CONFRONTING THE DEMON OF LEGAL PRACTICE – MY NOTE TO THE NEW WIGS AND YOUNGER LAWYERS

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May I take a moment to congratulate my dear friends and new wigs who have just joined the fold of legal practitioners in Nigeria. No doubt, being called to the Nigerian Bar is no small achievement. Having gone through the rigours of legal education myself, I can attest to the fact that you have just come out from a very laborious time in your life.

As one who has gone through this process, I can also tell you that despite all the discouragements and uncertainties associated with your training as a barrister and solicitor, you have just joined one of the best and promising professions in the world. However, what you make out of it is entirely up to you.

Now to the subject of my notes to you, “Confronting the Demon of Legal Practice”. From my little years of experience, I have come to realize that qualifying lawyers in Nigeria are confronted with one big demon, and that big demon opens the door for its colleague demons to besiege you as a new wig or younger lawyer. This demon, most at times, will even start confronting you from the first day you gain admission to study law in the university. And what is this ‘Demon’? It’s nothing else but what you already know, the demon is ‘FEAR’.
Fear of what you may ask? And my response will be fear of everything, fear of if you can do it, fear of if you can make it, fear of mistakes, fear of finances, fear of uncertainties, fear of the unknown, fear of survival from proceeds of practice, fear of clientele, fear of knowledge, fear of experience, fear of if you have made the right decision, fear, fear, fear. And as a matter of fact, while some come out of these fears, others wallow in it for the rest of their practice, having no hope, mustering no enthusiasm and determination, and failing to put in the work.

My job today is to bring the good news to you that there is nothing to fear. Every successful lawyer you see today most likely was confronted with the same demon, but they fought it and won it. A lot more came in with so much enthusiasm that all they wanted, was to appear in court the next morning after their call, and they actually did appear in court. I imagine they were also confronted with their fears, but they fought it. And so will every day of your legal practice or experience be, you are likely to face one fear or the other.
My message to you today is that of hope, that of resilience, that of determination and finally that of a promising career. The legal profession is a wonderful profession packed with a lot to make you successful in life, all you need to do is continue to learn, continue to ask questions, continue to pick up the fine attributes of the profession and most importantly, be resolute in your determination to succeed.

Do not hesitate to take up matters because you think you can’t do it, no, consult senior lawyers, ask questions, research and study the appropriate materials and you will be amazed at how great you will perform. Pay attention in court, and always learn from other lawyers as they conduct and advance their matters; find out the reason behind each side’s arguments. Do not be in a hurry to leave the court, take notes when something new to you is mentioned and read up on it after court, when you get back to the office or your home.
Do not be in a hurry to grab a case, when in doubt, look for a senior or more experienced lawyer to work with and keep learning from him or her, and others. Try to glance through every legal material you come across and if you take interest, it’s always a good idea to read further and more exhaustively. Do not dwell on your mistakes, take what there is to learn and move on. If there is room for amendment, correct your error and come back stronger and better.

Most importantly, note that there has never been a perfect lawyer, all lawyers can only improve, so always seek avenues to improve yourself. Do not be ashamed to learn, seek new learning opportunities and opportunities for continuous legal education, and embrace them.

Finally, by all means fight your fears, that is the only way you can win the demon. And I assure you that, the demon is winnable.
Congratulations and welcome to the bar where opportunities abound. From me to you, one love my learned friends.

AJULUCHUKWU O. EZE, ESQ.

SENIOR PARTNER
FRESH CONSULT & PRACTICE
(GRACE CHAMBERS)
ajuluchukwu@nigerianbar.ng

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