I will be discussing 10 (ten) things every new wig must know – tips for new Lawyers. However, this writeup will also be very useful for old wigs.
Before I “unzip the box”, I will want to congratulate you on your Call to Bar. It is no small feat to be called to the Nigerian Bar.
“With great powers, comes greater responsibility”
The above quote bears in mind that you are saddled with great responsibilities which are not mindful of your background, experience, age, or any limiting factor. So, it is clear that being a lawyer is a burden and like any other burden, you must discharge them to be free.
As a lawyer (newly called or old wig), you have the right of audience in any court in Nigeria; from the lowest court to the highest court of the land (The Supreme Court).
However, this right comes with a lot of drastic implication. Such implication includes; you are qualified to practise law, draft letters and precedents, speak fluently, write and argue logically, etc.
So, let’s talk about the Ten (10) things every New Wig must know, they include:
1. You must know how to move a Motion in Court
Every New Wig must be able to move a motion in court. This is likely going to be a compulsory part of your first interview questions when you go on job hunting (especially litigation law firms). It will also be a major task given to you to undertake in the earliest era of your practice and even latter.
You can see our post/video on how to move a motion in court to help guide you. This is one of the compulsory things every new wig must know to help them succeed in their legal practice.
2. You must know how to announce your appearance in court
This might seem like an easy task, but don’t undermine it. It will determine if you get an early applaud or insult from the bench. You must know when to use My Lord, Your Honour, Your Worship, My Lords, etc., you also need to know if you are for the Defendant or Claimant or Plaintiff or Applicant or Appellant(s).
To announce your appearance, simply say: “May it please My Lord, I am J.O. Okusare, My appearance is for the Claimant (or Defendant or Appellant,etc.)”.
3. You must know how to read and endorse a client file
Your new employer will likely give you some files to go through and sometimes you will be asked to appear alone for such cases. You must be able to quickly look at the endorsement on the file (to know the history of the case) and also endorse the file after your appearance for such matters.
You need to know to swiftly read court processes and know what to ask your Principal concerning an ongoing case.
Endorsement of a case file helps any lawyer to quickly go through a case file (to know what stage the matter is in court and what has happened thus far in the case).
4. You must know how to ask Senior Colleagues for help
A lot of things will certainly be strange to you for a while. It is normal to feel helpless and lost this period. We have all been there. However, it is not time to do nothing about it. It is a time to ask senior colleagues for guidance, help and direction. Don’t be too shy or proud to ask for help on something you don’t know. It is better to be embarrassed in the office than to be embarrassed in court.
If you ask the necessary questions, you will feel more at ease and get to learn some of the tricks and tips of the profession quickly. You can sometimes ask senior colleagues outside your office for such guidance but be careful not to disclose client information with anyone as this can reduce the confidence given to your firm or likely make the firm lose such client.
5. You must know how to draft great letters/legal precedent
You will be asked to draft a lot as a lawyer. This skill will be very integral to your being called a great lawyer or a bad one. If you don’t enjoy drafting and writing, then legal practice might seem quite annoying for you.
However, if you are willing to learn how to draft; you can find some great precedent to work on. The journey of being a great lawyer is not a sprint but a marathon. You can only get better by constant practice.
6. You should be a Computer Literate
In today’s world, it will be unpardonable to be a computer novice as a lawyer. This is the major skill you will need to navigate your legal practice when you are not quoting law or showcasing your legal skill and knowledge. Most top tier Law firms will put this out as criteria for employment.
Besides, as a modern-day lawyer, your computer skill will come in handy in everything you do. I do encourage you to also possess an above-average level use of the computer to make you more valuable at your office.
7. You must know how to write a fantastic Curriculum Vitae (CV)
Well, Law school might have taught you how to make a good Curriculum Vitae. However, in the real labour market, such CV might not be able to compete for employment. In actual practice, your Curriculum Vitae has to stand out. Your Curriculum Vitae must show some form of elegance and professionalism. You can search google for such fantastic CV template or ask some of the people in top tier law firms for a copy of their curriculum vitae.
You can also download some wonderful software or apps that can produce amazing CV templates. This will make your job search a little bit easier. It is not uncommon to see people miss out on job opportunities daily because of poorly drafted CV. So, it is one of the highly recommended things every new wig must know.
8. You must know how to register a company
For Corporate Law firms, this is going to be their first interview questions. Don’t be surprised if you are asked if you can register a company. Prepare to answer such questions even if you haven’t registered a company before. You can call up a senior colleague to teach you the process.
You can also ask that you join such colleagues while they register new companies for their client. you can also google how to register a company in Nigeria. There are a lot of materials on that online. However, You can read our article on how to register a company in Nigeria – all baby steps.
9. You should join good law groups on various social media platforms
A new wig should join good law groups that can help foster his/her learning of the law. Such law groups will be helpful for job networking, law queries and solutions, profiling one’s niche or expertise in a given area of law, finding mentors, etc. Law groups from LinkedIn are highly recommended. It is also likely to find such great groups on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and Telegram.
10. You should know how to use your phone on the go to get instant result
One unique feature of a modern-day lawyer is been able to produce a great result on the go. A lawyer with a smartphone will appear more intelligent. Gracefully, with a lot of beautiful law software/apps to download from various online stores, you can not afford to appear not knowing the law on the spot.
You need to be able to have a lot of files and legal resources on your phone. This will make you more reliable. You can always read and learn the law from anywhere and everywhere. Thus, you are a fountain of legal knowledge anywhere you find yourself.
In conclusion, another bonus hint that should be added to this writeup on “10 (ten) things every new wig must know” is that you must keep reading. This will put you in constant touch with the law as you grow in the profession.
I hope you found this piece very helpful as “I close the box” to the 10 (ten) things every new wig must know.
Written by: Joseph Okusare, Esq.
Okusare Joseph is a lawyer, law blogger and YouTuber. He also consults for various client and companies.
You can reach Joseph Okusare on firstname.lastname@example.org for further help.