Aristotle once opined that the Law is reason, free from passion, would it be that one of the many logics that could be deciphered from the quote, is the impossibility of a smooth synergy between law and passion? It will be safe not to conclude too soon but to hold that thought for now.
Law is a dynamic and noble profession with a large network of specialties and a wide variety of branches. Considering, the significant growth of the Bar in Nigeria and the fact that we maintain the prestigious status of the largest Bar in Africa.
Unfortunately, the profession in Nigeria still suffers from a lot of pitfalls especially for the new wigs. The status holds both good and bad circumstances for the future of the Bar, if not properly managed might lead to an eventual chaos or total breakdown of people’s desire or capacity to see a better life for themselves as lawyers especially in Nigeria. What happens when the answers drift between the murky oceans of passion and ambition?
Every year, in recent times the Council of Legal Education presents over 3,000 candidates to the Body of Benchers to be called to the Nigerian Bar.
This new wigs are released into the open world, filled with expectations with a spark in their eyes to be exceptional lawyers. Expecting much from the system but sadly about 2,000 of them might not continue active legal practice after 5 years post call. Most will drop out of practice to pursue their talents, something more financially rewarding, their business or just plain old frustration. In most cases, the latter is the story.
Therefore, for those that remain in active practice amidst the trying times, the desire to maintain that spark hangs on the pendulum of either Passion or Ambition; a classic case of to be or not to be!
When you observe the definition of passion and ambition they almost mean the same thing but one has to do more with, an emotional and exciting feeling while the other is more of a daring desire.
The Online Oxford dictionary defines passion as simply a powerful, strong and uncontrollable emotion to do something while ambition is the determination to achieve a thing.
However, for the purpose of this article, in my opinion, passion can be described as an unrepentant believer who continues regardless of the odds while ambition evaluates the odds and launches for the most profiting. Like love, passion is usually blind while ambition kind of has his eyes opened.
About 20 to 30 years ago being a lawyer in Nigeria was one of the ultimate dreams of any bright and resourceful Nigerian along with Medicine, Engineering and Accounting amongst others.
Once you were called to the Bar it was like a ticket to the good life. They were so many opportunities especially on merit and the standard of attaining merit was not as high as they are now.
The standard was basic; have a desire, be willing to work hard and pass the minimum requirements of the Council of Legal Education, which were:
• Meet up the number of required dining terms,
• Be fit and proper and
• Sit and pass the Bar final exams.
You did not have to know anyone, or informally have to cajole people on LinkedIn to assist you with your application process, write very tough aptitude tests that I believe a lot of older and senior lawyers and even the partners of those firms would not pass if subjected to same tests at the time they were newly called to the Bar.
The long hours of workload to prove your worth as a new wig and maintain a pay check. Ultimately, the extra struggle that comes with the capacity to make a wave in the profession if you do not have a prominent name hanging over your shoulder is nothing short of mind blowing and crazy.
Furthermore, the remuneration of young lawyers in Nigeria is very poor. A report by a committee set up by the immediate past NBA President, Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN) in March 2018 highlighted their serious reservations on the poor remuneration of young lawyers across the country, they recommended better work benefits and remuneration for young lawyers.
Sadly, many things play a role in how profiting the first few years in your legal career will span out as a new wig. Shockingly, the best, a good result in law school will do for you are the opportunities of an interview with a top tier law firm but cannot guarantee you a job! Year in, Year out! New wigs have to send out tones of applications, befriend senior lawyers on LinkedIn, compete and get into a ‘dog eat dog frenzy’ just to distinguish themselves to be considered by top firms.
This drive to work with this law firms is majorly for certain reasons, which are around the following basics;
• A good pay,
• Comfortable working environment,
• A wider opportunity to learn from some of the best minds in the profession and the list goes on and on.
As good as this factors are, how many can get a piece of the good pie?
New wigs are consistently confronted by the questions that tilt this scale in favour of certain things; this brings us back to the dilemma- passion or ambition.
Here are a few questions I could come up with;
• What of those with potentials that will probably never pass these tough aptitude tests but will do better on the job!?
• What of those in environments where there are no top law firms to provide these good facilities?
• How long will they need to endure before things get better?
• For those in top law firms, for how long will they need to prove themselves before they get a chance to handle a major brief?
Passion or ambition will always determine how long you stay! Passion will endure like a faithful wife believing that one day her unfaithful husband will return to her while ambition will always dare to break out of the box for what’s more profiting.
Whatever lays at your convenience, my simple advice to my fellow new wigs on this grind and to those yet to join are;
• Stay hungry
• Know what you want and go for it without feeling inadequate.
• Decide to build the kind of career you want and stay true to it.
In the end could law truly be reason without passion as stated by Aristotle? Well I will leave you to decide for yourself but allow me conclude with the sayings of John Locke, ‘The end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom. For in all states of created beings capable of law, where there is no law, there is no freedom’
And so I charge all my fellow new wigs to choose FREEDOM; either to pursue their legal career passionately or with ambition. The choices will always be yours. I believe the years ahead, holds a greater promise for us all.
I wish us all a most rewarding 2019
Mobolaji Davidson Ojo Esq.
Lawyer, Content Developer, Public Speaker
Mpbolaji Davidson Ojo fondly called M.D. Ojo is a Lawyer, Life Coach, Content Developer and a lover of Jesus Christ. He desires to see young men and women maximise their greatest potentials and for young lawyers to emerge to the echelon of the legal profession early bringing dynamism, contemporary skills and exceptional professionalism to the fore. His core interests areas are Leadership, Public Interest Lawyering and the gospel of Jesus Christ. He currently operates from FCT Abuja, Nigeria.