There’re numerous reasons why people choose to study law In Nigeria. Some are good and popular. Others are bad and unpopular. But the many who are drawn to the profession are usually more taken with its rewarding perks. The alluring prestige. Pride in donning the renowned wig and gown. Imminent change in social status. Promise of social impact. And most likely, the prospect of upward mobility. Buoyed by these enormous benefits of legal practice in Nigeria, many intending lawyers do rarely often check in with facts in the real world.
But as things often turn out, once they leave the ivory tower of learning and get to the real world, their once lofty ambition of making it big, vastly inspired by the glitz of fictional legal dramas are put to the test and do not stand up to scrutiny. Just as my humble self here also found out first-hand. Even as bullish and patriotic as I was of prospects for the profession, I wasn’t spared this unpleasant reality check.
If there was ever a worst time to become a lawyer in Nigeria, it’s now more than ever. To know why, one need not look beyond the news headlines – Country is in the throes of recession and economic crisis. The word on everyone’s lip is that things aren’t either working out or are taking too long to pick up. And caught in the wake of this geography of orbiting downturns are lawyers who too are feeling the pinch.
With clients all going bankrupt and moving their operations elsewhere, the demand for legal services has taken quite a hit. This leaves lawyers with little room for faint optimism.
And right on top of this, is the falling standards in the profession which is ousting the profession from its position of nobility and pre-eminence and hastening it’s freefall from grace. But amidst this swirling spate of gut-wrenching upheavals, nothing takes the rise out of lawyers more than the caricature wage structure in the country. The starting salary for junior associates in Nigeria ridicules reason and grossly undervalues legal services.
It’s sickening to think that after 5 years of putting up with a manic academic schedule, nonstop studying and the traumatic year-long law school academic pressure cooker, your reward is a N20, 000 ($57) monthly paycheck!. Thank you very much, but I’ll pass! That’s a poor valuation of our problem-solving skills, if not atrocious. And not only that, but it equally violates our economic right to adequate standard of living.
This horrible wage structure is the bane of lawyers practicing law in Nigeria. It’s the murkier, less often publicized aspect of legal practice in Nigeria. And had many intending lawyers known it, they might have reconsidered and quite possibly taken a rain check on the opportunity of joining a profession that treats its practitioners like trash.
It’s a horrifying exposé but now that I have your attention let’s talk about the otherwise oasis in this arid Nigerian legal profession. By that I mean the law firms that are bucking this trend of paying lawyers handouts for wages. These law firms are fanning the embers of rewarding pay for meaningful work done. As a lawyer working for these law firms, you stand to pocket at least a six-figure sum in annual earnings.
Among the pick of Nigeria’s leading high-paying law firms are Bloomfield Law Practice, a commercial law firm based in Lagos. Templars, a multifaceted law firm with offices spread all over Nigeria.
For the full list of top paying law firms in Nigeria visit lawrepository
A youngish lawyer with penetrating insight, Patrick Herbert is the Editor-in-Chief and founder of Lawstudenthub, a site dedicated to helping new wigs find their footing in a trickily slippery legal profession and stay current with emerging developments in the legal industry. He holds an LLB from the University of Benin and a BL from the Nigerian Law School, Abuja. In his spare time, Patrick doubles as a professional writer and copyeditor.
If you have any urgent enquiries, you can email him @[email protected]