Categories
The Big Question Winning Essay

RAHILA DAUDA Esq.

The practice of law is as ancient as the world itself, it keeps evolving and transforming, a lawyer will do great harm for himself or herself if he or she refuses to embrace the new normal of practicing of law.
It is very important that we make progress even with the way things are currently, for me I strongly believe our justice system should make use of technology in it’s Administration of Justice. There a lot of laws that need to be reformed in order to ensure an effective justice delivery, unfortunately for our judicial system is Nigeria, our laws have been enacted in such a way that technology has been giving little or no consideration, this is because most of our laws don’t get to be reviewed and reformed as it should be, The Quarantine Act of 1926 for example which we still use in this time and century should have been revisited since before now. Other acts such as the Married Women Property Act of 1822 for example should be reviewed and reformed in line with our peculiarities.
Young lawyers especially should leverage on the use of technology in their legal practice, they should not continue to rely on the usual way of doing law, new emerging areas of law like Fintech, Media law, Intellectual property should be considered, becoming experts in such field is very advisable.

Categories
The Big Question Winning Essay

OKEKE IFUNANYA JEMILA Esq.

No doubt the world is at a biological war fare with the corona virus, a deadly virus that has drastically changed everything, we have no choice than to adapt to a whole new way of life, we are constantly unlearning and re-learning ways to survive this pandemic now.

Every profession known to mankind including the legal profession has been severely affected. The legal profession is unquestionably a very noble one, the society admires anyone who has taken to this prestigious profession. Sadly, the outward presentation of this profession in Nigeria has deafen and rendered non-existant the inward challenges faced by many in this noble profession especially the young lawyers, who get called to the Nigerian Bar Association and dive into the profession with so much enthusiasm and great expectation, only for their hopes to be dashed with the harsh realities of “ you should be privileged to be gaining experiences from us”,  with little or no financial motivation and made to comb the courts with worn out shoes and a little ray of hope for a better tomorrow.

This has been the harsh realities of young lawyers before the corona virus pandemic and leaves one to the horrific imagination of what their fate will be after the pandemic, considering the economic effect of the pandemic globally, employers are laying off employees, the world has shut down and when we finally re-open, a lot of unpleasant changes will definitely occur. How then can these young lawyers be encouraged to continue in the profession and pursue their dreams because, whether we appreciate it or not, they are the future of the Nigerian legal profession and without a solid foundation and support, our future is destined to be in shambles.

How then can this situation be averted? A change can only be successful when it starts from the foundation, there are many legislations governing legal practice in Nigeria and one of the them  is the Rules of Professional Conduct 2007 and by virtue  of rule 7, lawyers are prohibited from carrying on the business of:

  • Buying and selling of commodities
  • Commission agent
  • And other business which the Bar Council may from time to time consider to be incompatible with the practice of a lawyer or as tending to undermine the high standing of the profession

Having a comprehensive look at the provision of the above rule, one can only conclude that to contravene them will result to grave consequences. Considering the fact that young lawyers make little or nothing from the legal practice, I recommend that the above rule be amended to encourage the carrying of businesses as long as it is legal and does not interfere with the productivity of lawyers.

The Nigerian Bar Association should also map out a certain remuneration for young lawyer within a defined age bracket and ensure that such stipulation is adhered. The young lawyers in the Nigerian legal profession deserve all the encourage that they can get because the future depends on them.

Categories
The Big Question Winning Essay

CHINYERE UDENKWO Esq.

The global pandemic ravaging the world is gradually unveiling a new era, were all facet of the Economy is affected in one way or the other. The law practice as well as the administration of justice in Nigeria is not left out. Although, the Nigeria legal system was entirely analogue, there has been a steady but slow switch to technology. This has shown that legal practice and administration of justice in Nigeria is due for a reform that should usher us into the era where the use of technology in the courts would become a norm and for this digitalization to be possible every player, in the legal industry have a role to play in gearing the process. For instance in Lagos, the e-filling system had earlier been introduced and has been in use prior to covid-19 induced lockdown. This cannot be said of most other states of the Federation.

The shutdown of courts have led to the congestion of cases especially those requiring urgency and other pending matters, backlog in the delivering of judgement and delay in the administration of justice. Nigeria should take a clue from country like Kenya where a Kenyan judge recently delivered 23 judgement via skype in his chambers at the Mombasa high court.
The litigation lawyers are not left out as the shutdown of the courts is indeed frustrating. Thus this is an indication for this lawyers that the legal practice have grown beyond going to court and impressing client. There is now need for them to diversify their skills and competence to take advantage of the changing system. For instance where the litigation lawyer have to appear for a matter through the use of zoom or skype, it will definitely increase the charges of Legal services such lawyer will need to improve the infrastructural settings of his firm to be more palatable to the viewing public.
The fate of the new wigs is still a sad story to tell as the Nigeria legal system is not making any adequate provision for the accommodation of this set of individuals in the legal industry. It is a well known culture that the remuneration of an average young lawyer in Nigeria remains remarkably low due to low demands for legal services. The young lawyers should equip themselves to be grounded in the legal principles and technologies supporting legal principles as many older lawyers are mostly analogical and will need the young lawyer’s assistant to be able to meet up with the transition to digitalization. There should be a legislation guiding the employment of the young lawyer. For instances, there should be a general standard for such employment, which will make issuance of a contract of employment between the principal and the young lawyer a norm, as they are mostly at the mercy of the principal. Such contract of service should be in conformity with the provision of the Labour Act (which absolutely define who a worker is and the rights of such persons) and also a reasonable remuneration should be included.
It is pertinent to know that the global change has more than ever made digitalization of the justice system inevitable if any progress will be achieved. There should be reforms and enactment of some sort to accommodate the global change. For instance the provision of the Rules of professional conduct 2007 particularly under rule 7(1-2) which prohibits a legal practitioner from engaging in other trade or business and the provision with regard to advertising as encapsulated under rule 39(2) of the RPC calls for a reform, as Nigeria should take a clue from the united states of America legal system where a lawyer is authorized to advertise his services. This will in turn create another avenue through which a lawyer can generate income and prevent frustration faced by litigation lawyers if this Lockdown continues. The civil procedure rules of the various courts needs some readjustment, there should be provision for the inclusion of virtual sitting of courts like use of skype, zoom and the likes. There should also be provision of technological facility( zoom or skype appearance room or the likes) for the prisons and police stations to enable the inmate to adequately appear for their matters.
Although, it is noteworthy that Lagos is again blazing the trail, by releasing a Practice direction to regulate the proceedings of virtual court hearing in order to conform with the social distancing rule required in this period.
In conclusion, the digitalization of the legal practice in Nigeria will definitely lead to the downsizing of the workforce in the legal industry, but be that as it may, it will subsequently usher the system into a new era of positive growth, although there has been positive steps taken by some courts, an example is the E-filling adopted mostly by the industrial courts, and the virtual hearing held via zoom at Ikeja high court 10 Lagos state on the 4th day of May 2020 , a judgment delivered by Honourable Justice Dada is a welcome development and such growth is worthy of emulation by other courts in the country. Also Order 34 rule 29 of the Abuja Federal Capital Territory High Court Civil procedure rules 2019 which permits the admission of the evidence of a witness through video conference of any electronic devices capable of recording live(as if he is personally in attendance in the court) is a progress.
This global pandemic with it’s diverse effects should be an eye opener to the Nigeria legal system to put in place enforceable legislation to intensify the efforts towards ensuring the complete technological compliance of the court system.