Every young lawyer who attended the law school is ushered into the legal profession with the phrase, ‘‘welcome to this noble profession’’. The legal profession is a respected one that actively seeks the protection of the various rights of individual in a state. Where such rights are trampled upon, a good lawyer helps such persons to seek redress in order to promote the tenets of justice in the society. The pursuit of justice therefore, is an important role lawyers and law students seek to achieve in the society. According to Lord Denning ‟Law is a means to an end and the end is justice”. Therefore, the legal profession aids in the administration of justice and the courts of law are usually referred to as the Temple of Justice.
To qualify as an officer in this temple of justice, the lawyer must have gone through various rigorous trainings. This usually commences by obtaining a bachelor’s degree in law from an accredited university in the country, after which he proceeds to conclude a professional one-year program in a law school and upon meeting the necessary requirements, gets enrolled as a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. Upon enrolment, such individual becomes licenced to act as a legal professional in the country, providing legal services for clients, conducting legal researches on various legal problems, representing clients in courts among other services.
However, to succeed in the legal profession, especially in our ever-changing world, lawyers and law students alike need to possess certain attributes that are necessary to becoming a successful lawyer. These traits are universal set skills for legal practitioners as they are unique to the legal profession.
- Ability To Learn Fast
Firstly, a good lawyer and law student should possess an ability to learn fast. Laws have a key attribute of being dynamic and as such, laws generally change with time. In the Nigerian legal space, certain laws have emerged overtime in response to changes within our society. Laws like the Cyber Crimes Act of 2015, emerged to counter growing acts of fraud and scams within the cyber space. Other examples include: the Nigerian Data Protection and Regulation 2019, the Finance Bill 2020 among others. The same applies to case laws or judicial precedent. Therefore, a lawyer and law student should possess an open mind to learn, unlearn and relearn as time proceeds. This is to avoid being left behind by the legal train as changes are bound to occur in our laws as time proceed.
- Sound Knowledge Of Legal Research
Furthermore, a good lawyer and law student should possess sound knowledge in legal research. The legal profession involves engaging in lots of researches while preparing a brief or arguments before the courts. A good research enables you gather quality information that would effectively help your case. Little wonder why Lord Denning once mused ‟ God forbids that a lawyer knows all the laws, but a good lawyer is one who knows where to find the law”. Be thorough in your research and delivery. This affords room for further and better insight. Therefore, to be able to find the laws, a good lawyer and law student should train themselves in the skill of legal research.
- Effective Communication
In continuation, the legal profession is one that involves a good deal of communication. As such, a lawyer and law student ought to possess sound communication skills. Communication skill involves a mastery of both oral and written skills which involves possessing a sound knowledge of the English language. To effectively communicate with a client involves the ability to listen to the client in order to understand their needs and to know the blind spots and missing information in the case. A good understanding of the case helps the lawyer to build a water tight case on behalf of the client.
- Sound Public Speaking Skill
Also, another key factor that would help a lawyer and law student to succeed is the ability to speak in public. Mastering the art of public speaking is essential for success in the legal profession. Whether a person desires to go into full-time litigation or not, it is important that they possess the good public speaking skills. Public speaking is an art that is nurtured over time due to practice. As such, to fully develop this ability, the lawyer would have started during the undergraduate years by taking part in the various moot events, belonging to debating societies that would give them access to platforms for public speaking.
- Build Your Trust Bank
It is also important for the lawyer and law student to cultivate the habit of being trustworthy. It is usually said that if works aren’t coming your way in the law firm, it means that something is wrong as that is not a good omen. Your trust is a currency that should appreciate with time and this is built by being steadfast and true to your words, meeting deadlines and effectively executing assignments. This attribute would help build your reputation amongst your peers and is proven to create a ripple effect as your actions would speak for you even in your absence.
Lastly, be audacious. This trait is very important. Do not shy away from big responsibilities, don’t feel too small to take up a responsibility as you can never really realise your abilities until you have taken up responsibilities. As such, do not be stress aversive as the profession generally requires a lot of energy. The best thing to do is to understand, ahead of time that stressful and febrile works would come your way, and as such, it would help in getting you mentally ready.
In conclusion, getting to succeed in the legal profession requires deliberate efforts toward building up your career. As such the above skill sets are essential toward having a successful legal career.
This Article was written by Mordecai Ogbaje, a final year student of Law at the University of Ibadan. Mordecai has keen interest in ADR and Taxation. You can reach Mordecai at firstname.lastname@example.org