NBA Lagos Branch Launches Mentorship Programme for Young Lawyers

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NBA Lagos Branch Launches Mentorship Programme for Young Lawyers

As part of its long-standing commitment towards the continuous education of young lawyers – especially in emerging practice areas, as well as in a bid to prepare them for the challenges and opportunities of legal practice in the 21st century digital marketplace – the Lagos branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) formally launched its mentorship programme for young lawyers. The programme, which is slated to span 12 months, will match young lawyers with senior lawyers in a mentor/mentee relationship in a bid to enhance the capacities of younger wigs and facilitate their development, as well as strengthen relationships between them.

NEWSWIRE Magazine’s correspondent in Lagos reports that the programme kicked off with a launch ceremony featuring a luncheon which was held on Thursday, July 12, 2018 at the Modan Hall 1 in Ikoyi, Lagos.

In his welcome remarks, the Chairman of the NBA’s premier branch, Mr. Chukwuka Ikwuazom outlined the motivations behind this project, namely, to use the instrumentality of mentoring as a means of building the mentees’ confidence, broadening their perspectives, increasing their knowledge of their chosen profession and expanding their networks. The benefits of this arrangement, he said, transcend the individual mentees to include the mentors as well as their respective organisations in terms of increased know-how and contacts across organizations.

Presenting the programme, the chairman of the continuing legal education and mentoring committee of the NBA’s Lagos branch, Mr. Tobenna Erojikwe described the programme as a catalyst for upward mobility – on both the economic and social fronts – for young lawyers, and urged them not to use it as an avenue to solicit for money or job opportunities from their mentors.

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Expanding on the many benefits of mentoring, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mrs. Abimbola Akeredolu drew on her personal experience, describing mentoring as a gateway that grants the mentee access to a view of the future long before it arrives. Mentoring, she added, gave one a perspective and an ability to see beyond one’s limited scope or circumstances, as it helps younger lawyers to understand that older lawyers have trodden the same path they are treading today. In the final analysis, she concluded, mentoring is gearing towards enhancing the mentee’s ability to handle challenges – both at work and in life generally – and to impart the understanding that challenges are meant to be met head-on, not run away from.

Also speaking at the session, a Partner at the law firm of Aluko & Oyebode, Mr. Reginald Udom gave the prospective mentees – most of who belong to the generation now known as ‘Millenials’ – an overview of the changing face of mentoring in the 21st century, and the many choices open to them as they navigate the twists and turns of their careers. Udom listed some of these options to include short-term, goal-oriented mentoring; peer-peer mentoring (also known as the buddy system); speed mentoring; e-mentoring; reverse mentoring; job-fit mentoring; and mutual learning, adaptation and change. He ended by announcing that, in deference to the Millenials’ preference for diversity and innovation, the prospective mentors are drawn from over 30 institutions across 4 continents of the world.

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According to NEWSWIRE’s correspondent at the event, the assembled lawyers were also privileged to hear from one of Nigeria’s foremost commercial lawyers, in the person of a Founding Partner and Chairman, Management Board of Aluko & Oyebode, Mr. Gbenga Oyebode, MFR, whose remarks – though off-the-cuff – still managed to convey a number of profound insights worth taking to heart. There is no perfect mentor, he began by saying, and therefore there was no point in seeking out a mentor who had the answers to all the questions a mentee could possibly ask. He implored the young lawyers never to rely solely on luck as a path to success, adding that one could make his or her own luck by a combination of hard work and the cultivation of relevant social skills. ‘We do not always get what we want,’ Oyebode said. ‘But we usually get what we deserve. More often than not, we get what is coming to us.’ He ended by urging the prospective mentees to cultivate the power of networking as a powerful tool for social mobility and professional growth.

An interactive session of questions and answers followed after that, as members of the audience expressed interest and concerns about issues such as the incidence of bad mentors who showed wrong examples; the feasibility or otherwise of extending the benefits of the mentorship programme to interns (who are, technically, not yet full-blown lawyers); the prospects of a mentee also playing a role as a mentor at the same time, among other concerns.

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