Barristers & Solicitors
‘Stop Paying Young Lawyers Peanuts’

Why did you decide to become a lawyer

I decided to become a lawyer because of my burning desire to offer assistance to the vulnerable and less privileged  members of the society. I hate injustice and oppression, repression  and therefore  cannot afford to keep quiet or  fold my hands  helplessly in the face of such situations.  Hence I decided to  join the legal profession so that I can offer my own little assistance whenever such a situation arises.   In addition, I always like to uphold the truth, ensure equity and justice at all times, so the knowledge of law will help  me to appreciate what justice and fairness means at all times so that I can do them because you cannot uphold what you don’t know neither can you give what you don’t have Nemo dat quod non habet.

So, how far have you done that?

Well, I have always been able to offer my own little assistance to victims of such situations and circumstances whenever and wherever such situation arises. I am just a young lawyer still learning the art of the trade and by the time I become a senior lawyer, I will do better than I am doing now. By that time, I will have the requisite experience and resources and contacts to do what God places in my hearth for the vulnerable and less privileged members of the society. Law is life and a veritable tool for service to mankind, so for now I will deploy my skills to serve God and humanity for us to have a better society rooted in the rule of law, equity and justice.

I also have a passion for the law profession. I love the profession of law because it is a noble profession. It always makes you conscious of you rights as human being, it teaches you your duties and obligations as a citizen and gives you the boldness to pursue you convictions with courage within the ambit of the law.

Above all, it is a profession that makes you available for service and protects you from unnecessary harassment and molestation. The fact that you are a lawyer earns you a level of respect and honour from the members of the society

Are you satisfied with what you see in the profession?

Yes, I am quite satisfied with what I see but like every other human activity, there are lots of room for improvements. A lot still needs to be done or I still need to learn a lot in the profession to meet my expectations.  I believe that Rome was not built in a day and  with time I will get there. However, I still expect more  from the profession in the areas of ethics and  ethical standards  which I believe has fallen down drastically. The rules of conduct have to be seriously enforced and where such rules do not exist, leaders of the profession will make and update existing rules to protect the profession from falling into the mud, restore the dignity and pride of the profession.

Which areas of the profession do you like best?

My area of interest is Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanisms (ADR) which include Arbitration, Mediation, Conciliation  and so on.


Well, from what I have seen in practice litigation and court processes take very  long time to resolve issues. Unnecessary adjournments, preliminary objections, motions and similar applications help to prolong court procedures in litigation. The rules of evidence and so on must be observed in litigation but these are not the same in ADR.  ADR allows parties to determine and choose their arbitrators. They determine the venue of the meeting and also the speed of the whole arbitration process. I dislike divorce matters but I do not despise lawyers that handle it.

Why don’t you like doing divorce matters?

Well, I respect the family and the marriage institution so much that I do not like anything that affects or hurts family relationship. I like seeing families staying in peace and in love, unity and peace so that they fulfill their divine destiny.

How do you feel as the National Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Young Lawyers Forum (YLF)?

I feel honoured being appointed the National Secretary of the NBA Young Lawyers Forum by the President of the Nigerian Bar Association A. B. Mahmoud (SAN), and I see it as a privilege to contribute my quota to the the  Brave New Bar  promised by Mr president. Young lawyers are an integral part of the legal profession and deserve to be treated as such. The Young lawyer has a lot of potentials to be tapped but if they are not allowed to develop those potentials by providing them the privilege and opportunity and platform  to contribute their quota to the development of the profession, they cannot function optimally. With the appointment of officers of the forum, we will now sit down and fashion out programmes for the forum and pursue same with a great zeal. We shall reshape and reposition the forum as a critical stakeholder in the affairs of the NBA and also make the young lawyer play his role in a globalised world.

What is the greatest need of the young lawyer today?

The greatest need of the young lawyers in Nigeria is empowerment. They need to be empowered and legal environment made conducive for them to unleash their potential. Law practice today is different from what it used to be. Modern practice is technology driven, so the young lawyer needs a lot of skills and resources to be relevant in global practice. He needs the skills as well as the technology to grow. He also needs to be grounded in the knowledge of the law so that he will contend with the influence of expatriates in a globalised world. You don’t get those  skills for free, you need a lot of both resources and mentoring to do so, you need a high level skills to deal with international clients and seal high level transactions.

What are the greatest challenges facing the young lawyer?

The greatest challenges facing the  young lawyers are locating opportunities for employment and demand for specialisation in different areas of practice as demanded in the global legal market. Our economy is not growing as it ought to grow, clientele  base is not expanding as it ought to expand, the working capital and tools of work are not there for the young lawyer, so we have to go the extra mile to survive in a highly competitive and capitalist economy. This, obviously, places a big burden and challenge on senior lawyers to not only mentor the juniors, but to also provide them opportunity to participate and develop their skills.

How do you think the NBA can assist in developing the skills of the young lawyer?

NBA can assist in professionalism and expertise of young lawyers in Nigeria by providing technical assistance for continuing legal education and advanced skills training. The standard of law firms need to be enhanced. There is need for the NBA to look into the stipends being paid by the law firms, some of them are not encouraging at all.  The young  lawyers  should be able to see themselves as the future visionary leaders of this great nation and this cannot be possible without the support of the great leaders of our noble profession.

Do you have any regrets being a lawyer?

I do not have any regret at all becoming a lawyer, I have passion for law profession and if given opportunity I will like to read law again and again. Apart from being a noble profession, it provides the average lawyer the opportunity to contribute his or her quota to the development of his country. It enables the lawyer to play active role in the society and therefore contributes in making the world a better place.

What are your expectations from the NBA?

I will like to see an NBA that is a sustainable institution, built on transparency,  integrity and highly regulated to  provide economic opportunities  that enhance the well being of the young lawyer and maintain very high ethical standards. I picked law as a career because of the  burning desire to assist the underdog, so I will like to be a lawyer that can battle the ills in the society, be able to rescue people in great distress, offer free legal services and assistance to  poor widows, the vulnerable orphans in the society and protect them against any oppression.

John Austin Unachukwu
The Nation News

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