Renowned Lawyers have advised young wigs and law students to seek knowledge, build brands and be tech savvy. They gave this advice during the 2020 Annual Young Wigs Conference organized by the CEO, The Legal Concierge, Inemesit Joy Dike, which held on December 12 at Eko Hotel and Suites.
The Young Wigs Conference is an annual event that focuses on What Law School Doesn’t Teach. It commenced Dive years ago and is aimed at orientating young lawyers, students of the Nigerian Law School, 4th and 5th year students of law faculties in Nigeria and other interested persons by bridging the gap between theoritical knowledge of law and practical aspects of legal practice.
• *The current state of legal education in Nigeria is anachronistic and designed to train lawyers whose only world view of a lawyer is the one who goes to the courts – NBA President, Olumide Akpata
• *Build Personal and professional brand. Be focused, diligent, authentic and honest in life and career – Prof. Konyin Ajayi, SAN
• *To rise from the lowest position to a partner in a law firm, you need to be knowledgeable, have skills of client management and ability to supervise juniors and bring income to the firm – Wale Akoni, SAN
• *Law students should develop the habit of consistently expressing their opinions about the legal aspects of current events via social media as that will help them build a brand which will in turn yield their first clients post call – Inemesit Dike
At the 2020 hybrid event, there were many renowned Senior Legal Practitioners physically and virtually present including the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. Olumide Akpata; Prof. Konyinsola Ajayi, SAN who was represented by a Senior Associate at Olaniwun Ajayi LP, Mr. Joba Akinola; Mr. Wale Akoni, SAN; Mrs. Mabel Ekeke, and Mr. Orowhuo Okocha while circa Five thousand young lawyers and Law Student participated online.
Prof. Konyinsola Ajayi in his Keynote speech themed Legacy and delivered through his representative, encouraged young wigs to build personal and professional brands. According to him, “What is called a brand when you are alive is what will be called a legacy when you are no more.”
Prof. Konyin, who is the Managing Partner of Olaniwun Ajayi LP, noted that building a brand is a daily exercise, not a one day event. Giving tips on how to build brand, he said, “First, you must be focused and deliberate about the brand you want to create. You cannot be everything to everyone but you must decide who and what you want you want to be first as that will shape everything else all these steps you are going to take and all the actions and decisions you are going to make.
“The second thing is that you must be genuine and authentic. Integrity is critical in life as it is in career, not least in the legal career…The third thing is you should be consistent and diligent….”
He urged young lawyers to use every opportunity they have to “create positive impact because whilst your legacy will be seen as the sum total of your impact, from the perspective of people you deal with, what you did for them and how you made them feel may be the full picture of your legacy”
The Learned Silk acknowledged that things are not rosy in the country as corruption, lawlessness and impunity have become order of the day thus rendering the country as the poverty capital of the world despite having tremendous human and other resources
He therefore urged the young wigs to strive for collective legacy instead of individual legacy and to participate in nation building just like Nehemiah did in the Bible.
“It does not suffice anymore to just know the law and read the cases, know how to file motions and affidavits, know how to prepare tenancy agreements. But no! Whilst all of that is fine and good, much more is required by those you serve. In this society that is evolving and progressing: business, finance, technology, strategy, these and more you must master.” he said.
On his part, the President of the Nigerian Bar Association Mr. Olumide Akpata, called for the review of the system of legal education in Nigeria both at the Law Faculties and the Law School as they both constitute the critical stages of any legal training. He said, the current state of legal education in Nigeria “is anachronistic and designed to train lawyers whose only world view of a lawyer is the one who goes to the courts.”
He lamented that the system has been producing lawyers versed in motions and affidavits but with little or no knowledge of practical know-how of other areas of practice. “This knowledge gap has created an intrusion of other professionals in the legal market place competing for what otherwise should be work for lawyers” he said
Akpata said his core mandate for the NBA is to champion a structured reformation of the system of legal education in Nigeria that will produce knowledgeable, competent, sound and ethically conscious lawyers. He added that the commitment remains solid and is at the heart of his welfare program
He said by first quarter of 2021 he will “convene a State of the Legal Education Summit at the Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti, to address all of the issues militating against legal education in Nigeria.”
The President of the Nigerian Bar Association also commended The Legal Concierge on the amazing work that has been done over the past five years at changing this narrative and firmly committed to working with the organisation to further solidify the organisations goals at charting a path that leads young lawyers to career fulfillment and to position them for leadership in the country.
The convener of the event, Inemesit Joy Dike, Esq explained that this year marks the 5th anniversary of the Young Wigs Conference which has always been free to attendees. She said the idea was birthed in 2016 when courts in Rivers State were down for almost a year and there was need to find different ways of engaging in legal practice. She also said her experience when she was called to the Bar in New York also inspired her to make a difference in her home country – Nigeria. She said she noticed that in the US and other Western countries “technology in legal practice was as easy as ABC” this there was a huge gap between the practical realities of legal practice and the way it was taught in Law School.
This inspired the launch of a product called Legal X Africa which acts like UBER where clients can access and choose any lawyer based on the lawyers rations as well as upfront knowledge of the cost of the legal service BEFORE payment! Legal X Africa would also afford lawyers to practice law from the comfort of their home and even highlight their chosen areas of specialization. Nigerian Lawyers in diaspora were encouraged to register as they can continue to practice law irrespective of being away from home and having their respective profile.
Legal X Africa and many pre-recorded sessions on niche areas of law have been made available via the The Legal Concierge website www.thelegalconcierge.org.
As a panelist that discussed the topic: The Olympic Torch of Legal Business, Mr. Wale Akoni, SAN, the Managing Partner of Babalakin & Co., urged young lawyers to have mentors. He acknowledged that irrespective of his achievements, he still has mentors who are retired judges, businessmen, Senior Advocates of Nigeria and the like.
According to him, the most important thing for a new wig to invest in is knowledge acquisition. He said that is why in his law firm, the task to be given to you in the first few weeks of your stay is to study the Evidence Act, the Rules of Courts and the constitution.
On technology, Akoni said it cannot take over or make work of lawyers difficult as insinuated by certain schools of thought. According to him, as far human beings are alive, use of the human brain must always be required. He said young lawyers should not focus on how technology will change or make things difficult for them. “Let us see how we can adopt it and adapt it. We need to understand the technology itself and see how well we can use it to make our jobs easier.” he said
On how one can rise from new staff to a partnership of a top law firm, Akoni said such person needs to be knowledgeable and have client management skills. Because, according to him, if you fail a client the client is likely not to come back again and the possibility that he will demarket you before other potential clients to discourage them from coming to the firm is there. He added that the ability to supervise juniors and bring income to the firm is also an important consideration.
On her part, Mrs. Mabel Ekeke, a Senior Associate at Babalakin & Co. emphasized on the importance of mentorship. She said her firm offered her the opportunity to stand on the shoulders of giants. She gets to interact with partners of the firm whom she described as “the finest and most brilliant legal minds” on daily basis and that has helped her to acquire a wealth of knowledge over the years.
Furthermore, she hailed social media for making it easier to follow happenings in the society and urged young lawyers to be active on it. However, she advised that they should be careful on the brand they put out there. It will never go away and can come back to haunt them if not used wisely. She said one has to be intentional about branding.
Mrs. Inemesit Dike thanked the speakers and panelists for sparing time out of their busy schedule to make it to the event.