As I strolled out of the Police Headquarters, feeling very tired and done for the day, I realized that things were not the same anymore in my life, everything has changed. From the first day I put on my wig and gown and stood before a Judge of Federal Republic of Nigeria, my life changed.
I am a young practicing female lawyer trying to be relevant in the society. It’s a crazy world out there because it’s the survival of the fittest. Being a young practicing female lawyer is a whole lot. The society sees me as a hardened, uncompromising woman, which is a little bad for business, especially where you are hoping to settle down with a life partner in the society.
Now, because of the stigma of your profession (when it is believed that stubborn and arrogant women become lawyers, though not entirely correct), some male folk or their family members are not cool with the idea of having a female lawyer, for a wife. I have heard statements from guys like, “no oh! Abeg I don’t want barrister oh!” While I have seen guys who just need you in their life only because you are a lawyer.
Though you may find the right guy who appreciates all you are, but the general opinion is traumatizing. Then one still has to contend with some form of disregard and belittling attitude and mindset from clients. An example is a client (a woman at that), who openly expressed her displeasure on being assigned a lady (which happened to be poor me, but then why always me?) to handle her matter after she retained the services of my firm. My principal had sent me with her to the Police station to secure bail for her sister, an elderly woman who was in detention on the charges of conspiracy to commit murder and attempted murder.
My persistence as well as my excellent communication skills had paid off as the accused person was brought before the Magistrate Court the next morning. The client’s apprehension had eased off seeing the professional manner I had handled the matter especially, our meeting with the IPO. To cut the long story short, we later secured the accused person’s release after filing and successfully arguing a bail application on her behalf at the High Court.
To say I felt disappointed in the client’s lack of faith in my abilities because I was a young female and probably not imbued with the force society expects from lawyers, is an understatement. However, I did not blame her as her views are a general but ignorant misconception on the professional skills and competence of young female lawyers.
However, those who in their ignorance champion this stereotype, are unaware that a young female lawyer, with the necessary courage, and intelligence, can be and I dare say are more persuasive and result oriented with a physical charm, finesse and a touch of class.
Generally, the early years of practice for young lawyer is a hurdle to cross, as the profession is generally less rewarding at the early stages, especially if you have very little or no clue of what you should do when circumstances that require legal solutions appear. Persons who have legal problems and need the services of a lawyer may be doubtful whether to approach a young lawyer and the situation is made worse where the lawyer seems to be directly or indirectly limited in knowledge.
Most persons in need of legal solution settle for more experienced lawyers with years of practice experience. Now for the young lawyers to be relevant and convincing, they may have to produce results consistently for fewer charges. This may take 3 to 5 years, after which they may find their feet in the legal profession and then begin to break even financially; the wait and hardwork could be tasking and discouraging, but rewarding.
Where you are a young female lawyer, you may just have to work twice as hard to gain the trust of the people in the society with legal issues (legal issues could vary, it could be property alienation and management, corporate or commercial, termination of employment etc). This is just a tip of the iceberg of the various aspect where a lawyer’s skill could be needed. This requires that the person seeking help, will have a great level of trust in the lawyer’s skills, to the extent of paying for the services rendered.
Are you feeling her kaina flow! Unfortunately part 1 ends here. Part 2 loads in a bit.
Chinelo Oge Akorah is a Lawyer based in Asaba, Delta State Nigeria. She could be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org. She blogs on http://chineloakorah.blogspot.com.ng
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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