What has been your experience as a practicing lawyer?
I have had several experiences both pleasant and unpleasant ones, and especially with regards to managing and meeting clients’ expectations. Attorney-Client relationship was one area I struggled with. I was almost going to lose a client/brief before realising that having legal skills is not enough to understand and manage clients. Skills like emotional intelligence, customer relationship are critical and should be acquired. I had to take some courses which have since been useful to my legal practice.
What other things do you do?
I train and help people become emotionally intelligent. I am a certified emotionally intelligent specialist and a master practitioner, Neuro-Linguistic Program. In the past, I was a caterer, running mobile and outdoor catering for a period of 10 years.
What inspires you?
I get inspired seeing others grow and enjoy better quality of life. I love it when everyone around me is doing very well and dominating in their chosen area/industry.
What was the defining point in your career?
The defining point was when I got tired and felt law was no longer gratifying for me. Not really in monetary ways but the satisfaction or joy derived in doing what you really love was no longer evident. I started contemplating going back to catering on a full-time basis and practicing law on a part time basis. Everything was set for the career switch, plans were in place and all that was left was execution. But I decided to do one thing before concluding on my plans. I discussed my plans with God in a very simple but sincere conversation and He instructed that I remain a full-time lawyer. It was a tough instruction to obey especially since I was no longer enjoying my job then. But the moment I obeyed, things took a new turn and my eyes became opened to new opportunities which I am now exploring.
Are lawyers well remunerated for their services within the society?
I would say Yes and No. This is because clients want quality legal services, premium services but are usually reluctant and not willing to pay fees commensurate to the services so desired.
Yes, for those who have good understanding and have mastered the art of doing business. These set of lawyers have incorporated business strategies into their practice.
No, because those in this category have no business-sense so it is easy for clients to pull a fast one on them and in some cases, they do not even get paid for services rendered which is why we are putting together an event to address this issue, and help lawyers understand that law is both a profession and business and understanding the business side is as critical as the practice and procedural side.
What is the event about?
It is The Business of Law Conference. The conference is to stir up conversations centered on the business side of our profession as lawyers. It is one thing to have legal skills, understanding and mastering how to monetise the skills is a different ball game which unfortunately we were not prepared for both at the University and Law School. Our Legal education curriculum is deficient of business education. Lawyers are not trained on how to monetise legal skills, which is why you find some lawyers debasing the nobility of the profession in the way and manner they carry on practice.
Just like a person who cooks well and is thinking of starting a catering business. These are two different things. The culinary skill will not make up for the deficiency in business skill. For such one to succeed in catering business, he/she must first understand and master the business of catering else the business is doomed to fail ab initio. In same vein, legal education or skill is not enough, we need to understand and master the business side of legal practice. This is one way to guarantee profitability and ensure lawyers are well remunerated for their services, thereby changing our narrative from charge-and-bail broke-ass lawyers to profitable and well-respected lawyers in the society.
What do you hope to achieve with this?
I want lawyers to understand that law transcends practice and procedures. That there is a business side to it which every lawyer must understand and master. Since it is expected that lawyers should be knowledgeable in everything, we must strive to acquire business skills and be business-minded in our approach to law practice. With the technological disruption and the advent of AI which has thrown a lot of people into panic mode, a lawyer with sound business acumen will know how to leverage on these disruptions to his advantage rather than resist it. Every lawyer must also understand that s/he is a salesperson. Whether in the courtroom trying to convince a judge to give judgment in your favour or soliciting on behalf of a client, both are sales and what we sell is our legal services. Understanding this would help more lawyers position themselves for sales and close deals faster and better.
As a lady, what would you say are the challenges of a female lawyer?
The challenges female lawyers face is same as what every female employee face. Female employee discrimination is evident when a law firm is recruiting, and you read things like; “Male lawyers needed.”Some firms indirectly disapprove of female lawyers settling down in marital relationship. It becomes a bigger problem when the female lawyer conceives, puts to birth and applies for maternity leave. The standard three months maternity leave is usually not given and where it is given, the female employee is either not paid or there is a reduction in her salary. The lack of work-life balance is another challenge confronting female lawyers. Most lawyers work late hours and in location far from their residence, this can be challenging for a woman, particularly a single mother.
Also, only few female lawyers are at the top of their career. This is largely due to the fact that female lawyers are usually not given enough room and opportunities as their male counterparts who have the opportunity to grow through the ladder.
How can female lawyers stand out and make a difference?
Interestingly, lots of female lawyers are springing up and doing amazing things now. The likes of Faith Obafemi, who is establishing her authority as a digital lawyer, Ifeoma Ben and Barinaada Alex Iheanacho are helping SMEs build legal structures whilst Dorcas Atinuke Aderemi is building authority in the family law space. To stand out and make a difference, we must be very firm, assertive and outspoken. Another way to make a difference is to build authority and specialisation in a particular area of law, especially in those emerging areas. Specialisation helps to give a kind of visibility no glass ceiling can shatter. I encourage female lawyers to build specialisation in more areas of law, especially in emerging areas of law.
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