Young lawyer to Principal

“Sir, I expect that you don’t just be a principal to me, but also a mentor, interestingly, I believe that’s what the profession also expects from you. The kind of lawyer I would turn out to be in years to come, to a large extent is dependent on how you go about carrying this assignment. I would be learning a great deal from you even without you knowing it…” Letter to my principal {}

Taking a cue from this young wig’s letter to his principal, it is evident that juniors in the legal profession expect seniors to serve as mentors, not just employers of labour and help contribute in the molding and shaping of their practice as they climb the ladder. Experience cannot be traded in the market, our learned seniors are vastly experienced in handling legal matters; they know how best to manage a client relationship, how to charge for and offer legal services, how to package a product and more, all the young lawyer asks is that he should be given the coaching and opportunities to explore his potential.

This writer was nearly moved to tears when the mother of a young wig was complaining bitterly how it took so long to train her son to become a legal practitioner, now he is five years at the Bar and yet, she contributes to his upkeep and accommodation. I thought of consoling words to say to her like “madam don’t worry, it would soon be over”, or “madam, it takes patience and hard work for one to reap the benefits of the legal profession”, but those words could not come out of my mouth, why? Because majority of young wigs’ parents {the writer inclusive} are making the same complaints and words alone cannot salvage the situation.

The irony to this however is that every lawyer is a potential millionaire, in shorter than fifteen (15) minutes a lawyers bank account digit can change dramatically {and I mean jaw breaking difference} in handling one legal deal; so where lies the fault? Why are young wigs despite the hard work, determination, patience, commitment et al not at that level yet, why is it difficult for a young wig practicing in Nigeria with four or five years post call experience to have a savings account worth one hundred thousand naira {N100,000}? Is the spending habit or lifestyle of the young wig responsible for what makes him closer to broke than affluence? Who is in a better position to show these young wigs across the country how to fish?

“Teach me, not just how to collect appearance fee, but also teach me the techniques you use in billing clients, I expect that you teach me, not just the practice of law, but also the business of law, I expect that you consciously teach me all that you know that I need to know to become the best I can be as a lawyer.”

This cry of a young wig is genuine and innocent, we are most times accused of not having the patience to learn the job, that all we pursue is money, but this goes beyond the financial, a young wig is like a cub in the jungle, he can only learn the nitty gritty of the profession through the eyes of his principal. If a young wig comes to office looking shabby and unkempt, the principal as a father, should inquire why his employee is not immaculately dressed, principals should have the ability to influence the character and attitude of a young wig towards life in general. He needs someone to show him how best to manage life and its expectations on the one hand, the legal profession and its divergent difficulties on the other hand.

As a senior, mentoring juniors is not restricted to lawyers in thy chambers alone; every junior colleague that comes across to thee, requires your guidance, wisdom or experience on how he can become a better gentleman. We want to learn but not knowledge restricted to litigation, we want an all-encompassing knowledge that would make others see your contributions in me; it is a thing of joy for both the mentor and the protégé.

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