Thursday, 7 June 2018



 Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chief Arthur Obi Okafor, has said legal practice  needs to be transformed.

According to him, an effective legal system would rub off on the economy.

Okafor spoke on the sidelines of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Young Lawyers Forum (YLF) summit at the Nigerian Law School in Lagos. Its theme was: Transforming legal practice for young lawyers: the option of information and communication technology.

He said: “When you’re talking about transforming legal practice for young lawyers, it is a little bit circumscribed and does not really portray where we’re going. We need to transform legal practice not just for young lawyers, but for all lawyers in Nigeria.”

The senior lawyer urged young lawyers to develop their knowledge of the law, learn new skills and make good use of technology.

He said: “It is today’s lawyers that will lead the legal profession tomorrow. Whatever knowledge they have today will shape the development of legal industry in Nigeria.

“The theme of the conference is just a pointer that legal practice in Nigeria needs to be transformed. When legal practice is transformed, it will impact positively on all aspects of our economic, social and political life.”

According to Okafor, ICT would be key in the transformation, adding that lawyers must be ready to operate in line with international standards to compete globally.

“To transform legal practice, we’re looking at the option of ICT. The world is a global village and we have continued to develop. We cannot rely on obsolete ways of life.

“We must move forward to meet the best international standards. Communication and technology drive the economy. This is a digital age,” Okafor said.

He praised the Bar association for its efforts to equip lawyers, saying: “The NBA is doing everything to bring lawyers to that desired status, to be able to compete globally.”

Other dignitaries at the event were Justice Raliat Adebiyi, who represented the Chief Judge of Lagos; NBA President Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN) and Mrs Amina Oyagbola, who gave the keynote speech.

Mahmoud said while ICT has its advantages, it could also have “disastrous consequences” such as when social media is used to promote hate speech.

He urged young lawyers to get familiar with the new NBA constitution and attend this year’s NBA annual general conference in Abuja.

Justice Adebiyi said lawyers have limitless employment opportunities as long as they acquire the relevant skills and knowledge.

“As lawyers, you can work anywhere. You can decide to work for an organisation, a bank or practice in court,” she said, adding that there was no shortcut to hardwork.

Mrs Oyegbola urged the young lawyers to acquire ICT skills and keep learning about new developments.

She said: “As lawyers, you must be aware of the ICT tools because it is a prerequisite for today’s legal practice.”

According to her, ICT enhances easy storage of materials, simplifies law firm management, enables lawyers to work smartly, eases legal research, boosts global networking, and speeds up adjudication.

Mrs Oyegbola said merely having access to ICT and being knowledgeable in it was not enough, as more was needed.

“ICT cannot make you a successful legal practitioners as it is just a tool, but honesty, integrity, hardwork, creativity and innovativeness, being an active listener, being curious and helpful will make you successful. Also, be open to opportunities and ideas,” she said.

Other topics discussed were: Building a 21st Century law firm: challenges and opportunities for the millennial lawyers and opportunities for young lawyers in Fintech.

YLF Chairman Mr Wada Ahmed Wada said the forum was organised to help young lawyers “improve on ICT, be e-friendly and know how to respond to clients when faced with challenges inherent in the legal profession”.

“There is need for us to reflect on the ongoing reforms in the communication sector of the economy,” he said.

Also at the event were Lagos Court of Arbitration President Mr Yemi Candide-Johnson (SAN), Mr Wokemi Esan (partner, Olaniwun Ajayi LP), Hamid Abdulkareem (Partner, Aluko & Oyebode) Desmond Ogba (Partner, Templars) and Abiodun Oyeledun (Partner, Details Solicitors), among others.

Credit: The Nation

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