When I Was A Young Lawyer

when I was a young lawyer
Bayo Akinlade Esq.
I consider myself fortunate growing in this profession especially through CLASFON.

I had many mentors in the many past presidents and national executive members  of CLASFON, chairmen and executives of CLASFON Branches in over 20 states in Nigeria mentored me in more ways I can imagine.

I was more than fortunate as a young lawyer. Prior to being a lawyer, as a student and leader in the Christian law students fellowship at the national level I was exposed to lawyers from all over. I had access to judges from the high court up to the Supreme Court. I went to their homes and spent hours with them, learning from them. I was always happy to run errands for them and just be available to them because I learnt early in life that making yourself available to others is the best way to build yourself as an individual.

I immediately got a job working with Prof. Bankole Sodipo [the then president of CLASFON]. Straight out of law school, prof. Sodipo appointed me the national field representative of CLASFON. I travelled to more than 20 states in Nigeria doing that job. Visited NBA Branches, Judges, law students and law schools.

I guess it was my activities in this regard and my devotion to the NBA LAGOS BRANCH that led to my being offered the position of the 2nd assistant secretary of Lagos Branch during the Abiodun Dabiri led Exco. I worked [even on weekends] with Justice Sumbo Goodluck who was then the Branch Secretary. I was the youngest in the exco. Jumping from one exco member to the other, eager to serve each one of them in their capacity. Justice Balogun was 1st Vice Chairman then while Justice Taiwo was 2nd Vice Chairman. I tried not to miss an opportunity to learn from them.

My role as Clasfon national field rep and 2nd assistant secretary of the NBA Lagos branch simultaneously, made me think of how much young lawyers could gain, and even add value to the development of the NBA.

I supplied new ideas and new approaches through the energies I had. Being newly married, I wasn't bugged down with any major responsibilities so my mind was free to innovate.

It wasn't too long that an international organisation spotted me and I had to relocate... I was barely 3 years at the Bar when this happened.

Today, many young lawyers are not that eager as I was to serve. Many factors are at play and are responsible for this. But then again, it's an individual thing. When I came back to Nigeria and became secretary of NBA Ikorodu Branch, I convinced my chairman to set up our first YLF and he graciously did. My passion and over excitement with them and following them around cost me a bit and even made me a laughing stock

I discovered the hard way that things had changed in Nigeria. In my young lawyer days, your senior was never wrong, they were you symbol of wisdom and professionalism... You wouldn't question them [even if you didn't like them]. Every hardness you suffered from them was seen as part of the training you needed to succeed as a lawyer.

Some had principals they termed wicked etc. I was a bit more fortunate to have a principal who allowed me to express myself and when I did it my way and failed, allowed me to try again.

Today our young lawyers are not so obedient, long suffering or even devoted to a cause. In the NBA, they have been used as pawns to achieve some selfish agendas of some seniors who know their weaknesses and can exploit same.

Only few young lawyers really know what they want and can be patient enough to grow and learn the ropes before venturing out.

The compulsory pulpilage program can't work under the current circumstances of fragmented practice culture were we all have our own practice. One man practice constitutes more than 80% of the legal culture in Nigeria making it difficult to provide good basic training for young lawyers.

Many senior lawyers cannot afford to take a young lawyer under their wings today because of economic considerations. Training and capacity building are only second place to economic consideration.

I constantly ask myself today if I have not contributed to the problem of young lawyers. Have I tried enough to give them room for self expression and self realization?

By Bayo Akinlade Esq

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