15th Annual Business Luncheon Talent Retention Challenges & Future Of The Legal Practice In Nigeria.

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  • Mrs. Abimbola Akeredolu SAN 1st speaker
  • Prof. Ernest Ojukwu
  • Ms. Aderinsola Fagbure
  • Ms. Yimika Adesola
  • Mr. Godwin Amadi

Opening Prayers by Mrs. Olanrewaju Kadri.

Welcome address by Mr. John Onyido (Partner S. P. A Ajibade & Co.)

We are delighted to have everyone joining us here today. The last edition and this current edition of the Annual Business have not followed the typical format of the Annual Business Luncheon due to the pandemic in the world generally. However, one of the benefits of this virtual edition is that we are able to reach a larger audience. That we are having this event virtual is also a significant pointer on the topic for discussion today.

In deliberating on the topic for the Annual Business Luncheon, suggestions were made that the wave of excellent and young talent especially lawyers leaving the country and profession is alarming and this birth the topic talent retention challenges and the future of legal practice in Nigeria for the Annual Business Luncheon. The younger lawyers are leaving the country to foreign countries and the probability of their return especially to the profession is uncertain unlike the older lawyers. There is a need to address this trend between the two generations.

Ms. Eke introduces the speakers: Mrs. Abimbola Akeredolu SAN.  Partner Banwo & Ighodalo, Prof. Ernest Ojukwu, SAN, Partner Ojukwu Faotu & Yusuf Yusuf, Ms. Aderinsola Fagbure, Black & White LP, Ms. Yimika Adesola, Legally Engaged, and Mr. Godwin Amadi.

The Moderator for the Annual Business Luncheon is Dr. Babatunde Ajibade, SAN, Managing partner in the law firm of S. P. A. Ajibade & co.

Discussion session

Dr. Ajibade question to Mrs. Akeredolu: As a senior partner in one the leading legal firms in Nigeria, is this the reality in Nigeria and how has this problem affected your law firm.

Mrs. Akeredolu gave her insight on talent retention in the legal profession in Nigeria and its impact and effect on law firm with excellent lawyers leaving the country. She stated that the exodus of talents leaving the country originated from the General Ibrahim Babaginda regime and the poor economy of the country. With the use of social platform in recent times, the algorithm was revealed and the trend became alarming. The insecurity level in the country increased the wave and not just in the legal profession but across every sector in the country. She stated that Law firms are adjusting to the waves and ensuring retention with tools and measures to reduce the wave of young talents leaving the country. She strongly believes that apprenticeship is essential, which learning the practical aspect of the profession as it done in other professional programs like medicine, engineering etc. The dynamism of the profession in practical mode is evident in foreign countries while the profession in the country rigidity to its traditional practice is discouraging. Lack of improvement and poor facilities in the judicial system has increased the wave of talent leaving the profession and country at large. The problems we face require multi-faceted approach to tackling the problem.

Dr. Ajibade question to Professor Ernest Ojukwu– As a professor of law and former deputy Director-general in the law and an academia generally, does the law school in Nigeria provide enough guidance to manage expectation of young lawyers in the legal profession?

Professor Ernest Ojukwu discussed about the connection with the curriculum in the law faculty and law school in aiding legal profession and careers of young lawyers. He explained that law undergraduates are interested in attaining the certificate and not the profession. The curriculum of law faculties in universities are more substantial which focused mostly on the philosophical and theoretical aspect of law which excludes professional growth for the students. He state that the 5-year program at faculty level should employ vocation training of the profession which harness students’ abilities and skills in the legal profession.  The importance of tutelage in the legal profession cannot be overemphasised as most new wigs are deprived of the necessary and adequate training and encouragement to pursue their career in the profession. Fair effective exposure to training, review and improvement of the curriculum both at the law faculties and law school is essential. The poor and insufficient facilities in the schools reduce the quality of training rendered to law students. Competence and skills of lecturers, career guidance and mentorship aids long terms goals in the profession.

Ms. Adesola emphasised on the importance of career mentorship and training for undergraduate, career exposures outside the four walls of schools. She stated that law students should be educated on the concept and scope of work of law firms as these would not be taught in law faculties and law school but through internship and professional trainings. For young lawyers, Ms. Adesola discussed about the work life balance in most law firms and the mental health and wellbeing in the profession. The expectation of young lawyers is shortened and the ridiculous pay in law firms dissuade young talents in the profession. The mismatch with ability and skills of lawyers, clashes between employees and employers, flexibility and the reward of working effective and efficient in law firms and tolerance to work from lawyers are the challenges that affect talent retention in the profession.

Ms. Fagbure – highlighted the need for emotional intelligence in the work place. They don’t have an appreciable work-life balance, toxicity in the work place and harassment of employee by employers. There is also an awareness of health, mental health and other areas.  In the Africa region, the quality of judgment in recent time discourages talent retention and most young lawyers explore opportunities in other areas.

Ms. Fagbure stated that employers should act like leaders, and not boss as people follow leaders and not boss. Provision of adequate guidance and training of the line managers are significant.

Mr. Amadi – deliberated on the introduction of law to undergraduates at an early stage. He believed that judicial precedents should be introduced at the initial stage of study as this would captures every aspect of law and students should be made very acquitted to them very early.  The culture of law firms should be taught both law faculties and law schools as this would captivates the interest of law students and aid their career growth especially in specialization and interest. He believed that the challenges in the profession is a recurring issue and understanding the profession paves way for a smooth career growth although the journey is not completely smooth.  Supervising talents by law firm through direct supervisors and managers will aid talent retention in the profession and this would reduce frequent disagreements that occur between talents and HR managers. Mr. Amadi believes that exit interview by employers, a culture we need to return to in the profession.




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