Thursday, July 30, 2020

Legal Profession

Legal Profession: A river of endless opportunities By S.L Funtua

In This article we shall be discussing the followings:

Legal profession
Who are the Legal Professionals?
Who is a lawyer?
Different Types of Lawyers
Importance of Lawyers
How much is lawyers salary in Nigeria?
Fields of employment
️Legal Guidance and Counselling
️Mitigation
️Preservation of Grundnorm and balance amongst the arms of Government
️Protection of Human rights
️Litigation and Representation
️Combating for Public Interest
Professional Career Opportunities Available For Lawyers In Nigeria

Abstract
Legal profession is unique from divergent angles constituting its glowing shape. The abundance of excellence and extravagance of intelligence and brilliance poured by its custodians are undesputably dissipating the arrogance of other professionals. Precisely, It nobly humbles the world with brains.

Introduction
Lawyers or aspiring law students get into legal career with a reason or passion, fruitful or fruitless. However, a wise and composed lawyer is like a driver with a mission of reaching a designed destination. He must have a goal to achieve on the right hand and converter on the other hand. Once the goal is missed, the converter turns the the missed goal into opportunity rather a latrine pit where it can't be a well. In Nigeria, we have a fused legal system; where once you are called into the bar you are saddled with concurrent jurisdiction of barristership and solicitorship.

What is Legal profession?
Defining the term ‘legal profession’ is more difficult than one may anticipate. It becomes apparent that the simplest definition is perhaps the most befitting. The legal profession is a ‘vocation that is based on expertise in the law and in its applications.’ Those who pursue these ‘vocations’ collectively form a ‘body of individuals who are qualified to practice law in particular jurisdictions. The learned occupation of these individuals is to study, promote, uphold and enforce the collection of rules imposed by the authority. They thus form a ‘legal profession.’

Who are the Legal Professionals?

There are essentially two main branches of the legal profession – solicitors and barristers. Solicitors advise individuals and organisations on legal matters and ensure that their clients act in accordance with the law.

Who is a lawyer?

According to wikipedia"A lawyer or attorney is a person who practices law , as an advocate , attorney at law , barrister, barrister-at-law, bar-at-law, canonist, canon lawyer, civil law notary, counsel, counselor, counsellor, solicitor, legal executive, or public servant preparing, interpreting and applying law, but not as a paralegal or charter executive secretary. Working as a lawyer involves the practical application of abstract legal theories and knowledge to solve specific individualized problems, or to advance the interests of those who hire lawyers to perform legal services. The role of the lawyer varies greatly across different legal jurisdictions.

Different Types of Lawyers

▪️Debt recovery Lawyering:

This is mainly with respect to banking debts. Banks engage the services of this type of lawyers to recover money owed by bad debtors.
The lawyers normally get their fees as a contingency on the money that they are able to recover from the debtor.

▪️Corporate Lawyering:

This type of lawyer deals with company incorporation and regulatory issues, and also primarily focuses on obtaining permits, licence, registrations etc from Government agencies and tax authorities, and ensuring that all the legally mandated requirements for operation of business of the client are met.

▪️Criminal Defence Lawyering:

For the first couple of years when a Nigerian lawyer is called to the bar, he/she is likely to get loads of comments by friends and well wishers saying‘ now that you are a lawyer I can go and look for trouble in town, and if they arrest me I will call you’. These people obviously don’t know much about the different types of lawyers that exist. This over-simplification of the role of lawyers as only limited to criminal issues, is largely because that is the impression which the media gives. In reality only a minority of lawyers ever get to deal with criminal matters in court, it is a very interesting and draining specialty as the lawyer is essentially responsible for ensuring the freedom of the client. It is an area of law that is not for the faint-hearted.

▪️Transactional Lawyering:

Lawyers in Nigeria who specialize in this are normally work for the big commercial law firms, they deal in things like Project finance, Public Private Partnerships, Mergers and Acquisitions, etc. They work mainly with other international law firms in these high value transactions. It is a very lucrative area for these types of lawyers, but also very difficult to break into as the nature of clients are massive conglomerates and international banks and investment banks.

▪️Property Lawyering:

Every Nigerian Lawyer is always open to this type of law, really because it is mainly straightforward, and lawyers are necessary for property transactions. Any transaction, which involves the transfer of an interest in land/property, needs a lawyer. Lawyers mainly charge for their fees as a percentage of the value of the transaction. A big land transaction is the proverbial ‘ Golden Fleece‘ for these types of lawyers. Even though there are different types of lawyers, this is one underlying area which lawyers are interested in getting involved in.

▪️Immigration Service Lawyering:

A growing number of lawyers in Nigeria are beginning to specialize in Immigration law. The bread and butter of this is making applications to the Nigeria Immigration Service for work permits and visas for employees of multinational companies. It is really an administrative process, however, it can be painstaking and time consuming for lawyers not familiar with the inner workings of the Immigration service. A subsection of lawyers who practice immigration law also is dealing with Immigration issues of other countries, for example they deal with appeals and judicial reviews when clients visa applications are rejected.

▪️Divorce Lawyering:

A worrying high number of marriages in Nigeria are being dissolved, and this area of law is a pretty lucrative one. The divorce lawyers in Nigeria typically prepares all the necessary court papers detailing the grounds for divorce, makes the necessary court appearances, and represents the client’s interests in any divorce negotiations or settlement discussions.

▪️Employment Lawyering:

Lawyers in Nigeria specializing in labour and employment law deal with things like non-payment of salaries, unfair dismissal, and harassment at the work place etc. The National Industrial Court has special jurisdiction for employment related matters, so lawyers focusing on this field are well versed in it’s practices.

▪️Public Interest Lawyering:

When people think about public interest law, one name above all springs to mind- Chief Gani Fawehinmi SAN, he was the soul of public interest litigation for many years, and he made a name for himself lending his skills to public interest matters. Public Interest litigation encompasses those areas of law, which as the name implies, are in the interest of the general public. It is not a very lucrative area of law (and is also a potentially very dangerous area of law), and that is probably why increasingly not many people are deciding to specialize in it. It includes things like human rights, civil rights, and challenging government illegality.

▪️Dispute Resolution Lawyering:
This is the broad area for all things that involved disputes and potentially end up in court or in arbitration.

Lawyers who wish to operate in this area and excel must be good orators, and very knowledgeable about the rules of court. This is the typical wig and gown lawyer, and the role involves primarily drafting court pleadings and processes, and making court appearances on behalf of clients.

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However, some other areas of law which the different types of lawyers in Nigeria are increasing specializing in include – Intellectual Property and Technology matters, Estate and Probate matters, and Media and Entertainment matters.Studying law sharpens your analytical, reasoning and critical thinking skills, giving you a new perspective of the world. Even if you do not want to practice as a counselor or a litigation lawyer, the skills you develop in law school and through practice can lead to new opportunities and serve as a stepping-stone to many other careers.

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Similarly, alternative law-related positions are found in every employment industry sector, including:Executive positions in the private or nonprofit sectors: the leadership management training and problem solving skills acquired in law school and throughout their careers, prepare lawyers to fill these positions.

Importance of Lawyers

No pen or paper can exhaust the significance and usefulness of lawyers in the society so also the numerous opportunies availed to them.Thus, a few would be mentioned for the purpose of clarity and time factor. Namely;

How much is lawyers salary in Nigeria?

Lawyers salary depends on the organization he/she is working. But lawyers make up to N5million per month and even beyond.

Fields of employment

Courts
Government
Law firms
NGOs
Legal aid
Corporations

▪️Legal Guidance and Counselling:

Lawyers advise their clients on the right path and legal remedy to take, and at the same time help in achieving that remedy in the courts of law.Where people are in dire need of philosophical lawyers are the best consultants for expertise in analytical skills and experience for avoidance of falling into the traps of legal potholes.

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▪️Mitigation:

Lawyers help in solving disputes between various entities, whether it be a feud between two individuals, between the governments, between the government and common people via the mechanisms of ADR (i.e alternative Dispute resolution).

▪️Preservation of Grundnorm and balance amongst the arms of Government:

Lawyers help in preserving the Grundnorm(i.e the constitution);and likewise help in maintaining a balance between the legislature, executive and judiciary. Thus, the Legal Profession is fundamentally important for the Administration of Justice in the country.

▪️Protection of Human rights:

Lawyers help the common people in upholding their basic rights,often, through pro bono or low bono cases which serves as deterrence against violation and infringement of other people's rights

▪️Litigation and Representation:

It is an opportunity to find representatives in any matter which you are either unavailable to hold or you are unable to haul. Lawyers spend sleepless nights toiling on books and facts, tapped from emperical interviews, and forensic investigation before battling with statutes and judicial precedents to build a skeleton of a legal represention and thereafter give a flesh of diligence in the court of law.

▪️Combating for Public Interest:

Late Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN is a clear epitome and a daily celebrity in this regards. He lived his life and died on this clamour;and left behind unquantifiable legacy rather occupied the role model citadel in this practice,exclusively. ▪️Etc...

Honestly, the list is unexhaustive rather just to mention a few.

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Professional Career Opportunities Available For Lawyers In Nigeria

Barrister
Solicitor
Legislature
Judge
Court Registrar
Jurist
Advocate
Attorney
Legal executive
Prosecutor
Law clerk
Law professor
Politician
Legal Publisher
Public Service
Management Consultant
Management Consultant
Company Secretary
Legal Analyst
Stockbroker
Government Lawyers
Legal Data Analyst
Chartered Accountant

Conclusion
On 17th June, 2010, Felicia Eimunjeze, Deputy Director, Academics, Nigerian Law School, Lagos campus, was asked whether there were too much lawyers in Nigeria. She eloquently replied:

"It is just an illusion. There aren't too many lawyers in Nigeria. Rather, we don't have enough lawyers. It is surprising. The Nigerian law school was established in 1962 and till date, we have not trained up to 70,000 lawyers in Nigeria. This is for both the dead and alive."

This is impliedly entailing that we are currently having below one hundred thousands lawyers in Nigeria, dead and alive.In a busy country termed giant and heart of Africa where transactions,conflicts and development are daily rising and reading an estimated population of 206,139,589 people at mid year (i.e July 28,2020), as declared by UN data; more than two hundred thousand lawyers are demanded to bridge the apparent gap.The article is a response to the too much commotion and disquiet amidst Lawyers, Law students and laymen that legal practitioners are in excess, which is not rather a fallacious illusion in totality. Let me draw the curtain with this "lawyer is like a fire extinguisher which there should be one atleast in every home!"

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References:

1.https://lawpadi.com/different-types-of-lawyers-in-nigeria

2.https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/nigeria-population

3.https://m.thenigerianvoice.com/news/27276/since-1962-law-school-has-not-trained-up-to-70-000-lawyers

4.www.vanguardngr.com/2013/06/young-lawyers-unemployment-is-bars-greatest

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