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Boosting employment opportunities for lawyers

Published by The Nation on Tue, 23 Jun 2015

A lawyer, Tunde Olofintila, identifies other employment opportunities for lawyers outside the courtroomWhen lawyers gather, be it in the hallowed bowels of the court and tribunal halls where they slug it out to resolve the mystery of legal cases or at workshops, seminars or learned conferences where they dig deep into the foundation, practice and interpretation of Law, the attitude, colour and character of their gathering are always the same: some serious business. The recently concluded 48thConference of the Nigerian Association of Law Teachers (NALT) was no exemption to this norm and time-tested practice.It was serious business right from the opening ceremonies when the frontline legal icon and Founder of AfeBabalola University, Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD), Aare Afe Babalola (SAN) and the Hon. Justice IbrahimTanko Muhammad of the Supreme Court addressed the Law Teachers and wittingly or unwittingly set the agenda for this years Conference. As it were, majority of what the duo said at the opening ceremonies later formed the pith of the deliberations of the Conferees and the meat of their communique.In tandem with the theme for the Conference Mainstr-eaming Interdisciplinary Approach to Legal Education: Imperatives for the Development of Nigeria, Babalola, a man who roars where angels tremble to whisper,frontally tackled such contentious issues as the place and import of Law Teachers as experts and specialists in Law, funding of quality Education, admission into Colleges/Faculties of Law, the running of the Law School, Interdisciplinary Approach to Legal Education and appointment of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) as well as Extension of Funds to Non-Profit Private Universities. Such weighty issues could not have escaped the powerful rays of his searchlight.For example, Babalola would not fathom why it is difficult for Nigeria to step up the current allocation of about 7% of its national budget to fund education to meet the UNESCO recommendation of at least 25% of the national budget of every country should be dedicated to education, the fact that it has to grapple with other matters such as health care delivery, security and infrastructural development as well as funding of education notwithstanding.He would not be taken in on why the annual budget of $7,130,137,243 which translates to N1,212,123,331,310 for North California State University in 2012 could be more than the Federal Government of Nigerias budget of N495,456,130,065 for 50 Federal Universities and UBE (Universal Basic Education) which translates to 40.88% of the budget allocation of American University within the same time frame.As for the Hon. Justice Muhammad who stood in for the Chief Justice of Nigeria, the Hon. Justice Mahmoud Muhammad, he counselled all lawyers, Judges, Law teachers and indeed all stakeholders in the legal profession to play significant roles in sanitizing the legal profession by identifying and flushing out all the bad eggs in order to restore the dignity and honour that had been the hallmark of the noble profession in yester years.According to Muhammad, the legal profession has been facing a lot of challenges from within and from without as a result of bad eggs amongst (some) practising lawyers, (some Judges) and even from Academics and therefore implored the Law teachers, whom he described as a collection of great minds who have the onerous responsibility of moulding the character and minds of students, for positive contributions to the political development of this country.After four days of rigorous and painstaking sessions and copious drinking from the fountain of experience and knowledge of some erudite Judicial Officers of note, seasoned Legal Practitioners and Legal Academics from all over the world, the Law Teachers, through the communique at the end of their 48thConference, returned a unanimous verdict that a lot still needs to be done to make the wheel of justice run faster and smoother in the overall interest of the administration of justice in Nigeria.Determined to insulate Law graduates from the ever expanding unemployment market, the Association advocated for an immediate expansion and reformation of the curriculum of legal education in Nigeria to accommodate new areas of market economics and developmental studies such as Agriculture, Medical Science, Physiology, Nursing, Sociology, Psychology and Marketing among others, reasoning that such immediate expansion and reformation of the curriculum will guarantee rapid development of the different spheres of the society and make law graduates employable in different fields of human endeavor.In addition to the above, they advocated that a new curriculum with respect to cyber-law should be developed for Nigerian Universities in keeping with the practice in other jurisdictions, such as the United States and the United Kingdom to enable Nigerian trained lawyers handle the increasing legal challenges thrown up by the fast growing cyber technology.Considering the importance of Information and Communication Technology in the 21st Century and the concomitant phenomenon of rapid globalisation, it is imperative for Nigeria to facilitate the development of information and knowledge-based economy through the instrumentality of law. Consequently, Information Technology law should be carried out as a law course to be taught in the penultimate law of the basic law programme in all Faculties/Colleges of Law in Nigerian Universities.To make Nigerian lawyers really relevant in the competitive global market, there is the need for Nigerian Universities to ensure that undergraduate students, especially in Law, undergo entrepreneurial training to endow them with skill and competences that can empower them to be self-employed and sharpen their capacity to have legitimate sources/streams of income. Legal education in Nigeria must strive to achieve synergy between the law graduate and the society in such a way that our universities will not just be turning out job seekers who become stranded when there is no vacancy in both the public and private sectors.In addition to the above, there is an urgent need to re-evaluate and re-engineer the Nigerian postgraduate education in Law in terms of designing more suitable research methodologies with a view to accommodating new frontiers of knowledge, Information and Communication Technology as well as entrepreneurial studies. This would in turn ensure response to current realities, global competitiveness and relevance.With multi-disciplinary training, lawyers can be gainfully engaged in Advocacy, as Solicitors or in Educational and Research Institutes where the likes of Prof. Ben Nwabueze, Prof. ItseSagay, Prof. G. A. Olawoyin, Prof. I.O Agbede and Prof. P.A. Oluyede as well as Prof. Ayo Ajomo among many others have made indelible marks.Other areas Lawyers can be active players are Commerce, as Realtors, Government Agencies like National Agency for Food and Drug Administration (AFDAC), the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as well as Governance and Politics where lawyers like Mahatma Gandhi, Winston Churchill, Oliver Tambo, Nelson Mandela, Margaret Thatcher, Abraham Lincoln, Barack Obama and Obafemi Awolowo have shaped the course of history and governance in the contemporary world.Besides, many lawyers could be appointed as Special Advisers, Research Assistants in addition to working as Arbitrators, Concilliators and Mediators, in the Ministry of Justice, both at the Federal and State Civil Service, the International Civil Service, Field and Protection Officers in Conflict and Post Conflict areas, the Industries, Legislative Houses and of course, the Judiciary, where they could rise to become Magistrates and Judges.NALT emphasised that conscious efforts should be made to adopt the comparative and global perspectives to legal education in Nigeria both at the Law Faculties and at the Law School against the current trend which focuses mainly on domestic/municipal laws which cannot guarantee the production of legal practitioners who can respond effectively to the growing challenges of globalization, adding that curricula of legal education in the Universities and the Law School should be restructured to incorporate comparative and global legal studies for the benefit of Nigerian lawyers who desire to play at the global level.The law teachers would like the criteria for the appointment of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs), particularly as they apply to the Academic Category, to be reviewed to accommodate more academics who meet the minimum requirements for appointment into the silk in tandem with the practice in England where every qualified applicant gets appointed as Queens Counsel (QC), the British equivalent of SAN.The post Boosting employment opportunities for lawyers appeared first on The Nation.]]>
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