…occasionally, even the Law gets wet!
Yea; its knotty business and Lawyers are a stiff crowd. But on this spot the ties droop a notch and the starch comes off the collars to allow some hilarity seep in. This weekly buffet will be freely served and the bar is all set with the right spirits. WARNING: Any minute, we may suddenly disappear from your screen without notice, locked up “at milord’s pleasure” for Contempt.
fantasies; often I have been called a head-lost-in-the-clouds
dreamer. I love that tag. Dreams are not
always the escapist pastime of a slothful mind- they may subconsciously provide
the seedlings for the birth of great ideas. Yes, dreams are
not real, but when they come to life, present reality changes. Dreams
precipitate change. As a dreamer
therefore, I am an agent of change…
I had lapsed
into this philosophico-poetic mood
after I was roundly battered in an argument with some of my young lawyer friends the other day. We were
discussing the sense (or lack of it) in the restriction of advertisements
in the legal profession in Nigeria,
by the Rules of Professional Conduct. I was
passionately of the view that the provisions of the rules are too stifling and inconsistent
with the modern world.
publicity the Rules allow is; a reasonably
sized sign-post in front of the practitioner’s office.
‘Many people do not even notice those signs, their
bleary black and white prints are swallowed by more interesting items on the
landscape’ I had stated. ‘Can you win clients that way?’
ultra-conservative friend Edward had interjected ‘a good lawyer needs not be aided by psychedelia, let your records
‘But that is the point!’ I
had screamed ‘how do you transmit the
said records without adverts?’
‘Simple, does the law not permit you to affix your
qualifications on your business cards?’that
was from Mike, another incurable stiff-back.
‘It is not enough’ I insisted ‘we need to spice up the whole thing a lot
‘Do you then recommend that we slide to the arena of
pedestrian trivia?’ Samuel-every inch a stuffed shirt - murmured.
‘Yes!’ I was getting
heated up. ‘We need to leave our lofty pinnacle
and approach equal altitude with the people we are supposed to serve in the
‘My friend, I think you have what it takes to
conquer the world, but first you must wake up from your silly dreams’
Edward delivered the masterstroke.
The rest of my
well laid submissions were drowned in laughter.
Now in my quiet moment,
I am convinced more than ever that my views are workable.
that the law goes over their heads, lawyers are a mysterious horde, and thus,
it takes a fair dose of courage to walk into the hallowed interiors of their
sepulchral chambers. End result; the
propagation of a populace completely apathetic to litigation and invariably, a
proliferation of poor lawyers.
Where then is
the dignity which the rules seek to preserve?
What is the way
forward? Easy, obliterate the rules!
should be allowed to do away with the reasonable
size and sober design cliché from their sign-posts and in their stead, put
up eye-catching, life size billboards, amply bedecked with neon lights. Having done
this, the lawyers’ gifts of imagination which have been asphyxiated over the years
shall be given new life. Their battle of
wits will seep beyond the confines of cross-examination and evolve into bits of
humorous catchphrasesfor their law
Slogans like: ‘You will never turn in your Grave…’
inscribed boldly at the bottom corner of business cards and posters will better
buttress expertise in Wills and Testaments than a dry list of L.L.M.s and L.L.D.s. In the same vein,
the words: ‘When the Police is not your
Friend, We kick his butt’ bestows a Charge and Bail specialist with more
class and appeal. And if you want
to sweep home all the clients in town, a most fitting slogan is: ‘At Z & I Group…we dine with the judges…’
This will be
followed by press-conferences, interviews and documentaries of landmark cases
where the firm had obtained favourable judgement. It will become
common while flipping through the pages to see colourful promos broadcasting:
An Irresistible Litigation Bundle Offer from the Law
Offices of Clement & George.
Submit three briefs in 6months and win yourself a pro
Hurry while offer lasts…
Not to be beaten,
a rival Law firm will contract a rave of the moment celebrity, say D’Banj to
appear on national TV, complete in his dark shades, plus the venerated wig and
gown! : ‘if you are not sitting with S
& J Associates, you are on a loooong case!’
Outside a few
cardiac seizures to prim and proper hearts, the effect on the profession will
be largely positive.
Law offices will
overflow with customers, oops, clients; the movement would have bred a new
mind-set in the citizens. We all hate what
we cannot understand, so if the people get to recognize that the lawyer is just
another average entrepreneur hustling for his daily bread and butter alongside other ordinary species of humanity, they
shall open their arms wide in fraternity. The great wall of
suspicion will collapse; a harmonious accord will be reached. The publicized
competition will pull down litigation costs, creating a more legally responsive
society… and the lawyers will reap the plums of increased patronage. It is Eldorado in the making!
Of course, to complete
this revolution, every serious minded Law firm will engage in some bit of ambulance
chasing. The phrase would
be renamed to purge it of every derogatory taint, it will simply be called-Marketing. Paralegal staff
and interns will be posted on strategic locations in the streets. (A welcome change
from sitting and rotting away over mountains of case files). Everyday,
persons get knocked down by over speeding cars, fall from dislodged kerbs and
get hit by falling objects from overloaded trucks…The field staff
will be on standby with sheaves of handbills. These handbills
contain detailed workings of the victim-counsel settlement ratio when the negligence suit is won, and shall be
distributed to families of the victims. When no family
member is around, it will suffice to discreetly press same into the hands of
the victim as he is being stretchered
Oh, I am
different; reality is contained in the Rules. The Rules say
that unfettered advertisement brings
the profession to disrepute, creates prejudice and does not foster fairness in
the legal practice. Maybe this is
right, maybe not…time will tell. Our world is
being fast unravelled; there are no more sacred grounds. Flow with the
stream or get stagnated behind. Last year, an
Australian High court affirmed that court processes can be served on Facebook! What more can I
say? I am eagerly
waiting for our rules to be unbuckled to that degree. I already have the
advert slogan for my law office waiting. I am keeping it
simple: "Life is BRIEF; Get a Lawyer…"
I rest my
First published in Thisday Newspapers: February 3, 2009