WHY I CHOSE TO STUDY LAW.
My decision to study law was not haphazard, but as a result of a number of factors. These factors are what I plan to tersely discuss in this article. The decision is one I’ve made while I was more or less still an abecedarian: during my primary school days. At the time, I understood the significance of choosing ones career at an early stage to give room for the development of passion and adequate preparation. In short, I did not want to be labelled an NFA, id est., someone with No Future Ambition.
Whether, my parents coerced me into it, whether I envisioned it in a dream or whether making this very fundamental choice naturally follows from my zodiac sign being ‘Libra’ – you’ll soon get to know.
The will-soon-be-mentioned points are the reasons for my choosing to be a lawyer, but some of them may equally be considered as reasons anyone should choose law as a profession. The reasons I made the decision, stood by it and never once faltered in my determination to be learned person, thus include:
PROMINENCE OF LAW
No doubt, Law is one of the most renowned and widely recognised professions. Whenever and wherever, good careers are mentioned, law is always among – and then, perhaps, Medicine, Engineering and Accounting. Hence, this was one of the factors that contributed to my decision, as well as the decisions of numerous other children.
Again, Lawyers enjoy a great amount of veneration from others. Anyone tagged as “D-LAW”, is always seen as a reservoir of knowledge and an insightful personalty. Even as a law student, I enjoy this show of respect from people on sundry occasions. And it not only endeared me to the profession, but also re-assures me from time to time that there’s no other course I’d rather take.
UNIQUENESS OF LAW
Apart from the prominence law enjoys as a profession, it is also a quite unique career, most distinct from others. It is mainly because of this peculiarity that non-lawyers express envy towards us, especially in the university environment.
One, law is the most conservative profession. The up-till-today use of wig, gown, latin and archaic expressions attest to this fact.
Secondly, law students are the only set of university students that use clothes of uniform colours: id est., black and white attires. White represents deep wisdom, purity and innocence, while black represents power, authority, as well as blindness i.e fairness and justice.
And lastly, law is the only course in which a department, prima facie, constitutes a whole faculty. All other faculties [and colleges] are split into several departments.
A lawyer is either in the profession by accident/coercion, or for the fame and fortune he might get. If not, then he is in it to get and advocate justice, either for himself or for others who have been wronged. No law student would tell you that his own objective for studying law is to defend the wrong-doer against the wronged, or to protect the oppressor from the oppressed. All would-be legal practitioners desire to be advocates of justice, paladins of freedom and heralds of equity. I am no exception.
I have said it before and I will herewith reiterate it: The greatest problem the society, the nation and the world at large is facing is not malaria, neither is it bad roads. Our greatest problem, incontrovertibly, is corruption.
The question now is, which professionals or practitioners are in the best position to tackle this problem? It is definitely not doctors; they only treat those who are the major source of this problem when they’re ill, and then abandon the victims of the corrupt circumstance we find ourselves. It is definitely not journalists; they can only bark, they possess not the necessary canines to bite. It is not engineers. Neither is it accountants. I am of the strong belief that it is none other than lawyers. It is they that have the essential weapon to bring corruptionists to book and prosecute all who involve themselves in unwholesome conducts.
So, just as we have advocacy journalists, there are also advocacy lawyers. These are lawyers that believe in a cause, and utilise their profession in the fight for that cause. Persons like Gani Fawehinmi, who loudly spoke against bad leadership and Nelson Mandela, who publicly condemned apartheid and gave legal aids to blacks who needed them, are perfect examples.
Law is a profession that has produced many leaders and influential personages who have left indelible trails in the sands of time. They succeeded both in legal practice and extra-legal practice, most of them being renowned politicians, activists and orators.
Paragons of this instance include Abraham Lincoln, the man who greatly promoted the abolition of slave trade and prevented the disintegration of the American union; Nelson Mandela, the first black President of South Africa who played a key role in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa; Mahatma Gandhi, a non-violent revolutionary that successfully clamoured for India’s independence from Britain. Another good example is John Grisham, a world best-selling writer of fictions. And in Nigeria here we have the likes of Patrick Obahiagbon, a controversial orator, political-activist and well-recognised grammarian, and a host of others making names for themselves in the the entertainment, most especially, movie industry.
It is worth mentioning that law is also a quite essential and indispensable profession. Most, if not all, institutions can do without medical doctors and engineers, but tell me a company that can live long without prompt and periodic legal succour. In fact, most gatherings require the presence of a lawyer to guide them through their proceedings, and put them to order whenever they dabble into illicitness.
Nations like Russia and France, have in time past, banned the operation of lawyers. But later on, despite the antipathy they harboured against them, they had to rescind the ban, after realising the “indispensability” of law, and by extension lawyers.
LUCRATIVENESS, BROAD RANGE OF OPPORTUNITIES
In time past, Law was a very unrewarding profession. Orators in ancient Athens, Greece, who could be referred to as the first lawyers were required by law not to request for payments for their rendered services. It was like helping out a friend in difficulty. In early ancient Rome too, precisely 204 BC, there was a law banning advocates from taking fees [but the law was widely ignored]. Emperor Claudius later abolished the ban and legalised the legal profession, but he also imposed a fee ceiling of 10,000 sesterces for anyone willing to work as a lawyer.
Nowadays, the tide has turned. Lawyers, are today, one of the most paid professionals. A lawyer who knows his onions well could get paid in millions for a single case, with no stress. The best part is that there abounds a wide range of opportunities for anyone who has been called to bar or who has formal knowledge of legal practice. Such a person could become an advocate, a solicitor, a legal adviser to corporate bodies or to the government, an arbitrator, a lecturer. He can as well successfully seek jobs in fields such as politics, journalism, entrepreneurship and so on, if the competition in legal practice proves too fierce for him.
NATURAL POLEMIC DEXTERITY
Well, I wouldn’t say I was much of a debater, even up till this moment. However, I was a lot better than most of my mates. I was naturally daring, audacious and may be stubborn at times. Recently, perhaps a couple of months back, I found out from my mom that this attitude was inherent in me since I was young, that I even showed it to her apprentices.
I can recall many occasions that I challenged my primary school teachers, secondary school teachers and even university lecturers – and on those occasions, I often got penalised. Even my family, most especially my mom, complain about my habit challenging their dispositions. As a result, one of my brothers always suggested that I train myself professionally as lawyer.
If there is any activity I had interest in and loved doing, it is debating. But please, do not at all confuse debating with public speaking – that I developed just recently. About two years back, I was a poor public speaker, I was very apprehensive of facing a crowd and if at all I did face a crowd, I was always trembling. But gradually, I have been able to improve in that aspect as well.
YES! Without doubt, this also contributed to my choice of career. It is not the case that all my siblings, or should I say brothers, were lawyers or would-be lawyers. Rather, it is quite the opposite. The three of them chose to go to the science department while in senior high. My eldest brother, now a graduate and bonafide member of the Nigerian labour force, studied computer science while in school. The ‘second in command’ is currently ‘reading’ Estate management in a federal university of technology. And my immediate elder brother is studying pure chemistry at present.
It is a source of pride for me, actually, to be the only ‘black sheep’, the only art student, the only historian, the only literary expert, the only political analyst and, most importantly, the only learned child of the four of us.
“THE INCORRUPTIBLE JUDGE”
“The incorruptible Judge”. This is a book I read in my early childhood. It is authored by Olu D. Olagoke. The theme of this book centre on a judge who is morally upright, who is incorruptible. Then a matter got to his court involving, if I remember corectly, his friend and a rich personality. He was presurised and offered a bribe. However, he would not budge. He stood his ground, and repeatedly asserted that he will only judge based on the pieces of evidence adduced before him in the court. And eventually, he did convict the accused person for he was glaringly guilty.
His attitude is analogous to that of Justice Sowemimo, who told Chief Obafemi Awolowo in 1963, when the latter appeared before him for a 3-count charge of conspiracy and treasonable felony, that,”Here we have one of the first premiers of the autonomous region standing trial. If you were the only one before me, I would have felt that it was enough for you to have undergone the strain of the trial. I would have asked you to go. But I am sorry. I cannot do so now because my hands are tied.”
In a nutshell, I desired to be like this judge. I wanted to be a principled man, who has clearly defined his values, and then would stop at nothing to defend those values. A man who would not compromise his integrity because of familiarity or mere gratification.
Well, there you have it. This is the synopsis of the major factors that culminated into my choice of law as a career. I might decide to add some more later on. I did not see my future in a trance, I’m not a gifted dreamer. I was not coerced into the decision, my parents gave me absolute freedom in the aspect. And neither is it because my zodiac sign is libra, in actualty, by bbirthday falls in that of virgo. It is my eldest brother is a libra, and he is not a lawyer.
I want to believe you’ve been exposed to some new facts, as a result of your reading this article. If my guess is right, then I’m glad my effort is not wasted.
Now all want to ask you is, after reading this, if you desire to choose a career for yourself, or perhaps your advice is sought regarding career choice, WHY NOT LAW?