Becoming A 21st Century Lawyer

Becoming A 21st Century Lawyer

Last week I wrote about how some senior lawyers are maltreating young lawyers by overworking them and paying them peanuts. A senior lawyer friend subsequently reached out to me and we had a long conversation about this. He told me that despite the fact that when they were junior lawyers, which is some decades ago, there were more jobs and better pay. As a lawyer then, even from law school, there will be so many jobs with good bonuses waiting for you; if you decide that you do not want to go into private practice or full-time law practice there are thousands of organizations including multinationals and government agencies lining up to hire you immediately but now that the only option for a young lawyer is to join a law firm that will be overworking you paying you 10-20k or you will be jobless but it is still preferable to be a new wig now than then because there are more opportunities available now for lawyers than as it used to be. 

I pondered on this and I believed him. I have come to very much believe and hugely optimistic that it is easier and scalable to be a young lawyer in Nigeria today than it was some decades ago, the only difference is that you just have to create the jobs for yourself but if you do, there is no limit as to what you can earn or how much you can excel. Therefore, the chances of you getting rich and excelling in today’s market as a young lawyer are higher than the chances of people who were young lawyers 20-30 years ago excelling. 

For starters, there are more opportunities for lawyers in today’s legal market. There are more practice areas, new legal niches, and fresh diversification areas in the law field today than it was some decades back. There are newer and lucrative areas of law that a young lawyer can branch into and make solid money off of. Some decades ago, there was nothing like fashion law or fashion lawyers in Nigeria, there was not even tech law or tech lawyers or entertainment lawyers, these are newer niches which some young lawyers have diversified in and they are making a solid living from it. There is even art law now which focuses on artworks like high-priced paintings or drawings and the legalese around them. I’m pretty sure that there were no such niches or lawyers diversifying into such niches in Nigeria some decades ago. 

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Another advantage of being a young lawyer at this point in time is the advent and proliferation of technology and social media. Some lawyers are building solid brands for themselves through the use of social media which was not there decades ago. Some lawyers have abandoned active legal practice and ventured into full-time social media influencing and they are making a whole lot of money from it. I recently spoke with a lawyer on social media, what he does is to regularly provide legal opinions on social and trending issues and he amassed huge followership across different platforms through that. Now he charges companies money to influence their products and give them legal opinions and advice. That is his niche and he told me that he is raking in millions of naira per month from that. 

Lawyers that started their legal journey some 20 or more years ago wouldn’t have thought that this could be an area of legal practice. 

Moreso, with Technology, the practice of law is much easier and more convenient now than it used to be. Carrying out legal research is way too easy now. Before what was only available were hard copy case reports and hard copies of statutes, this means that if you want to read up on a case or do some law research you will have to go to the library and look for the law report that reported the case or the statute that provided for the law but now you can read up any case or any law over the internet. There are so many digital law reports now in Nigeria some of which are free for young lawyers. Statutory provisions are now compressed and uploaded online. I believe that lawyers of the late ’90s wouldn’t have thought that there would ever be a time like this. 

Also with the advent of technology, you can serve a legal process online unlike before. You can serve legal processes through WhatsApp or email. In fact, my favorite way of sending a petition now is through email instead of stressing myself or wasting resources to waybill it. I stay in Abuja and I serve a petition to anybody anywhere around Nigeria in seconds. 

Also, there is much more money now in the Nigerian legal market. The market has expanded and grown and there is no limit to what a lawyer could bill a client now and lawyers are more valued now that clients pay them well. 

There will definitely be a part two to this article this is just a starter to wet the appetite of any young lawyer out there; instead of staying in a law firm where you are not valued and are getting paid 20k per month, there are a lot of opportunities for you out there and newer practise areas you can explore, build on, create your brand on and excel. 

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