Excerpts from a paper titled, “So, You Want To Be A Lawyer: Career Prospects in the Legal Profession, Skills and Ethics Taught at the Nigerian Law School and NLS Students’ and Lecturers’ Expectations” by Sylvester C. Udemezue (Udems) (a paper delivered on December 03, 2021, at the Academic Induction Workshop for New Students of the Nigerian Law School in the 2021/2022 Academic Session]
Career Opportunities In the Law Profession
In-house Law Job;
ADR Practice & Consultancy;
Adjudication (Justices, Judges, Magistrates, Chairmen of Tribunals)
Judicial Assistance & Consultancy
Company Secretarial Job/Administration
Law Journalism (Law Editors, Columnists, Law Correspondents, etc in the Print, Broadcasting and New Media and Publishing Houses)
Law Capacity Development Practice (organising workshops, seminars, webinars, conferences, etc)
Legislation (NOTE: being a legislator is entirely different from being a legislative draftsman. Only lawyers can be legislative draftsmen. On the other hand, you do not need to be a lawyer in order to be a legislator, although lawyers can be legislators and indeed make better legislators if they have requisite skills)
Military and Para-Military careers
Law ICT Resources and Support Development & Consultancy
Education (Law Education; setting up schools for teaching/training in law courses, skills, values and ethics)
Skills Necessary to Excel in the Law Profession
Legal Writing Skills (includes all manner of law writing: writing of briefs, letters, agreements, articles, books, papers, legal opinions, memos, reports, etc)
Legal Drafting Skils
Judgment writing Skills
Secretarial Administration Skills
Logical Reasoning Skills
Report Writing Skills
Law Reporting Skills
Interpersonal Relationship Skills
Time Management Skills
Creative problem solving Skills;
Organisation Skills (ability to prioritise and remain focused among competing priorities)
Resilience and self-confidence skills
Skills for Attention to details
Commercial Awareness Skills (includes making deliberate and consistent efforts and taking steps to keep constantly in the know of current developments in local, national and world space in the field/profession, particularly issues likely to impact a law firm and or its clients)
Legal Ethics-Observance Skills — Ethics itself is not necessarily a law skill, but ability to observe legal ethics and values requires cultivation of some habit/skill. Besides, success in any of the above-named law careers depends, not only on sufficient possession of requisite knowledge and skills, but also and especially on the practitioner’s willingness and ability to diligently imbibe and faithfully observe the ethics and values of the law profession and of his/her area of specialization. Truth is, law floats in a sea of ethics. This is perhaps why Kilroy J. Oldster said, “Any attorney with a conscience always speaks the truth. An attorney can and should practice law in a scrupulous manner…”. Laws and principles are not only for the times when there is no temptation; they are also for such moments when body and soul rise in mutiny against laws, ethics and principles. If at one’s convenience, one might break the laws and principles ethics, then what would be their worth? “Ethics is doing more than the law requires and less than the law allows”, says Michael Josephson. Potter Stewart puts it this way: “Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do”. American author and philosopher Aldo Leopold once said “Ethical behaviour is doing the right thing when no one else is watching — [and] even when doing the wrong thing is legal.” Generally, observance of legal ethics is not a matter of choice or of convenience, but of prime obligation; being a good lawyer is inseparable from being an ethical lawyer. More often than not, ethical dilemmas occur when, in the practice of our profession, we find ourselves in situations or circumstances that conflict with our personal values (convictions) and legal ethics. It need to be said here that no one needs observance of professional ethics and values more than Law Teachers. Professional ethics is like a guide, which facilitates the teacher to provide quality education and inculcate good values among the learners. … It also helps the teachers to understand their profession as teachers. Their role is not just to become supreme and authoritarian in front of their students and colleagues (See: Dr. R. Joshi https://www.academia.edu). Some of the main aims of ethics and values in legal/law education are to stimulate ethical reflection, awareness, responsibility, and compassion, to provide insight into important ethical principles and values, and to equip an individual with key cognitive and noncognitive (moral) intellectual capacities (See: Michael Peters <https://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry). According to Mary Gentile, author of Giving Voice to Values: How to Speak Your Mind when You Know What’s Right, the best and the easiest way to abide by ethics is for people to feel moved to act or to express their values even when they find themselves in situations and circumstances which conflict with them, regardless of who is watching or whether it is legal. Emphasizing the crucial role of practice in the process of acquisition and observance of the ethical code of behaviour, Gentle says this could be achieved through what she described as “the three steps to ethical behaviour”: preparing, anticipating, and practising (PAP). At the Nigerian Law School, Professional Legal Ethics and practice skills are taught and learned through a combination of various modes, namely:
During the Professional Ethics & Skills Module lectures and interactive sessions;
During Interactive Sessions in each of the other four Modules;
During Mentoring Sessions and other formal interactions between lecturers and aspirants to the bar;
During Special Lectures, delivered to Law School students from time to time, in the course of their program at the NLS;
During Portfolio Assessment;
During the Externship Program (in Courts and Law offices)
During Moot and Mock Trials and practice sessions;
Through Personal Efforts and Self Development;
Through Constant Practice — Whatever you have to learn to do, you learn faster by actually doing it. In respect of ethics, etc ., see also the following:
An Appraisal of Legal Ethics and Proper Conduct for Lawyers in Nigeria” by S. C. Udemezue. (2021) Vol. 21, No. 17, Jun 3, 2021, Legal Ethics & Professional Responsibility eJournal. <https://hq.ssrn.com/Journals/Issue Proof.cfm? abstractid = 3842835&journalid = 205108&issue _ number = 17 & volume = 21&journal _ type = CMBO & function = showissue > accessed December 03, 2021
“Contemporary Training at the Nigerian Law school: An Insider’s Account” by S. C. Udemezue. <https://udemsyl.wordpress.com/2017/01/29/education-at-the-nigerian-law-school-an-insiders-acount/> accessed December 03, 2021
“Nigerian Law School Program is Not ‘Self-taught’ But Teacher-Taught, Teacher-Driven in Line with Contemporary Benchmarks and International Best Practices” by S. C. Udemezue <http://loyalnigerianlawyer.com/nigerian-law-school-program-is-not-self-taught-but-teacher-taught-teacher-driven-in-line-with-contemporary-benchmarks-and-international-best-practices/> accessed December 03, 2021.
How Young Lawyers Can Survive And Thrive” By S.C. Udemezue <https://citylawyermag.com/2020/07/20/how-young-lawyers-can-survive-and-thrive-by-udemezue/> accessed December 03, 2021
“Hints for Academic Excellence (to Help You Excel at Bar Final Examinations)” by S.C. Udemezue <https://dnllegalandstyle.com/2021/udems-hints-for-academic-excellence-to-help-you-excel-at-bar-final-examinations/> accessed December 03, 2021.
NOTE: There are many other career opportunities for lawyers but not necessarily within the legal profession. Examples abound of so many other things lawyers can do and do very effectively. Take as examples, politics, other businesses or trade; manufacturing, etc. There is a difference between “Career Opportunities In the Law Profession” and “Careeer Opportunities for Lawyers”. Sometimes, the dividing line is thin becasue some careers appear difficult to categorize. However, one easy way of distinguishing the two classes is to note that the latter class of opportunities appears much wider in scope than the former, in that the latter comprises all careers within the former and much more falling outside it. But it is the former class that mostly requires professional legal skills for attainment of excellence, although some of these law/legal skills may be essential for excellence even when a lawyers takes up a career that falls well outside the law/legal profession. For an example, a lawyer in politics needs, among others, some legal skills to succeed even in politics (communication, inter-personal relationship, teamwork, organisation, time management, creative problem-solving, Resilience and self-confidence skills, Skills for Attention to details, Commercial Awareness Skills, Ethics-Observance, among others)
The main paper, which discusses these points in details, will be published shortly.
By: Sylvester Udemezue
Udemezue wrote from the Nigerian Law School.
Court Rules On Dagogo’s Application, Friday
The embattled governorship aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party in Rivers State and a member of Federal House of Representatives representing Degema /Bonny federal constituency, Hon Farah Dagogo has pleaded not guilty to the two counts charge of cultism and felony.
He was alleged to have attempted the disruption of screening exercise of PDP in the state in the charge filed against him by Rivers state government at the state High Court in Port Harcourt, Monday.
The embattled federal lawmaker was properly arraigned at the state High Court presided over by Justice Chinwendu Nworgu where he took his plea on the two-count charge on cultism and disruption of PDP screening exercise in Port Harcourt ,recently .
The charge sheet read before the court, that “you Farah Dagogo and others now at large are alleged to have on the 27th of April, 2022 invaded PDP party secretariat on Aba Road with firearms causing panic with intention to disrupt screening exercise of the party”.
However, when the charges were read out, the accused, Hon Farah Dagogo who was brought to the court on wheelchair pleaded not guilty and thereafter, his Counsel informed the court of his bail application and cited some sections of the Rivers State law High Court rule and practice which authorises the court to grant bail to his client after withdrawing preliminary objection on the jurisdiction of the court to entertain and hear the matter.
Opposing the motion, the prosecution counsels led by the Attorney General of the state and Commissioner for Justice, Hon Zacheaus Adango (SAN) in his response, objected to the application, saying that bail application could not be tendered.
He argued that there was a pending motion on preliminary objection on the jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter which must be determined first and therefore asked the court to dismiss the bail application motion.
Trial Judge, Justice Chinwendu Nworgu after listening to the various arguments from both the defending and prosecution counsels adjourned the matter to Friday, 20th of May, 2022 for consideration of bail application and possible commencement of proper trial, of the matter and directed that the accused be remanded in correctional centre, while also advised that he should be taken back to Rivers State University Teaching Hospital where he is taking medical attention.
Speaking to newsmen outside the courtroom, the Attorney General, Zaccheaus Adango, who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, explained what transpired in court, saying that the state opposed the bail application of the defendant.
On his own part, one of the Counsels to Farah Dagogo, Emmanuel Rukani, expressed concern that despite the fact that their client was brought to court on wheelchair, the court still adjourned his bail application but expressed hope that the court would look at the process before it and do justice to the matter on the next adjourned date.
By: Amadi Akujobi
N6.9bn Fraud: Absence Of Witnesses Stalls Fayose’s Trial
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, yesterday, adjourned until July 4, the continuation of trial of former Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, who was charged with money laundering and fraud.
The trial, which was earlier scheduled for continuation, was adjourned due to unavailability of prosecution witnesses.
Fayose is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for N6.9billion fraud and money laundering.
When the case was called, yesterday, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), announced appearance for prosecution.
Messrs U.U. Njoku and Olalekan Ojo (SAN) announced appearance for Fayose (first defendant) and his company, Spotlight Investment Ltd. which is the second defendant.
Jacobs told the court that two prosecution witnesses, billed to testify, yesterday, were unavailable.
According to him, prosecution’s 12th witness was unavailable due to political party’s primary election while the other witness was occupied with another matter.
He prayed the court to grant an adjournment, saying that he had already informed the defence team of the development.
Both defence counsel did not object to the request for adjournment.
Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke consequently adjourned the case for continuation of trial.
Fayose was first arraigned on October 22, 2018, before Justice Mojisola Olatotegun, alongside his company, Spotless Investment Ltd. on an 11-count charge.
He had pleaded not guilty to the charge and was granted bail on October 24, 2018, in the sum of N50million with sureties in like sum.
The former governor was, however, re-arraigned before Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke on July 2, 2019, after the case was withdrawn from Justice Olatoregun, following EFCC’s petition.
He also pleaded not guilty before Aneke, and was allowed to continue on the earlier bail.
At the last adjourned date in December 2021, EFCC called its 11th witness, Mrs Joanne Tolulope, who narrated how Abiodun Agbele, an associate of Fayose, allegedly illegally bought property worth several millions of Naira.
During the trial before Olatoregun, EFCC called witnesses from several commercial banks, as well as a former Minister of State for Defence, Sen. Musiliu Obanikoro.
According to the charge, on June 17, 2014, Fayose and Agbele illegally took possession of N1.2billion for purposes of funding his gubernatorial election campaign in Ekiti.
Fayose allegedly received cash payment of $5million (about N1.8billion) from Obanikoro without going through any financial institution.
He was also alleged to have retained the sum of N300million in his account and illegally took control of the aggregate sum of about N622million.
Fayose was also alleged to have procured De Privateer Ltd. and Still Earth Ltd. to unlawfully retain the aggregate sum of N851million
Besides, the defendant was alleged to have illegally used about N1.6billion to acquire property in Lagos and Abuja.
He was also alleged to have used the sum of N200million to acquire a property in Abuja in the name of his elder sister, Moji Oladeji, which sum he ought to know also formed crime proceeds.
The alleged offences contravene the provisions of Sections 15(1), 15 (2), 15 (3), 16(2)(b), 16 (d), and 18 (c) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011.
Landlord Butchers Female Tenant, Fiancee In PH
A landlord and owner of a compound at Ekwulobia Street Mile 3, Diobu, Port Harcourt has allegedly butchered his female tenant, Miss Comfort Nwagadi and her fiancee, Mr Stanley Nwagadi for dating each other, saying that his tenant was dating a man she reportedly takes care of.
Speaking with our reporter at her hospital bed, Comfort Nwagadi said the incident happened on Saturday night.
She was rushed to hospital Sunday morning when her health condition was deterrioting after the landlord attacked her.
Speaking from her admission bed, the victim of the attack said, she washed and spread her clothes on the rope on that fateful day and the landlord of the compound who is also residing in the compound removed her washed clothes where she had spread them and they fell down on the ground.
She averred that when she went to pick up the clothe, her landlord started abusing her that she was keeping a man she feed and takes care of adding that in the wake of the abuse, her fiancee came in and heard the utterances from the landlord popularly called Alabo, and both had exchange of words.
Comfort stated that she and her fiancee left after the exchange of words with the landlord but
unknown to them that the said landlord had sharpened a machete and was already waiting for them.
The moment she walked into the compound as she came back with her fiancee from where they went to, the landlord rushed her with a machete and started cutting her.
Her fiancee who ran to save her on hearing her scream, was also cut twice on his head and hand before the landlord ran away.
Also speaking, Mr Stanley Nwagadi told our reporter that he rushed to save his fiancee when she was screaming from the machete cuts she received from their landlord and called for justice on the matter.
Our correspondent who visited the intending couple at hospital reports that Comfort had four machete cuts on the head, three at her fingers while the fiancee Stanley had two machete cuts on the head and left hand.
Police Officers from Azikiwe Police Division, Iloabuchi Mile 2 Diobu who spoke undercover said he had also visited the intending couple at the hospital where they were receiving treatment.
However, when contacted on phone, the acting spokesperson of the state police command, DSP Grace Iringe Koko said she was yet to be briefed on the matter.
By: Amadi Akujobi
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