Why Are You A Lawyer If You Don’t Know The Law?

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Being a lawyer is in my view a privilege. It is not enough to only wish to bear the name ‘lawyer’ or ‘legal practitioner’ without bearing the accompanying responsibilities. This paper is aimed at encouraging lawyers and specifically, young lawyers, on the need for them to be up and doing in regard to the legal profession and the legal practice and to put in their best in the continuing legal education.

In my humble view, the purpose of education right from the department of law in the tertiary institution up to the Nigerian law school is not a joke and it is for a purpose. This purpose is for adequate qualifications for the training as a lawyer. Indeed, there are challenges in the legal profession that one as a lawyer must overpower. I have observed some lawyers that the fear of not knowing the law has forced them to abandon the practice of the law. They are not qualified with due respect to them. So, some of them raise defenses for themselves that it is because there is no money and that that is why they have to look for alternative means to the private practice. Such lawyers will only once in a while queue up at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and no more except to only engage in business. It is just very unfortunate for such lawyers that it is really too late to let out their disgrace and shame that they do not know many things about the law and perhaps they have ever been reading to pass only and not to know in their academic education right from the university and up till the Nigerian Law School. It is definitely in my humble view, one-way traffic when it comes to practice ‘either you know the law or you do not know the law’! Therefore, I view that the law practice would be very uneasy and difficult without the knowledge of the law. One must be competent.

Furthermore, I humbly advise lawyers to go back to their courses taken in the university and the law school and make sure that those of their textbooks that they have abandoned are revived from their archive and that is if they desire to practice the law. But if they do not wish to study the law but to only bear the title or nomenclature ‘lawyer’ or ‘legal practitioner’ and to brag that ‘I am a lawyer’, then, they might see no need to go back to studies. In my humble view, knowing the law coupled with reasoning makes ‘intelligence’ which I believe is what every lawyer needs to succeed in the legal profession.

It is true that one cannot escape those textbooks that one avoided in the university days. Much more, laws develop almost every day in which case, a lawyer needs to continue to keep himself abreast of the development of the law. Some lawyers would likely find it difficult to study legislations and those judicial precedents yet they wish to truly be lawyers. The point that I am making here is that it is very important for every lawyer to always study those sources of laws and equip themselves with those sources of the law. Every lawyer, for instance, must study the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Laws of the Federation in their entirety and volumes. Also, the judicial precedents must be studied through considering indexes. In all these studies, such a lawyer would observe some lacuna, some errors in the law and the way out as well as make recommendations for law development.

Furthermore, I have also observed, with due respect, that some lawyers especially young lawyers would judge law office where they desire to practice or be employed based on the facilities and how well equipped materially and for them to always be proud of that they wish to enjoy without any pain of performing the roles of a lawyer. It is a great shame to those lawyers who would only resume and close at the law office without upgrading themselves and only that they wish for a soft landing with no stress, with due respect to them. Whereas indeed, stress is part of the characteristics of the legal practice, professionally and only that one needs to manage such stress.

Finally, it is my humble view that as lawyers, we should all be up and doing in our roles and training as lawyers for a more progressive result.


Email: hameed_ajibola@yahoo.com


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