‘Get a good name first and all other things shall be added unto you’.
The name of a legal professional contributes significantly to the client base of a lawyer. The name a lawyer makes in the legal profession is what generates the client base he/she requires to survive in the industry, thus, his fees. It is that asset called a ‘name’ that would give a legal professional the right connection to meet the right people.
A colleague of mine while discussing the topic opined that referral does not really work, as he is yet to get a brief from referrals. When I asked how many years his post call, he replied three (3) years. I then asked a senior colleague of thirteen (13) years post call, how many briefs he had gotten from referrals, and his response was he could not count. My point being, for a legal professional to begin to get referrals in the industry, he/she must have rendered satisfactory service to clients and colleagues for a number of years to earn the name for a referral.
A name is sooner lost than won. It takes years of diligence, integrity and commitment to build a name with reputation and a split second to demolish. The great names of the legal profession had their own fair share of obstacles and challenges when starting, but they were resilient, paid their dues and are now reaping the bountiful proceeds that would last a life time.
Names like late Chief Rotimi Williams (SAN), late Gani Fawehimi who was popularly known as Senior Advocates of the Masses (SAN) before he became a learned silk, Chief Richard Akinjide (SAN), Chief Afe Babalola (SAN), Femi Falana (SAN) amongst others who successfully carved a niche for themselves and become legends did not achieve the accolades in a day; they all started from somewhere, they were one-time Law students before becoming one-year post call and so on till their accomplishments.
Upon entry into the legal profession, focus your efforts and energy in aspects of the industry that will encourage a unique name for yourself. There are over one hundred and twenty thousand smart and brilliant lawyers in the country. To be different, a lawyer must be willing to put on a garb different from what everyone is wearing. It is not only litigation that makes one a practicing area, if you are good in negotiations or corporate governance, become an authority in that field, that way, when someone thinks of Alternative Dispute Resolution, the first name that comes to mind, is yours.
Truth be told, the challenges a lawyer faces on his/her way to becoming a reputable name in the industry, are no doubt daunting and numerous, yet not a reason to falter. Do not be misled by the temptations of fast cash. Money is good but not at the expense of a name. There are certain seniors that have lost their respect in the industry, because they have been judicially noticed as masters of sharp practice. If name was not important, those seniors would not be regarded in such a disdainful manner, but rather over the years, they have been consistent in a particular kind of practice that is obvious to the eyes of everyone.
In the same vein, if a legal professional sows good attributes like integrity, commitment, dedication, hard and smart work to a name, in the nearest future, he/she will be referred to as a lawyer that knows his/her onions. A name is a non-verbal communication tool that reveals a person’s outspoken attitudes and emotions, in simple words, it reflects the character traits and feelings of a person.
It is a name that will distinguish you from the rest, it is a name that will bring the referral that a legal professional needs to succeed in the industry. So make a name first, and every other thing will be added unto you. Please bear in mind that some people might try to rubbish your name for one reason or the other, just remain true to yourself, stay focused, and always find a different path befitting to your person and career option, and in no time, a call will come in asking if you are so, and so, ‘I got your number from a colleague who said you are the best in this area, can we meet?’
“A good name it is said, outlives the bearer of the name”
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