This week, we’re featuring a Lawyer as the “Professional of The Week”. It was yet another enlightening interview and I encourage every professional or budding professional out there to read on.
Name: Yakubu Philemon
1. Why did you choose Law as your profession?
When I was younger, I was inspired by the people around me. I grew up in a University community and my primary school was just in front of the faculty of law. Also, when I got to a point of decision making at Senior Secondary School, I was privileged to speak to a family friend who was in his fourth year at University. He talked me into the legal profession, explaining to me what services I will render being a lawyer and he also identified those traits in me that fit being a lawyer. He also explained to be so many things I stand to benefit being a lawyer. I was already in the arts class and this discussion spurred my interest in the profession. He made me understand lawyering is a service to people and affecting them directly. As a lawyer, you bear peoples burdens, help solve their problems and in the process derive a lot of satisfaction from being a positive impact on the society. This was more than I wanted to do back then but this discussion enlightened me on the profession and enabled me to understand that law is a very noble and honorable profession. It gives you an edge in the society.
2. What is the best thing about your profession?
Law is a profession that cuts across every sphere & aspect of the society. Our profession also cuts across every other profession because we learn virtually everything and are assumed to know everything. It is the profession of the professions; it makes you study everything else and it’s noble.
3. What do you do on a day-to-day basis?
On a typical day, when I get to the office I’ll quickly go through my schedule for the day, attend to urgent matters at hand, pick the authorities I need and proceed to the court.
On my return, I’ll go through the file I took to the court and minute on it. If I have a case for the next day, I’ll pick the file and go through it to put my act together. I also do some work out of the office and court as a solicitor.
I am rarely idle because these cases take a long time and there are always issues that come up. I have a tight schedule and work with targets to avoid my work piling up.
4. What qualifications are your working towards?
Most importantly I am working towards the elevated rank of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN). Also, I am currently on my LLM (Masters degree) after which I plan to do a Ph.D in Law. Also, there is compulsory legal education which I do every year; I attend trainings and courses which are also a requirement of the profession. Each training is 3 points and I am supposed to acquire at least 16 points in a year which means I have to attend at least 6 trainings in a year. These points in future will form part of the requirements to qualify as a Senior Advocate. Law is a dynamic profession and these trainings keep you abreast with the developments in the profession.
5. What advice will you give someone that is interested in Law as a profession?
First, you need to develop your interest in the profession. At the foundation level, ensure you offer courses/subjects that are relevant to law while at Secondary School (such as Literature, CRS/IRS, Government/History, Economics). A good lawyer needs to be studious, calm, gentle, not too loud and hard working. Being a law goes beyond the title, you really must be hard working.
Most importantly, you need to have a passion for the profession. You also need to be open minded, don’t judge people by stereotypes or be rigid in thinking.
6. What skills will you advise current and aspiring students of Law to acquire/develop?
If you are still at the university studying law, I advise you to develop a critical mind, learn how to analyse issues and develop the ability to speak logically. It starts from the mind and it is important to develop the ability to think logically and analyse these issues in different perspectives.
7. In the Law profession, is it a barrier if your degree is not in Law?
Yes it is as provided by the Legal Practitioners Act under section 2 and 4. Section 2 provides that you cannot practice law unless you are qualified and duly called to the Nigerian Bar or so listed or your name is on the rows of the Supreme court” Then section 4 provides for the persons that can be called to bar; you must have a qualifying certificate from the body of backbenchers, that is, you must have attended Nigerian law school, you must have studied law. So, it is not for any other person apart from someone who has gone through formal legal education.
8. Do you have any other interests you pursue outside your profession as a Lawyer?
I have interests in politics. Political science was my second choice while gaining admission to the university. Once in a while I play basketball. I’m also a football fan and I support Manchester United and AC Milan.