[* Why not get a head start?

You’re going to want some income when this is over. Use those extra few minutes to engage in some low-risk, high-reward activities you can do now that will pay off later—guaranteed. Find a few minutes a week to make things happen so that, when you’re done, you’ll have more options for earning an income.

These are my top activities for every Nigerian lawyer must-do at first quarter of the year

Join Bar Associations (NBA)
Start with the bar association near your location. The NBA has special rates and opportunities for lawyers .Then branch out into the association where you’d like to work. Get involved. Typically, you’ll find low price (or free) memberships for young lawyers. Then engage, get involved, and use your membership. Lots of committees meet by conference call. A huge percentage of bar association activity takes place. Get engaged and look for opportunities to meet people and make yourself visible. Don’t wait.

Pay Bar Practicing Fee
Bar practice fee is an annual payment made by lawyers who were enrolled to practice as barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. This is based on some statutory provisions, the Rules of Professional Conduct 2007 provides that “a lawyer shall pay annual practicing fee not later than 31st March of every year. S. 3(2)(iii) of the NBA Constitution further provides that ” any member who fails or neglects to pay the prescribed annual practicing fees before the end of the stipulated time Will remain in default and will have no right of audience in court, to prepare, authenticate or frank any legal document, including Memorandum of Association and Article of Association, it will amount to professional misconduct.

He will not also be eligible to apply for stamp and seal, Notary Public, to vote and be voted for. S.8(2) of the Legal Practitioners Act(Cap L11)Laws of FRN clearly states that no legal practitioner shall be accorded the right of audience in any court in Nigeria in any year, unless he has paid to the Registrar in respect of that year, a practicing fee as from time to time prescribed by the Attorney- General of the Federation after consultation with the association ( Nigerian Bar Association).

However it is important to note that the provisions of the Legal Practitioners’ Act are statutory. Payment of professional fees gives every lawyer the license to practice aside being called to the bar it therefore means that it is very essential for all legal practitioners in this noble professional to abide to this statutory provisions. Any lawyer who is in default stands the chances of forfeiting every right enjoyed by legal practitioners in Nigeria. Furthermore, lawyers are not only expected to pay their practice fee but to also pay their branch dues.

Apply for Notary Public (Check if the application is ongoing)
Notary public is a public officer constituted by law to serve the public in non-contentious matter usually concerned with estates, deeds, power of attorney, foreign and international businesses.

While in Nigeria notaries are only conferred on senior lawyers who have been admitted to the Nigerian Bar for at least 7 years prior to the day of appointment and who scale through the very rigorous screening process to test their professional ability and integrity are appointed as Notary Public. They are qualified to authenticate documents, prepare, attest, verify, witness, certify originals and copy legal documents for use within Nigeria, which also perform same functions in respect of international documents for use outside Nigeria.

Each applicant must also be vouched for by at least ten judges of the High Court of the state where he/she practices to be successful. Notaries public are by law deemed as officers of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. In many countries of the world a document can only be accepted internationally if it has been notarized or formally authenticated and its genuineness and value verified and certified by a Notary Public. Once a legal practitioner is in good financial stand with the NBA, he has right to apply for public Notary.

Senior Advocate of Nigeria (Application for SAN Ongoing)
The rank of Senior advocate is a privilege award conferred on candidates who are legal practitioners called to the Nigerian Bar and candidates must be legal practitioners called to the bar and practicing in Nigeria as an advocate and must have been in active current legal practice for at least 10 years immediately preceding the date of application. To determine active legal practice.

Candidates must have excelled in advocacy and in exceptional cases to members of the legal profession who are academics and have made substantial contributions to the practice of law. Candidates must have paid consistently as at when due his practicing fees and membership dues to the local branch in the last 10 years preceding his application.

Candidates must be of good character and must have no pending disciplinary case or complaint relating to professional misconduct against him. Candidates must also be competent with sound knowledge of the law, demonstrate clear qualities of leadership and loyalty to the legal profession. Candidates must provide particulars of contested cases as follows: 8 judgments of the High Court 6 judgments of the Court of Appeal 3 judgments of the Supreme Court.

Attend Continuing Education Programs
Look for short course rates for continuing education programs and go for it. Specialize yourself in one or two areas to broaden and deepen your knowledge and understanding of law. One of the ways to achieve this is by Reading, as the saying goes “knowledge is power” you can only acquire this power” by the knowledge you got through the books you read.

Reading is a super easy way to expand your horizon, be well rounded to become a better person than you are already. Get enrolled into a short course of choice of specialization, choosing an area of choice to specialize on time is an essential way of finding success on your legal career.

Find out areas you think can interest you, ask questions from others who are already into it. Check out for low cost classes or an online sites that can help you acquire this knowledge. There are so many areas of the law you can specialize in, like International law, Criminal law, Intellectual property law, Commercial law, Environmental Law, Marine time law, Oil and Gas law and so many others.

Use the programs to meet lawyers and start building your network. Strike up a conversation with the lawyer to your left and to your right, and use the breaks strategically. Personally, Getting to know lawyers, especially in years two and three, is more valuable.

File Review
As a Lawyer you have to always find time to review your case files and series to ensure that your commitment to your client is not in any way compromised with others. By doing so, you are not only securing the confidence of your client but your devotion to their best interest will never be queried.

Unini Chioma K.Esq

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