a brand, looking smart, decent, intelligent and ready to go.
The use of smart phones is not new to majority of your set, so begin to use the knowledge of Information Communication Technology (ICT) to advance the cause of justice and improve the legal profession.
Do not be in a haste to achieve that which is far from your grasp, be calm, cool and collected. Just as a new born baby learns to crawl before walking, the same applies to the new wigs, they ought to come into the profession with the desire to learn and adapt to the legal environment; as you learn, you grow.
At this stage, a new wig ought to pay attention to his/her strengths and weaknesses in the bid to discover where his/her passion lies in the profession. Not all are good advocates, likewise not all are good solicitors or orators. The idea is to find your path early and groom such passion/talent to know how best to put it to use to earn good income. Be careful not to get lost and spend too much time and effort on another’s dream, ignoring self-development. It is at this stage that a lawyer begins to lay foundation for a good name, and a good name is gotten from a good reputation.
To the few chosen by the Council of Legal Education, welcome on board the Nigerian Bar, though the journey may be tough and turbulent, if you stay focused, with a willing spirit to learn, and accord respect to your senior colleagues, success is guaranteed.