A summary of September 2022 Bar Final Examinations revealed that 119 students First Class, 789 made Second Class (Upper ), 2460 made Second Class (Lower), and 1323 made a Pass. A total od 4,711 (including from previous Call to the Bar ceremony) successful applicants will be called to the Bar between December 6, 2022 and December 7, 2022.

This increase in the number of lawyers has not seen a commensurate increase in the number of opportunities and openings for lawyers in Nigeria. Despite these challenges, new wigs can achieve great results. Chiwf Wole Olanipenkun, SAN, Chairman of the Body of Benchers in fact admonished the new wigs to aim for the best and prepare to soar like the eagle irrespective of what the state of the economy might be.
He also counseled them to be prepared to face the vicissitudes of life. “It behoves me at this point to forthrightly prepare your minds for inevitability of bumpy rides, aspersions, tirades, genera vicissitudes of, and such other contingencies, to which all human beings are susceptible.
These eventualities are of universal character, sparing no one, irrespective of illustriousness or nobility of pedigree, tribal or ethnic affiliations, religious inclinations, affluence , eminence or dexterity”, he said.

Chief Olanipekun reminded the new wigs that the legal profession is an ancient and prestigious one. According to him, “Wearing the nomenclature ‘lawyer’ accords you a lot of respect instantly wherever you go or appear . Conscious or otherwise, you also draw attention to yourselves, once you are introduced as a lawyer. People around you will always want to test or taunt you about your learnedness in actual fact, more particularly so, in these days and times when law has become a global commodity.
Your dressing and carriage should be neat and elegant, not riotous or notorious. Your celebration of today should also be moderate and not out of tune with the culture and deep traditions of the legal profession.
Do not go out in half-nude dresses and never send out scary photographs of yourselves . Adequately equip yourselves mentally , physically and spiritually for the challenges ahead from today”.

The Director General of the Nigerian Law School, Prof Isa Hayatu Chiroma, SAN while presenting the candidates for Call to the Bar stated that under their watch the Nigerian Law School has witnessed and expressed more positive transformation in ten areas of academics, better administrative and physical infrastructural development , by building on past achievements and legacies.

As we welcome these new wigs to the legal profession, I will not fail to mention that roles young lawyers or new wigs will play in the legal profession have a lot to do with the opportunities available for them and this in turn is dependent on the state of the country’s economy, their socio-economic background, mindset, determination, available opportunities etc.

Lawyers play a significant and independent role in the administration of justice as well as in ensuring lawful compliance by persons and entities involved in commercial and financial activities. Rule 1 of the Rules of Profession Conduct for Legal Practitioners stipulates that a ‘A lawyer shall uphold and observe the rule of law, promote and foster the cause of justice, maintain a high standard of professional conduct, and shall not engage in any conduct which is unbecoming of a legal practitioner”. This is therefore the major role of every lawyer irrespective of age at the bar.

The reality however is that not many new-wigs will ever get to play any role in the profession or get to do so with joy. The challenges or setbacks they encounter may either break their spirits, or remove all their illusions, or demoralize them or fire them on till they achieve success. Some will give up while some will rise no matter how many times they fail.

Those that seek to be employed either in private or public sector, will discover that the jobs are not readily available, difficult to get, or do not pay well or require long back-breaking hours. For a country with a very high unemployment rate, this simply means that a great percentage of these lawyers will very likely never be employed or given an opportunity to work in the sort of environment they want to, unless they are self-employed or go into other areas to earn a living. In 2021, the unemployment rate in Nigeria is estimated to reach 32.5 percent. This figure is projected to increase further in 2022. Chronological data show that the unemployment rate in Nigeria rose constantly in the past years. In the fourth quarter of 2020, over 33 percent of the labor force was unemployed. The estimate is confirmed by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) which put the unemployment figure at 33.5%. The NBS explained that the number of unemployed Nigerians rose to 23.19 million in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2020 on the back of job losses occasioned by the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic and its stifling impact on businesses during the period.

Despite these set-backs, new wigs can always play whatever role they seek to play in the legal profession. Do not ever forget, that whoever dares, wins. Success is meant for those who diligently seek it. I will not conclude this speech without sharing with you an advice I have for some time now given to new wigs after their Call to the Bar ceremonies.
“Dear colleagues, congratulations on your call to the Nigerian Bar. This is a moment you have all laboured for and dreamt of. From the first time you had a dream to be a lawyer, you booked this date and your success in the Bar examination has guaranteed you a place in the profession. Some of your friends were not so fortunate. I felicitate with you.

As you join the legal profession, I enjoin you to serve humanity and stand out firmly for justice. Your call to bar is a new start. You are no longer who or what you used to be. Each one of you now acquires a new age and a new status. You are now Ministers in the Temple of Justice.

The legal profession is undoubtedly the noblest of all professions. It is as well a challenging profession which imposes on you a general responsibility to uphold and observe the rule of law, promote and foster the cause of justice, maintain a high standard of professional conduct, and not engage in any conduct which is unbecoming of a legal practitioner. Your call to the Bar is therefore not an end, but the beginning of the professional journey of a lifetime. The way you begin and or commit to go in the profession will be a signpost of where you will end.

The legal profession is like a pyramid. Never worry that in climbing a pyramid, you would likely start at the base. The race to professional excellence starts this day. The profession offers several vistas. It depends on you to decide which path to toe and endeavour to master the skills and exercise patience to blossom in your chosen direction.

You should never be deterred by tales of how difficult and almost impossible it is to get to the top or to succeed in the profession. All lawyers who set out on this journey which you embark on today went down this same road. The road may appear difficult, daunting and insurmountable, but you will master and succeed in it. With focus, commitment, hard work, perseverance and grace of God, you will surely excel and get to the top of the pyramid.

To get to the zenith of your chosen path these virtues are very necessary – hard work, trustworthiness, patience, integrity, perseverance and honesty. Imbibing these virtues will sustain you in the profession as the profession punishes any erring lawyer for any contravention of any of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners or failure to perform any of the duties imposed by the Rules.

As you commence this walk which I have no doubt will someday lead you to the pinnacle of the pyramid, always remember to 1) find a mentor to emulate; 2) value your beginning; 3) read more; 4) write better; 5) acquire requisite skills for your chosen area of practice; 6) learn to listen especially when addressed; 7) observe and internalize proceedings; (8) dress well; 9) speak audibly and politely; 10) invest your money wisely; 11) learn to be humble; 12) respect clients, judicial, seniors, elders, employers and all whom you come across; 13) protect your reputation; and above all 14) keep yourselves abreast with developments in whatever you choose to apply your qualification to.

You can always reach out to others for advice and guidance on areas of practice and management, tailored to your individual needs in the profession.

I assure you, you will never regret your decision to be a lawyer as long as you understand that your destiny lies in your hands. I believe you will work diligently work towards your set goals.

I wish you success. You can be a success story. You surely, will. The sky is wide enough to accommodate all the stars.

I look forward to meeting you in the continuous quest to open up legal markets to our colleagues and to defend human rights while supporting our members within the domestic legal market’.

My dear friends, the future is bright for us all and inasmuch as older members of the Bar must continue to and constantly be reminded to do their best to promote the welfare of those coming after them.
I must not fail to drum it into your consciousness that despite the growing army of lawyers in the country, the future is becoming brighter and the prospects of what could be achieved with a law degree are becoming increasingly infinite.
You must therefore choose your own path and set a standard for yourself so that you are not found wanting and in breach of the ethical codes of conduct for legal practitioners.

A legal professional must therefore strive for excellence and ensure that opportunities are not missed, trifled with or ignored.
A practice may not achieve excellence or run efficiently if it is not run like a business. Always remember that an opportunity is a “fleeting moment”. It is a moment that must be grasped (by the tuft of hair on the personified forehead of the fleeting opportunity); otherwise, the moment is gone and cannot be re-captured (personified by the back of head being bald)”.

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