A cross section of new wigs

A cross section of new wigs

Dear New Wig,

Welcome to the Nigerian Bar. You have the license to practice law, the prized crown for your 6 or more years (for ASUU strike victims) struggles. You learnt and read because the legal profession ought to be a learned one. You have learnt little and will learn more. Don’t be surprised that you were not told the simplest things.

They would have told you that adding the word “barrister” (“Barr.” For short) as a title prefixing your name is wrong right? Saw many of you congratulating yourselves on social media and signed of with “Barr.” prefixing your name. Rules are meant to be broken otherwise we would have nothing to eat. What is the job of lawyer if not to explore every loophole in the law for the benefit of the client? So aren’t we entitled to some privileges as lawyers especially as it relates how we are addressed in the English Language irrespective of the rules of grammar?

Since we can’t make the word “learned” a title we can affix to our name though we mouth it, carry it on our heads and appropriate it exclusively (like we appropriated Esquire in Nigeria), we can flex and oppress with our “barrister” title. Don’t forget, many people went to read to law not to practise, but to be called barristers. My sister told me of a particular incident she witnessed where a passenger who had bought a ticket at a Motor Park had come back to the attendant fuming for not writing her name properly. The bone of contention? Your guess is as good as mine, “Barr.” was not added to the name.

Even our lecturers in the university who are yet to get their PhDs would take refuge in the barrister title. Come on, you don’t expect them to bear a Mr. or Ms. like their informed colleagues at that level. So you are not wrong my dear new wig.

However the problem is the B.L title you also signed of with. I saw many of you sign of like say Barr. Amodu Layo Okeke LL.B (Hons.) B.L. What is B.L please and who awarded you that? Your B.L certificate is bogus and extraneous. You doubt me? Okay show me your BL certificate? Come on look well and see if you will find it in the two certificates issued to you? Guess by now you have called another person to help you to search for it.

There is no BL degree or certificate. BL stands for “Barrister-at-Law” which is a British title for lawyers. The Nigerian equivalent is “Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria”. The difference lies in the fact that the legal profession is fused in Nigeria as one can practice as both a barrister and solicitor unlike in Britain where a person can only qualify to practise as either a barrister or solicitor.

Well I don’t blame you. You were ignorant but not alone in your ignorance. Even many SANs have that bogus B.L claim on their resume. Talking about resumes, I guess yours is ready to fly or have taken off with the bogus B.L claim in it. Make the changes; you obtained two certificates after your success in your Law School exams; the Council of Legal Education Qualifying Certificate and the Body of Benchers Certificate of Call to the Nigerian Bar. So your resume should have those as the qualification obtained from the Law School.

Guess those are too long compared to your LL.B (Hons.) degree. Well cut it to “Qualifying Certificate/Call to Bar Certificate”. However, believe me some old wigs will still see that and ask you if you have been called to the bar because there is no B.L in your resume.

This piece was inspired by the story of a cruel stunt some senior colleagues pull at the expense of new wigs who add B.L to their resume as the qualification they obtained from the Law School. They ask for their B.L certificates. The new wig will confidently pull out his certificates and present them. The new wig is asked to show where B.L appears on the certificate and his ordeal begins. Many a new wig would swear the B.L was there and might have run off or that their enemies in the village are at work (whatever that means).

So the diehards who can’t drop B.L from your resume, be on guard just in case you are asked for your B.L certificate. Please don’t ask me what to do but all I can say is “don’t fall mugu!” Ciao!

Postscript: Contributions are welcomed from other readers of the blog on their experience as either  lawyers, law students or other members of the society on their experiences with or views about lawyers. Peace.

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Maduka Onwukeme is an Attorney, Creative Writer and Business Consultant. Follow him on Twitter, on Facebook or on Linkedin

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