Law News
NBA Annual General Conference 2017: 3 Valuable Career Nuggets You Missed

Granted the annual conference of the Nigerian Bar Association NBA is open to all members of the Association. Yet, not every lawyer is able to attend, for one reason or the other.

This year’s conference, themed “African Business: Penetrating Through Institution Building”, included sessions indispensable to not only practicing lawyers, but law students who would be joining the profession in a few years.

The most relevant sessions to young lawyers, “Tips for Building a 360 You” and “Being Relevant in Emerging Practice Areas” engaged the following issues, amongst others.


Imagine you are a product in a supermarket called life and your clients are people coming to shop, the question you should be asking yourself is what would make one client give you the brief as opposed to the other lawyer?
Ifeoma Williams, Lawyer & Self-Actualisation Coach (Tips For Building a 360 You)
In a few words, “branding” is how people perceive you. Contrary to what you may think, it is not peculiar to corporations alone; it also concerns legal practitioners.

Your personal brand communicates who you are and what you are capable of accomplishing. Thus, it includes how you manage your skill and expertise in a way that projects your competence in your area of practice.

While there may be a universal language used in legal practice, there are different communication channels open to lawyers in different practice areas. For instance, the manner an Intellectual Property Lawyer communicates is different from the way an Oil and Gas Lawyer is expected to communicate.

As a legal practitioner, you should be mindful of your channels of communication and ensure you use them to your advantage. These, mostly, include how you look, how you project and what comes out of your mouth.

In forging a personal brand, your clients, not your colleagues or Principal, should be foremost in your considerations. The question you should ask yourself is “In what light do I want my clients to view me?” In addition, your brand should give expression to your values. Therefore, you should work from inside out, and not focus entirely on your outer appearance.

It is typical to see a lawyer in the Nigerian court litigating a family matter today, a criminal matter tomorrow and a commercial transaction a few days later. In fact, this is the norm rather than the exception.

However, this should not be so. Legal practice in more developed countries has transcended this basic jack-of-all-trade approach to a more specialized form of practice.

The truth is people respect and listen more to experts. Prospective clients will be more willing to give you a brief if they consider you an expert in your area of practice. Nonetheless, it is not enough to be ‘perceived’ as an expert. You must be capable of solving the nuttiest issue in your area of practice.

In order to do this, you should choose a desirable practice area(s) and carve a niche for yourself out of it. You cannot continue to hop from one practice area to the other, hoping to make quick bucks from all sides. If you do, you will lose the chance of earning the real bucks!

You cannot possibly master all practice areas. You will be more effective – and successful – if you focus on few practice areas, preferably a maximum of three.

Do not Ignore Emerging Practice Areas:
Although real property is still a thriving area of practice, legal practice in the 21st Century does not exclusively revolve around it. There are tons of other (emerging) practice areas, most of which are being ignored by lawyers and are, consequently, dominated by international law firms.

These practice areas include Media and Entertainment, Intellectual Property, Space, Telecommunications, and Mining amongst others. There is a crucial need for lawyers to build expertise in these practice areas in order to meet clients’ growing demand and develop regulatory policies for much-needed development.

In order to expand the scope of your practice area, you need not delve into an entirely new practice area. You may identify emerging practice areas similar to your current area of expertise (provided you are specialised in one or more practice areas) and extend your expertise by reviewing published materials and engaging experts in the emerging practice area(s).

Branding, specialization and building expertise in emerging practice areas, amongst other benefits, provide new opportunities, allow you to serve the growing needs of clients, and help you to remain relevant and on top of your game.

TML News

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