After my Call to Bar and Youth Service, I was lucky to be employed by a fast-growing law firm which placed a premium on providing an enabling environment and facilities for young lawyers to thrive and learn. Many of our colleagues are not that lucky. Over time, the complaints by young lawyers about the seeming indifference of the profession and association to their plight in terms of generally poor remuneration and abysmal conditions of service in many places appear to have gone unanswered.
Each year, thousands of lawyers are called to the bar – entering the labour market to compete for scarce law-firm openings. Some seek jobs in industry or other sectors, and many are compelled to set up shop immediately as untested vendors of legal services. Between the unconscionable exploitation of junior colleagues by seniors who ought to be their mentors, and the spoliation of client documents and matters by untrained new wigs, the profession is earning a bad name and sliding into decline.
Whilst the main focus has been on promoting the interest of young lawyers, there are several other special interest groups and vulnerable persons in the legal profession whose general welfare, peculiar needs and particular interests should be of concern to the association. In the course of my active service to the bar association, and over the course of the last eleven (11) months spent traversing the country (prior to lockdown) and consulting with colleagues regarding my aspiration to serve the Bar as General Secretary, I have heard the strident calls of these groups and persons for inclusion and consideration. Something needs to be done, and urgently too, to foster a real sense of an association that caters for ALL its members.
My view has always been that the NBA should be a big united family that takes cognizance of and protects ALL members and interest groups. The NBA must give priority consideration to the special concerns and needs of young lawyers, female lawyers, lawyers with disabilities, law officers, law teachers, and other vulnerable members or special interest groups in the profession. If, with your support and vote, I am elected as General Secretary in this election, I propose to work with the NBA President, national officers and other stakeholders to address their concerns. We will:
a) Pay special attention to and flag their needs for tailored continuing professional development and financial independence;
b) Recommend that the NBA mainstreams them into the affairs of the bar by appointing more of them into NEC and other Committees of the NBA in leadership positions;
c) Strengthen the Young Lawyers Forum, the NBA Women’s Forum and create other special interest fora for vulnerable persons and groups agitating for same so they can better aggregate their views and articulate their interests to the leadership of the NBA;
d) Encourage senior lawyers in the private and public sector who have the capacity to take up mentorship training programmes aimed at impacting younger lawyers on emerging areas of legal practice and career development;
e) Develop a digital library at the Secretariat and e-resources on the NBA website to assist lawyers (especially young lawyers) in their research;
f) Address the issue of realistic minimum remuneration and conditions of service for young lawyers;
g) Collaborate with the NBA Young Lawyers Forum to institute exchange programmes for young lawyers with regional and international bar associations – this will promote co-operation, collaboration and networking, which are essential keys for success in legal practice; and
h) Liaise with the bankers of the Association to provide loans to young lawyers who may be desirous of investing in partnerships or developing their practice.
We can and must protect ourselves – especially our members who need a helping hand. And it must be done as a matter of courteous right because it is the proper thing to do, and not as a token assistance or gratuitous favour.
If you elect me as General Secretary of the NBA, I Pledge to serve with the passion, integrity and efficiency for which I am well known, and to pursue this and five (5) other Core Pursuits which I have elaborated on in MY MANIFESTO to deliver a ‘Fit For Purpose’ Bar Secretariat. My Profile and Manifesto have been uploaded by the ECNBA and can be viewed at (or downloaded from) https://nigerianbar.org.ng/node/257.
I will place my time, energy, talents, experience and resources at the disposal of the Bar for the next two years, and offer the kind of premium stewardship which the Bar definitely needs at this time. The Bar needs a great scribe. I have been tried, tested and adjudged to be one.
I seek your mandate. Let’s do this together.
Alexander Nduka MUOKA
Candidate for General Secretary of the NBA