A CHECKLIST OF 70 CORE CHALLENGES FACING THE LEGAL PROFESSION IN NIGERIA PLUS TASKS BEFORE STAKEHOLDERS.
By Sylvester Udemezue*
1) HIGH RATE OF UNEMPLOYMENT AND DISSILLUSIONMENT AMONG LAWYERS IN NIGERIA: Expanding the legal practice space to create more employment opportunities for lawyers and reduce the huge pressure on law firms.
2) HARASSMENT AND BRUTALIZATION OF LAWYERS IN COURSE OF LAW PRACTICE: Improving relationship between lawyers and Nigerian security and law enforcement agencies for a more efficient justice administration in Nigeria.
3) RISING RATE OF EXTERNAL INTRUSION BY NON-LAWYERS INTO LAWYERS’ TRADITIONAL LAW-PRACTICE SPACE: How stakeholders can help stop/reduce all aspects of external intrusions and encroachments into legal practice space.
4) RAMPANT INTERNAL CRISES WITHIN LAW OFFICES: smoothening relationship among fee-earners in law firms to enhance senior-junior cooperation, promote effectiveness in law firm management, and increase productivity in law practice and clientele coordination.
5) DELAYED JUSTICE DELIVERY: The Nigerian legal system is plagued with the problem of delayed justice. Cases take many years to be heard, and this is due to a backlog of cases. Efforts by stakeholders in the profession in collaboration with other stakeholders towards tackling this menace.
6) DIMINISHING PUBLIC CONFIDENCE IN JUSTICE DELIVERY: Efforts by stakeholders in the profession to restore public confidence in administration of justice.
7) POOR WORK-CONDITION OF LAWYERS IN THE NYSC PROGRAM: Efforts to improve welfare and work-conditions of lawyers in the National Youth Service Corps
8) POOR WELFARE OF JUDICIAL OFFICERS IN NIGERIA: Efforts towards improving security and welfare of judicial officers and Magistrates
9) CORRUPTION IN ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE: Corruption is a significant problem in the Nigerian legal system. Lawyers and judges who engage in corrupt practices make a mockery of justice and erode public confidence in the legal system. Way out
10) FREQUENT SHUT-DOWN OF COURTS AS A RESULT OF INDUSTRIAL ACTIONS: Role of stakeholders in the legal profession
11) CORRUPTION AND EXTORTION OF LAWYERS/LITIGANTS BY COURT SUPPORT-STAFFERS REGISTTRY OFFICIALS: Way out
12) LASPSES IN LEGAL AND INSTITUTIONAL ADMINISTRATION OF ESTATES: Role of legal profession stakeholders towards instituting measures to uplift the system to prevailing internal standards.
13) INEFFECTIVENESS AND CORRUPTION IN JUDICIAL APPOINTMENTS: Efforts to strengthen process of judicial appointments in Nigeria in order to enthrone and sustain merit, reduce ineffectiveness and curb corruption, and curb nepotism and politicization of the processes.
14) DECLINING QUALITY OF LEGAL EDUCATION: Efforts towards promoting professional legal education and upgrading teaching and learning infrastructure in legal education institutions in Nigeria. Strengthening partnership among stakeholders
15) DISSILLUSIONMENT AND DISENCHANTMENT AMONG YOUNG LAWYERS: Efforts to improve plight of young lawyers in order to restore their confidence in the profession. Since the future lies in the hands of the young lawyers, a better, more secure future for the profession must start with their present happiness and satisfaction.
16) DECLINING MENTORSHIP AND CAPACITY BUILDING: Role of stakeholders in strengthening capacity building, bar professional mentorship, integrity-building, value-inculcation, and prioritizing the young lawyer’s welfare, security, and inclusiveness.
17) THREATS TO INDEPENDENCE OF THE JUDICIARY AND POLITICISATION OF JUSTICE DELIVERY: Efforts towards achieving practical independence of the judiciary.
18) DECLINING QUALITY OF JUSTICE DELIVERY IN ELECTION LITIGATION: Role of law profession stakeholders in system-change towards greater improvements
19) LAPSES IN THE PROCESS OF CONFERRMENT OF SAN: Way out!
20) LACK OF TRANSPARENCY IN THE NBA NATIONAL ELECTORAL SYSTEM: Reforming bar elections in Nigeria to promote transparency and acceptability and minimize disenchantment and division within the profession.
21) NOTICED LAPSES IN THE NBA CONSTITUTION: Need for replacement/amendment to improve more inclusiveness, accountability and welfare and unity within the legal profession.
22) INTERNAL SQUABBLES AMONG STAKEHOLDERS IN THE LEGAL PROFESSION: Improving effective management of internal squabbles and discontent as a tool for promoting unity, oneness and progress within the legal profession in Nigeria.
23) PROFESSIONAL MISCONDUCT AND UNPROFESSIONALISM WITHIN THE PROFESSION: Lawyers and judges without ethics are as wild beast let loose upon the world. Law floats in the sea of ethics. Efforts towards improving effectiveness in application and enforcement of legal Ethics (in the bar and the bench)
24) STRENGTHENING LAWYER-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP for effective legal service delivery and client-confidence building.
25) REGULATION OF LEGAL PRACTITIONERS’ REMUNERATION: Efforts towards improving regulation and standardization of mechanisms, processes and procedures for lawyers’ remuneration, professional legal charges and recovery of professional fees in line with international best practices.
26) LAPSES IN LEGAL PROFESSION REGULATION IN NIGERIA: Way out
27) UNDER-UTILIZATION OF ICT FOR LAW PRACTICE AND JUSTICE DELIVERY: Improved utilization of ICT for effective justice delivery in Nigeria. Full and effective installing of relevant infrastructure for e-filing and e-service, virtual hearings, towards promoting effective and timely justice administration in Nigeria.
28) HARASSMENT, VICTIMIZATION AND ABUSE OF JUNIORS IN LAW OFFICES: Way out
29) UNENDING CONTROVERSY OVER PUBLIC LAW TEACHERS AND PRIVATE LAW PRACTICE IN NIGERIA: Way out
30) WORSENING INSECURITY IN NIGERIA: Role of lawyers and legal profession stakeholders.
31) LAW REFORM IN NIGERIA: Efforts by lawyers and stakeholders in the legal profession
32) DEBASED ELECTIONEERING CAMPAIGNS AND PATTERNS AMONG CANDIDATES DURING NBA ELECTIONS: Way out
33) MAKING LAW TEACHERS MORE EFFECTIVE: in promoting legal education, law practice, law reform, justice delivery and good governance in Nigeria:
34) WORSENING CURRUPTION AMONG PUBLIC OFFICE-HOLDERS: Role of lawyers and stakeholders in the law profession
35) WORSENING/POOR GOVERNANCE IN NIGERIA: Role of stakeholders in promoting good governance ethics and constitutionalism among public office-holders.
36) RULE OF LAW: Need to pay closer attention to promotion and defence of rule of law and core principles of democratic constitutionalism, beyond issuing public statements.
37) RISING CASES OF DISOBEDIENCE OF COURT ORDERS: Efforts by legal profession stakeholders towards curbing disobedience to court orders by powers that be
38) MENACE OF CONFLICTING COURT ORDERS: Way out
39) ABUSE AND MISUSE OF EX PARTE ORDERS IN POLITICAL CASES: Way out
40) FRICTIONS BETWEEN LAWYERS AND JUDGES; Role of stakeholders in smoothening relationship between courtroom advocates and judicial officers
41) CHAOTIC ISSUANCE OF RULES OF COURT AND PRACTICE DIRECTIONS BY JUDICIAL OFFICERS: Efforts towards delimiting role of these in justice administration and dispensation
42) INFLUENCE/ROLE OF THE SOCIAL MEDIA ON LAWYERS, LAW PRACTICE: Efforts to improve effective use of the social media among lawyers while delimiting role of the social media
43) LAPSES IN USE OF LANGUAGE FOR PROFESSIONAL LEGAL COMMUNICATION AMONG LAWYERS: Efforts towards improving use of the English language for effective and smoother professional legal communication, greater efficiency in law practice and law office management.
44) MENACE OF CHARGE AND BAIL LAWYERS: Way out
45) IMPROVING LAW OFFICE MANAGEMENT, ADMINISTRATION AND STANDARD OF LAW PRACTICE IN NIGERIA: Efforts to measure up to international best practices and 21st-century benchmarks
46) WORSENING REMUNERATION AND WELFARE OF LAWYERS IN PUBLIC SERVICE, including LOAN members, Law Teachers, Lawyers in Administration in the Public Sector, etc: Efforts by stakeholders towards enhancing remuneration and welfare packages for lawyers in public service in Nigeria.
47) POOR PERFORMANNCE, RISING UNPROFESSIONALISM AMONG PUBLIC PROSECUTORS AND SECURITY AGENCIES IN NIGERIA: Efforts by stakeholders in the legal profession towards promoting strict adherence to due process of law in criminal justice administration and public prosecution in Nigeria.
48) INADEQUATE FUNDING OF THE JUDICIARY: The Judiciary in Nigeria is not adequately funded. This has resulted in poorly equipped courts, underpaid judges, and lawyers and judiciary staffers. Efforts by stakeholders in the profession
49) WORSENING CONDITIONS AND POOR INFRSTRUCTURE IN COURTS IN NIGERIA: The infrastructure supporting the legal profession in Nigeria is inadequate. There are not enough courtrooms, and those that exist are in poor condition. There is also a lack of modern technology to support the legal profession. Efforts by stakeholders in the profession towards improving infrastructural amenities to make courtrooms more more conducive for members of the Bar, the Bench and the observing public.
50) POOR STRUCTURE FOR INSTILLING DISCIPLINE (BAR AND BENCH): Strengthening legal professional disciplinary procedures and mechanisms as a way out of rampant misconduct among lawyers and judges.
51) REASSESSING Career Prospects for Lawyers in Nigeria.
52) LAPSES IN THE FAMILY-LEGAL CAREER BALANCE: Building an effective career in the legal profession without harming the family institution
53) IMPROVING LAWYERS’ HEALTH, PHYSICAL AND MENTAL WELLBEING: Efforts by stakeholders in the legal profession.
54) PLACE OF ADR IN THE PROFESSION: Efforts towards strengthening ADR and improving synergy with litigation to assure effectiveness
55) POOR WELFARE AND REMUNERATION OF COURT STAFF AND POLICE OFFICERS: Efforts by stakeholders in the legal profession
56) REFORM OF THE SUPREME COURT, NJC, FJSC, SJSC, LPDC, etc to enhance transparency and professionalism and effectiveness
57) DELAY IN REPLACING RETIRING JUDICIAL OFFICERS: Role of bar stakeholders
58) POLICE REFORMS: Reforming the Nigeria Police towards greater effectiveness and professionalism.
59) FALLOUTS OF THE ENDSARS PROTESTS: Efforts by stakeholders in the legal profession.
60) FREQUENT FRICTIONS BETWEEN STAKEHOLDERS AND INSTITUTIONS IN THE LEGAL PROFESSION: Way out
61) REGULATION OF ADVERTISING BY LAWYERS: Efforts to live up to international best practices and 21st-century benchmarks
62) MENACE OF NON-LAWYER POLICE PROSECUTORS IN NIGERIA: Way out
63) MENACE OF FAKE LAWYERS & IMPERSONATION OF LEGAL PRACTITIONERS IN NIGERIA: Efforts by stakeholders.
64) IMPROVING HUMAN RIGHTS OBSERVANCE BY SECURITY AGENCIES IN NIGERIA: Efforts by stakeholders in the legal profession; implementation of Section 66(3) of the Nigeria Police Act, 2020 to assure permanent presence of lawyers in police locations across the country.
65) ABSENCE OF A LEGAL DEPARTMENT IN THE LOCAL GOVERNMENTS SYSTEM IN NIGERIA: Efforts by stakeholders in the legal profession towards urgent establishment of legal departments in local governments across Nigeria.
66) ABSENCE OF LEGAL DEPARTMENTS/SECTIONS IN PUBLIC MDA’S: Roles of bar stakeholders
67) LOCAL GOVERNMENT AUTONOMY & IMPROVED DEMOCRACY AND CONSTITUTIONALISM AT THE LOCAL GOVERNEMNMT LEVEL IN NIGERIA: Role of stakeholders in the legal profession.
68) SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: Role of bar stakeholders
69) FISCAL TRANSPARENCY, ACCOUNTABILITY AND CHECKS AND BALANCES WITHIN INSTITUTIONS, BODIES AND ORGANISATIONS IN THE LEGAL PROFESSION
70) The list is not exhaustive
Good leadership by the various groups, regulators, institutions, and organizations within the legal profession in Nigeria must be measured by their focus and effectiveness in tackling these or some of these challenges.
Sylvester Udemezue (udems)
Reality Ministry of Justice (RMJ)