The lawyers in Joseph Okusare’s extended family stood out. So, he made it his goal to become one. But, along the way, Okusare developed love for technology. He tells ROBERT EGBE that he wants to disrupt the legal system with it.
My family and I
I am Joseph Okusare, also known as Joci. My family circle is quite small. We are just three children and I decided to be the second child (chuckles). My parents are government workers. I am from Ethoipe East Local Government Area of Delta State. None of my nuclear family members are lawyers, but we have a lot of lawyers in my extended family.
‘School was interesting’
My time at the University of Abuja was interesting. I got involved in politics a little. I was the Financial Secretary of the Law Faculty and I was actively involved in my school state chapter politics. I was the Public Relations Officer (PRO) for my state association in the university. I learnt a lot and I use most of the experience learnt from it today. I finished from the University of Abuja before proceeding to the Nigerian Law School, Kano Campus. I was called to the Bar in October, 2015.
‘Lawyers in my family were different’
Law for me actually just happened. My Dad had constantly wanted one of his children to be a lawyer, and that subconsciously made me feel like I was born to fulfil that desire. But, the burning desire to study law came from my uncles. I grew up having a lot of lawyers around. They were totally different in the family and I wanted to be different. Law for me is a call to help others, and that gave birth to my sojourn into the legal profession.
Kano was scary at first
Kano was scary at first for me. When a colleague called and said: ‘Joci you are posted to Kano Law School’, I almost fainted (laughs). Violence from (terrorist group) Boko Haram was well pronounced during that period in the North and my parents had to debate for a long time if they should allow me go to Kano. I love taking risks and I constantly wanted to see how Kano was. So, I made up my mind to go there. Kano brought so much fun. There was a lake nearby and I met a lot of wonderful people there. Actually, Kano caused me to experience my first heartbreak, but let’s leave the details out (laughs), because it still hurts a little here (touches the heart).
Why my parents missed my Call to Bar
My parents really wanted to be at my Call to Bar, but it held on the same day both of them had their promotional examinations, so they couldn’t attend. But I told them not to worry, because my siblings were around to celebrate it with me.
Most embarrassing day in court
The first day I appeared alone in court, I neither suffered any embarrassment nor stammered unnecessarily. I was always involved in school politics at the university, so all my natural shyness died a long time.
But there was an incident that I will not forget in a hurry. I am not really comfortable saying this, but let’s take a bite (laughs). During my National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) days, I was told to handle a trial. I quickly prepared even though I was told only that morning. In court, the prosecution amended the charge sheet, so the defendant was re-arraigned. The court then asked if I was ready to proceed. I said yes, I was ready for trial (laughs). It took a lot of hints from the court and advice from senior colleagues in court for me to understand that I was supposed to reapply for the bail of the accused person (laughs). I felt so embarrassed. Whenever I find myself in that situation now, I always smile and laugh at that experience. It almost made me give up on legal practice. I am, however, grateful for that experience today as I talk about it now and laugh.
Love for technology
I love unboxing any tech challenges. I love to write and that informed my decision to open two blogs, which I hosted and created myself. One is law related and the other is tech related. You can visit www.legalpanic.com to see some of my write-ups.
Creating the first ever all Laws of Federation of Nigeria (LFN) App
Young lawyers are constantly faced with the take it or leave it pay. The Nigerian Legal profession is oppressive and competitive in nature. However, a young lawyer must think outside the box. A lawyer is a potential money magnet, whether young or old. He only needs information to be rich. Young lawyers should seek bigger projects. For instance, I constantly went to Google playstore to find an app that has all the Federal Laws in Nigeria and I couldn’t find any as at that time. This motivated me to bring on a partner on board and we both created the first ever all Laws of Federation of Nigeria (LFN) App on Android. We now have other apps on Google playstore and we are constantly working on producing more content apps. So, young lawyers should not wait for opportunities, but rather think creatively.
How I got my heart broken at Law School
I always yearn for a lawyer as a wife and that brought the heartbreak story I spoke of earlier (laughs). A lawyer as a wife will understand all your legal jargon and busy schedules. Truth is right now, I only pray for a wife from God, lawyer or not. Plus, I’m too busy for another heartbreak. (Laughs).
Why I want to disrupt the legal system
I am constantly in a lot of talks with some other lawyers to disrupt the legal system with technology. Lawyers are now impatient with the old ways of processing and delivering legal services. This generation of lawyers is the luckiest as everything is now moving towards technology. So, my plan is to further disrupt the traditional ways of practice. Law practice should be made simple and not complex.
I am a big fan of Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN). I hope to be like him someday.
SAN, Professor or Judge?
A SAN obviously (laughs). Professors and Judges are in a world where I feel my desired cravings for such massive tech and changes won’t be seen.
I hope to be the governor of my state someday. So, watch out people (laughs).
Culled from TheNation