…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.
The setting is a danfo, parked under the sweltering heat
of a particularly grumpy afternoon, the blazing orb kindling the metal
encasement of the bus with a view to gradually barbecue the mass within. Sweaty flesh glides against sweaty flesh
as the passengers grudgingly adjust for the next to come in, searing tempers,
curses and grumbles. The minutes traipse along and the sun steadily creeps
towards a blistering climax.
He sits calmly, seemingly oblivious
to the double dosage of heat his black suit is wooing to him, face stuck to the
magazine which he interchanges as a hand fan. Beads of sweat tumble down his
prematurely wrinkled face, he flicks them off with his fingers, he has no
Thankfully the bus finally fills
up, with promises of at least some air and motion but the conductor is evidently
deriving some warped satisfaction from the general discomfiture and insists on
collecting the fare before the bus moved an inch. Maledictions rain down his
head from the incensed passengers.
The fellow, apparently no
stranger to evil wishes smilingly remains deaf to the mounting rancor and
cheekily stretches out his hands to each cursing passenger, taking all the time
in the world to fish for change … it eventually gets to our gentleman’s turn to
pay and he digs out an unnaturally crumpled note, the conductor rejects it
instantly and tosses it back to him, the veneer of calm wears off and the
gentleman inaugurates his own tirade drowning out all others, with emphasis on
the unschooled mind of the ruffian being
the propelling force behind his wretchedness. Unfortunately the conductor
deciphers the word wretched and bunches
his fist menacingly close to the gentleman’s face, inspiring the latter to
bellow out an introduction… ‘I am a
lawyer! Dare you touch me and see if I
don’t bundle you to a place where touts of your kind are housed’ We all
turn, and indeed the gentleman has a starched collar on.
At the word lawyer, the conductor’s anger melts away…and is replaced by loud
raucous laughter which lasts two full minutes. ‘Lawyer!’ He chokes, making
a derisive sweeping gesture with his left hand, ‘Olorun! So if lawyers start to de come out even this one go follow…why
you no fit buy your own car put AC for am? See as im wear coat under sun…me I
no be lawyer but at least I get sense to wear only singlet as the afternoon hot
so’. (Here I recognized slight similarities in the hygienic state of the
said singlet and the gentleman’s collar)
Many more of the conductor’s epigrams
were swallowed by laughter; the passengers were at last getting their moneys
worth… I felt like shedding tears for the poor fellow.
This happened years ago. If it
were now, maybe my reaction would have been more proactive. Do we not owe a duty
to our learned friends?
Duty...that’s a word we throw around so carelessly in the legal
profession, sweet sounding jargon as ‘rights
and duties are co-relatives, civilized society would be elusive without an
effective interplay of both…blah blah blah…’
Now, that was one of a class in
that bus, a class of victims of a duty-free
legal practice, convenient pawns to be tossed about in pursuit of the bigger
They abound, and are so easily
spotted: Greying white shirts, oversized suits, trousers creased and folded in
multiple places, and when the jacket comes off, the damp ring around the armpit
region testifies to a hard life in a hard job.
Yes, that is the package many an Associate
(how that word deceives!) in our Law firms are turned out in. Does it mean they
lack decent taste…I wonder
Assigned all the dirty and
back-breaking work, they take home barely enough to lift them over the
destitution line. You can sight them
anywhere under our belligerent sun, looking harassed, with sweaty faces and reddened
eyes …A bike here, a keke there…forget
cabs, unnecessary luxury their
principal calls them.
It is bad enough to be poor, but
trying to put a cloak over it comes off as downright ridiculous.
But the profession demands proper dressing at all times, no blames.
We must appear respectable. Respectability means a black jacket, tie, collar,
the works …It inspires confidence in clients.
Sorry, it is an expensive rule
but every lawyer is expected to measure up.
Of course the success of the measuring
up is seen through the client’s eyes, and clients are not blind. A person you hire to wrestle tens
of millions from a defaulter should at least exhibit more sartorial competence
than your average scare-crow.
They even ask for tips… ‘Ah ah now oga, nothing for your boys?’ This,
to a barely literate client. Well, let’s call it the Bar-tender instinct.
For the men (who incidentally
form the bulk of this group) it is impossible to work out a marriage/family
plan with the next to nothing
remuneration…to them, the law is indeed a jealous mistress.
The concept of duty is not
voluntary, bah! Leave duty to the altruistic inclinations of man and nothing is
done. Thus the need to impose a standard…
Recently we have all been buzzing
with arguments and counters as to why the position of SAN should be
scrapped…while I have as yet not taken any sides, I will need to remind that it
is only in the issue of conferring that title that some form of standard is
introduced with respect to the material
packaging of the practitioner; a vital ingredient. It will not be a bad idea if extended
to every law firm in the country.
Many a principal sits looking
well fed and smug, swiveling in his easy chair barking out orders to his foot
soldiers and dusting crumbs down to them from his table by month-end. The standard should be: the right
to establish a law firm being automatically attached to the duty to provide a
prescribed level of welfare to all the fee earners. And compliance should be
Away with the rambling speeches
of seminars and conferences…Young Lawyers:
Carving out a Rich Future for the Legal Profession. The Law: An Instrument of Socio-economic Transformation.yak yak
yak. Rather let us introduce stringent measures: chunky salaries and
allowances, reasonable appearance fees, staff vehicles (or monetary equivalents)
as preconditions to being an employer of (legal) labour.
Back in Law school, one of our lecturers in trying
to illustrate what constitutes conduct incompatible with the legal profession
made a joke about mounting a horse with ones wig and gown on…ok, we don’t have
horses now, how about climbing onto a bike, perched in a keke…or overhanging from a molue
in ones professional regalia?
Stop and search…discover the
employer. For perpetuating a travesty, he
should face the ire of the Disciplinary Committee, with penalties ranging from
mild chastisement to full-blown suspension.
The world has gone materialistic and
owes no apologies for that, gentlemen of the world’s leading vocation should
ordinarily set the pace. They deserve every bit of the good life.
Banks and Oil Companies are the dream workplace.
Yes; they work their behinds off, but the AC drones all day and takes the bite
off the pressure, coupled with the certitude of a sizable salary, profit sharing, upfronts and other juicy ancillaries.
That is welfare.
Not so for the junior lawyer…he
should be content with fanning himself with the sheaves of paper on his desk
whenever power fails while fighting the evil teeth chewing up his empty
entrails. He might as well have skipped Law
school; poverty needs no rigorous preparation.
Recently I was in one of those
nice buildings at Victoria Island alongside a small crowd of people waiting for the lift to
descend, when a delightful fragrance wafted through. We all turned to look and
there stood two regally attired young persons, a gentleman and a lady.
Sparkling white shirts, glossy plastic collars, inch-perfect suits and shoes that
observably had minimal interaction with the earth. Even their voices wore an
immaculate polish, their car keys jingled, and their faces glowed with robust
health and confidence. They waited with the rest of us. Nobody could stop
My heart swelled inside…those are my learned colleagues, I
That’s what I’m talking about; the
ideal lawyer’s look… the minimum standard.