Furtive, sideway glances always revealed their lips slightly agape, eyes swimming in the advanced stages of hypnotic awe. How come so much knowledge is reposited in such a young lad! I would suddenly pause in mid-sentence and knot my brows, shaking my head slightly as if silently debating with an inner instructor. At such moments, the catch in their breaths is almost audible, they would hang onto the silence, and when I spoke again, it would be in whispers. They would strain forward, not daring to interrupt, desperate to catch every syllable. Then with a bored expression, I would mention my fee. Enveloped in the aura of my erudition, they never haggled…
But I seemed to have landed an uncommon fish today. The gentleman kept an unwavering stare on my face. My punch-lines did not even elicit a nod, my wise-cracks sounded hollow. I started feeling slightly ridiculous and quickly blurted out my fee without the attendant rituals. That was when he smiled…He smiled with all the warmth of an air-conditioned igloo, and the frozen words rolled off his tongue, briefly: ‘Don’t be silly, boy’. This affront stung some heat into me, and I unleashed a withering denunciation on people so bloated by their own ignorance, they do not appreciate the enormity of a lawyer’s job. I waited for a reaction, none.
He curled his lips downwards in another of those ghastly smiles and condescendingly breathed ‘I am a lawyer too, my boy…don’t look so combative. I have practised law for years, here and outside the country, but overcome by the sham of it all, I left, and veered into business, occasionally lifting young lawyers from the starvation line by offering them jobs I don’t really need done.’
Who is the corporate lawyer today? Those charlatans at CAC? Lugging multiple files and purporting to: (He made his voice squeaky in mimicry) “Not just incorporate your company sir, we shall also advise on the best strategy for share-holding and directorship.” I humor them most times, acting like a layman. I would say… “No, no don’t worry, I don’t really need the company for anything serious, it’s just to chase contracts.”
“Ok, so what services would you offer me?” ‘He instantly grew breathless.’ “A myriad sir, Further to ensuring that you are not cheated out of the aesthetics of this choice location, we would utilize our best efforts to generate the most suitable clientele in the likely event that you would wish to place the accommodation on the public domain…” and ‘they’ proceeded to mention a preposterous amount as Legal fees. “Ok, you mean you want to help me and look for tenants?” ‘I asked. He looked taken aback.’ “Sir, we don’t put it so crudely”
“How crude do you want it? Is it not percentage you want? You want to be my caretaker, not so? Do you bear in mind that your competitors, the self trained estate agents are asking for a mere tenth of the amount you mention? And they would even help me enforce payment from my tenants the street-way if need be” ‘Of course he slunk off, he met the wrong mugu. Yes! Mugu, the Law is a fraud. Wetin Lawyers dey do sef?’ He suddenly switched to pidgin. ‘Nothing! That’s what lawyers do. They simply position themselves around every transaction and trumpet that none can be completed without their aid. Lies!