What I Would Like To Be When I Grow Up As A Lawyer!
By Hameed Ajibola Jimoh Esq.
In the legal profession, there are in fact, numerous opportunities for a lawyer to take up as career. In other words, litigation is not the only career in the legal profession, though, it is the most aspired for and jealous area of the legal practice. Lawyers must then, as of ambition, choose what they would like to be when they grow up as lawyers. Much more important is the fact that every day of a lawyer counts and he must make the good part of such time that he spends in that a day, which accumulates to what such a lawyer rapidly becomes in the very few years of being a lawyer. Also, this paper advises every lawyer to consider the kind of personality in ethics and morals that he would like to become when he becomes a senior and have to lead other young or junior lawyers.
According to the Webster online dictionary, the word ‘career’ as a noun means ‘a job or profession that someone does for a long time’. There are several careers or career opportunities in the legal profession. A legal practitioner can be engaged in private practice or in the public practice or in a non-public practice as an employee. Where he engages in the private practice, he might take a career of being a Senior Advocate of Nigeria or remain a Non-Senior Advocate of Nigeria after some years not less than ten years of being a lawyer. He might also be in the service of being a legal practitioner as an employee to any law firm or private institution such as company, bank, etc. He might also be in the legal department of government’s agency or in the office of the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation or of a State as a Counsel. He can be in the Federal Civil/Public Service or that of a State government as a civil/public servant. From whichever career chosen, he finds his success over the years that he remains in the career.
Furthermore, a lawyer must ensure that when he becomes a senior in the legal practice, he becomes a master of ethical conducts. There should be absolute compliance with the ethical conducts. Most importantly, as at the time that you are old as a lawyer, there are several young lawyers behind you who are looking up to you and you are likely gradually going to soon exit this world while others would continue just like some were there before you but are no more. So, when you do not become a good model to your young ones, you must have likely disappointed them or disappointed your generation. So, it is the best to also consider being a personality of professional ethical conducts.
Corruption and corrupt practices are everywhere, you as a lawyer should try to avoid all those shortcuts that are in real sense, far and lead to no good desired path. Looking towards legal practice with corruption as a tool is not what you should grow up to become doing and engage in for those many years of your practice. You may have a career in the corrupt way but you do not have success but failure! The truth is that you are likely to have achieved greater than or just as you have even if you had never engaged in corrupt practices. Parents should also not allow their children to learn all these bad conducts from them and they are also advised to change from their evil or corrupt ways of life. Where you allow your children or juniors in the office to learn bad ethics, then, it means you are one of those who contribute to the evils complained about in the legal profession or the legal practice. So, you would also have your own share of people’s curses when they curse those who spoil the system, so be very careful!
When it comes to upholding the ethical conducts by lawyers, the provisions of Rule 1 of the Rules of Professional Conducts for Legal Practitioners, 2007-herein after referred to as the RPC- is a leading code for lawyers which provides thus ‘A lawyer shall uphold and observe the rule of law, promote and foster the cause of justice, maintain a high standard of professional conduct, and shall not engage in any conduct which is unbecoming of a legal practitioner’. (Underlining is mine for emphasis). Therefore, it is important that this provision leads a lawyer as a code of his practice. The fact that a lawyer is compelled to do that which is unethical would largely not avail him as he is individually responsible for his inaction or breach of such RPC.
Finally, it is my advice that young lawyers must spend a little time daily to always assess where they were (yesterday), where they are (today) and where they are likely to be (in the few years to come), for he who does not know where he is going, goes to where he finds himself!