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Tuesday, 5 February 2013
5 Briefs a Lawyer would rather not take
The Rule is: Never take the Law into your own hands. This means, leave it all for the Lawyers. This should ordinarily make us excited. Well it does. But trust me, there are a few areas we would rather you do not get us involved in.
Now, here is a quick tour of the Briefs a Lawyer would rather not take:
1. Police Arrest for Wandering:
Yes, you are a free citizen, entitled to freedom of movement. We know that. The Policemen know this too. However, the possible charges they can bring against you if you walk the nights are just so numerous that they can’t help gambling on you now and again. It could be for smoking cigarettes in public (PLEASE NOTE that even lawyers are not so sure of the Law on public smoking). It could be for patronizing illicit company under the shadows. (Note that this charge instantly accrues if your female company is not totally swathed in an ankle length bouba. Any slight show of flesh is incriminatory). It could be for behaviour capable of disturbing the peace (This typically happens when after a bottle or two, you are loudly arguing with your stroll-partners on whether Chelsea goes trophy-less this season or not).
Now, immediately they declare you under arrest, you fish out your phone to call your lawyer. We would rather you did not! First, you assume that it is a convenient time for us to appear. And of course, you will call a junior lawyer. They are not paid well enough to drive, so they have to break their heads over the affordable cabs at that hour. Worse still, odds are that you had run out of money, thus, the negotiation shifts to the lawyer. A policeman in the dark with a gun is open only to cash-based negotiations; therefore a lawyer’s rant is a wrong move.
Invariably, you are whisked to the station. This raises a conundrum for the Lawyer. If you sleep there overnight, you will lose all respect for him and the reputation will spread of this kain weak lawyer wey no even fit handle small police case. So, the Lawyer pays from his pockets. The tag “Bail is Free” is a Constitutional hypothesis. Upon regaining your liberty, you pay us a minuscule token: no be just police case? Meanwhile, the lawyer’s head swims with the derisive jibes of the officers. Nobody cuts you to size than a Nigerian policeman, trust me. So please, if you are an incurable night crawler; try and keep a little cash for police expediencies. Let us sleep. Wake us for more profitable matters.
2. When you hit a woman’s car
Oh no! This is the worst case scenario! A Nigerian woman is the worst person to collide with. The scale doesn’t matter: from a microscopic dent to shattered rear-lights, it is capital offence! When you invite us, what do you want us to say? She is stomping and yelling “I only service my car at Honda Place o, and you must take the car there!” Of course, again, you would have called a junior lawyer and exposed them to the lady’s scathing tongue: “Oh, you went and called a lawyer!” She will hiss. “By the time I finish with two of you...” (this part is said with a contemptuous sweep of bejewelled fingers while whipping out a Samsung SIII and punching in some important looking digits).
In cases like this, your options are limited to apologies. And Lawyers hate apologising. Please do not call us in at this stage. Try a little psychology instead: If she shouts way too much; you should relax, she is probably just bluffing. But if she starts yelling into the phone and you overhear the word “Major” or “Colonel”, well, bear your cross bravely. We cannot help you. On the streets, uniformed men are above the Law. Please call us instead after they had battered you and seized your phones and car keys. It is more dignifying for us to appear in court brandishing your fundamental rights to a sympathetic judge than being present when the fight is at its dirtiest. The Law doesn’t soil its hands, remember?
3. When your Landlord is evicting you
Pay your rents promptly please. Or otherwise, endeavour to get us involved at the incipient Notice stages. Do not wait until the last minute when all negotiations have broken down and the Landlord has employed thugs to throw you out. What would you have us do? Fight? Plus, there are chances another lawyer is on the other side to counter our effectiveness. You have simply brought us to be made a fool of. To save face, we will probably end up acting as emergency sureties for you, assuring that you will pay at a designated period. Now, we are placed on the line of fire, with possible backlash from the NBA. Please, if you do not get us involved at the preliminary stages, then wait until the eviction is complete. You can even help your case by physically challenging one of the thugs. If your face is sufficiently bruised and disfigured, our chances of securing justice become amplified. Trust us to bring in the requisite drama in the safe haven of the courtroom.
4. Your rascally son is expelled.
Odds are, he is in a Missionary school and had jumped the fence to go for a party with the girls. He is consequently expelled on both moral and disciplinary grounds. If you wish to contest his expulsion, please do not invite us to take the Brief. How does it sound for a lawyer to challenge constituted (and possibly divine) authority? How do we even start positioning our arguments? We opine that the school authorities acted in unconscionable disregard of petulant whims of a teenager? And in support, we are constrained to throw in those sex-laced Freudian theories to justify that a teen’s excesses should be condoned. It is a Catch 22 situation since we may also be the family’s preferred lawyer handling everything from their land to business speculations.
So, the threat of losing this Retainer looms. Our advice is: do not get a lawyer yet. Start by forming a consortium of other affected parents, and then call us in as their dignified spokesman. We would prefer to have a mediation process where the school Principal leads talks, instead of throwing our full fire-power and subtly teaching the kids that a lawyer can get them off every horrible nest they stir in the future.
5. Your Visa Application is refused
Ok, so the Embassy staff do not like the face on your passport. You probably didn’t do a good job of concealing your desperate eagerness to escape Nigeria for good, and those eagle-eyed snobs spotted it instantly. And you call a Lawyer in? To do what? Petition the Ambassador or High Commissioner as the case may be? On what grounds? Apart from the absolute defences of Diplomatic Immunity, do you really think we share the conviction that you should force another man to host you in his land? Our take is that you go home and bear the ill news calmly. Legal intervention is easier availed those who travel for high-level businesses. Say you have an invitation to a Conference on Climate Change. If your Visa is denied, we can theatrically sermonize on the monumental collateral loss to the global commonwealth which it could occasion. Big words are always more dignifying.
Anything else apart from the above? Give us a call.