8th March 2018

Business Day

Bar Leaders Reiterate Need for Exemplary Leadership

A member of the panel who spoke after the lead presentation, Kemi Pinheiro, SAN highlighted the need for legal professionals to be humble, charitable, responsible and accommodating of one another.

Senior Advocates of Nigeria who gathered at the anniversary celebration of Dele Adesina, SAN have reiterated the need for the bar to be exemplary in its activities, so as to be a true voice of conscience of society.

The members of the inner bar said this during the three-in-one celebration of Dele Adesina, SAN tagged 35-25-10, which marked his 35th anniversary at the Bar; the 25th anniversary of his law firm and the 10th anniversary of Dele Adesina’s admission into the ‘inner bar’ as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).

In his Lead presentation, Prof. Koyinsola Ajayi encouraged leaders and senior members of the bar to “Live by the rules, practicing what they preach.

“Do not be tyrants, but be firm and just…. Do not belong to the bar – where things are marred; nor sit on the bench of stench. Rather be found only in the Bar, helping the Bench, for public good, and in that your own welfare,” he said.

To the younger lawyers and those in the ‘Outer bar’, he urged, “Do not engage in idle canter and banter, understand the importance of networking and engage accordingly.

A member of the panel who spoke after the lead presentation, Kemi Pinheiro, SAN highlighted the need for legal professionals to be humble, charitable, responsible and accommodating of one another.

He said, “Be open to learning from your colleagues. Furthermore,, we need the ethics of our profession without compromising it. We must show ourselves worthy in a society that is looking up to us for guidance. But the fact remains that we would first have to change ourselves in other to change Nigeria.”

Osaro Eghobamien, SAN, Managing Partner, Perchstone & Graeys, who responded to an earlier remark by Wole Olanikpekun, SAN suggesting that the lawyer’s obligation was to represent and protect a client first, before any other obligations, said,

“I disagree wholeheartedly with this position. Your duty is beyond being responsive to your clients. I believe taking a case without a merit to the Supreme Court is a level of injustice that should not be condoned.”

Speaking further on the growth and development of the profession, Eghobamien disclosed that there were many areas of law yet untapped, with several opportunities lying therein.

“However, without strong legal institutions, we cannot provide services that are global,. We must begin to align our operations and services in line with international standards,” he said.

Also speaking on the development of the legal profession, Fabian Ajogwu, SAN that it was important to for lawyer to understand what truly drives success in law.

“I am not of the school, begging seniors to pay their juniors adequately. Rather, I am more interested in seeing hard work being rewarded,” the Professor of Law said.

“You need to do research to become a good lawyer and apply it in the courtroom and the classroom. In determining success in the profession, one must first determine what sort of lawyer you want to be. You must be able to measure your spectrum.

Do not move about the profession seeking for what the profession would do for you. Do not move about seeking fame and wealth by all means. You must rather begin to contribute and help to build the profession in your own little way. How many times have you done pro-bono work? What have you contributed, no matter how little? Because as the saying goes, a candle loses nothing by lighting another.” Ajogwu said, with a note of finality.

Reiterating Prof. Ajogwu’s position on reward for hard work, Christine Sijuwade, of Udo Udoma & Belo-Osagie, said, “If you want to institutionalize a law firm, you must reward diligence and hard work. It’s one thing to satisfy my client and it’s another thing to be recognized. Law firms need to be open to new ideas, new areas of law, developing the skills of its lawyers in order to equip them to compete favourably.

In her earlier remarks, the Chairman of the occasion, and first Female Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) had commended the underlying concept of theme, ‘Building a Successful Legal Career/Practice: Drop The Hook: Do Not Be Afraid’ which she described as “a well-formulated title” and which according to her, focuses on the celebrant’s determination to help and encourage young lawyers to persevere in order to succeed in the one and only learned profession.

She said, “In my personal experience of fifty-four years at the Bar, with 36 years as the first female Senior Advocate of Nigeria, with all due respect to all other noble professions, the law is the best profession on earth. Thus, it is admirable that the Celebrant is very conscious of the need to engage in corporate social responsibility because no professional can succeed without the patronage of the members of the society.”

Also speaking about the Celebrant’s new book titled, New Developments in Law and Practice in Nigeria’ Chief Solanke said, “The title, is impactful and also aligns with the celebrant’s focus on the young lawyers. There can be no development in law without the participation of young lawyers. I have noted the names of the learned legal giants who have contributed papers to the book on a range of compelling topics. No doubt, the book will adorn a law library and other libraries. We are anxiously awaiting the unveiling of this “magnum opus”.

As part of the activities of the day, the new book titled, was presented to guests by Dr. Wale Babalakin SAN, Pro- Chancellor, Chairman of the Governing Council, University of Lagos and Chairman, Bi- Courtney Aviation Services.

Specially thanking all contributors and editors of the book, the celebrant said, “I want to place on record my indebtedness to all the wonderful, erudite noble men and women of the Legal Profession who in spite of their very busy schedules contributed very insightful and well researched essays on topical issues of our law and practice published in the book.

In his formal anniversary address, the celebrant encouraged individual members of the Bar, to recall that the role of the lawyer in any democratic society is to consistently defend the truth and justice.

He said, “That is our duty no matter how unpopular. According to Thomas Erskine in one of his writings… “The role of the advocate is to break the rod of oppression and to ensure that the ordinary Citizen is properly protected from power, its excesses, its misuse and its abuses.” Our profession is strategic to the development of our Nation,” he continued. “Our profession is an indispensable tool for Nation building.

In closing, Dele Adesina spoke about his journey in the Bar and the celebration.

In his words, “The objective is two-fold. One is to consider the story behind the glory and celebrate the faithfulness of God. I recognize that to take God for granted is to be grounded. Much as I know that no vision delivers without a run, no matter how well one runs, God is the one that gives validity and accomplishment to vision because by strength shall no man prevail.

“The second objective is to through the instrumentality of this ceremony, build hope in our upcoming and vibrant junior colleagues in the profession. To assure you that even through the future appears uncertain and challenging, you can make it once you exercise patience, persistence, and perseverance with necessary diligence, dedication, discipline and determination,” the Senior Advocate said with a snote of finality.