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A regulatory body for law firms in Nigeria

A presidential aspirant for the Nigerian Bar Association in his campaign manifesto proposes a regulatory body to set standard for law firms in Nigeria if…

A presidential aspirant for the Nigerian Bar Association in his campaign manifesto proposes a regulatory body to set standard for law firms in Nigeria if he wins the election. This body, according to him, will determine if a firm has requisite potential, or better still, packaged environment to operate as a law firm.
It is worthy to note at this point, for the avoidance of any misconception, that the essence of this article is not to canvass support for the said candidate or any other but rather, a discussion on the possibility or otherwise of a concept new to our legal system.
It is no longer news that the law street is littered with law shops which ordinarily should not operate as a law firm in Nigeria, we are talking about law firms cited as bad examples to law students in law school, a one bed room/shop office, no secretary, just a lawyer waiting at the desk for a client to come into the office.  This  kind of firms give the profession a bad name.
It is also true that young lawyers without the requisite exposure and experience fresh from law school rush into opening a law firm, some have argued that they have done well so far and really don’t need number of years under someone to start up.  Others believe that a tutelage period is necessary before a young lawyer establishes his own firm, as the running of a firm goes beyond the structure, the organization of the firm and its operation matters a lot, so also is relationship between lawyers and client, how you file cases and so on.
Which begs the question; should there be such a regulatory body in the NBA that would license the operations of law firms in Nigeria based on the standard of office, management style and the welfare packages of your employees? If the answer is in the affirmative, what is the effect or impact of such regulatory body to the legal profession?
Some have argued that the program is not feasible and the regulatory committee will infringe on the employer’s right to determine what to pay his employees thus leading to litigation, others are saying that a minimum wage would lead to high unemployment as firms that could afford fifteen {15} thousand naira monthly for four young lawyers might be forced to reduce their workforce to accommodate the minimum wage.
Regulatory frameworks are evolving across sectors and across the world, why then should the legal profession not tap into such framework and fashion modalities to upgrade practice standards to place us at par with international colleagues?
There should be excellent legal practice management and client care in the Nigerian Legal System, a regulatory body would serve the purpose of setting the required standard for structure and strategy, financial management, file and case management, client care and adequate welfare packages for junior lawyers under their employ.
But then the Nigerian Bar Association while establishing such regulatory body must also ensure that the National Assembly passes legislations that would open up the legal profession, just to mention one out of many, legal documents like deeds, agreements, affidavits etc should only be enforceable by a court of law if prepared or franked by a Legal Practitioner.
This would go a long way to reducing the rate of unemployment that such regulatory committee might possibly cause. It is my humble opinion that if a standard is set before law firms are allowed to operate, this would institutionalize the firms in the country and encourage partnership amongst colleagues both between seniors and juniors alike.
In sum, the presence of such regulatory body would at least reduce the number of quack law shops littering the corridors of the profession, and serve as a booster for seniors who have good and comfortable firms but are lax on upgrading their firm to fit the current global trend like being ICT compliant for correspondences to be made by email, online research etc.
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