In the heart of the young lawyer just called to the Bar, fresh, wide-eyed with wonder, and unbridled strength to take on the world, one desire burns brighter than any other. The plan of tracing a successful path that leads all the way to the zenith of the profession while avoiding the minefield of financial bottlenecks seemingly in place to choke out dreams is always held on to with so much optimism at that point.
Despite glaring challenges, with a finely-honed sense of financial intelligence and the ability to map out emergent areas of law practice to venture into, the lawyer from the cradle, as it were, can live up to the dream of enjoying a successful legal career.
What then is financial intelligence? A peripheral understanding of the concept is offered up in the definition that describes it as a type of business acumen formed through the knowledge and skills gained from understanding finance and accounting principles in the world of business, with a view to applying such in real-world scenarios. Leading from this while understanding that the practice of law is a business, it is not far-fetched to state that the place of financial intelligence as a prerequisite for a lawyer who intends to succeed in the business cannot be overemphasized.
For law firms, financial intelligence could be incorporated under budgeting and planning. Budgeting herein should cover both income and projected expenditure. Revenue accrued by the lawyer should not just be frittered away via gargantuan and unjustified spending sprees. A cogent budgeting culture has to be inculcated and encouraged amongst lawyers from the point of call and in their early years of practice right up to the attainment of maturity at the Bar (which is a constant). It also should not be heard that the lawyer does not plan. Planning is key if the young lawyer truly aspires to succeed in the business of law practice.
It is worthy to note that the legal practice cloud in Nigeria is more or less saturated with conventional practice. This is why there is an urgent need to map emergent areas of law that seem almost untouched. These areas include Maritime Law, Space Law, Law of the Air and ICT Law amongst others. Most notable lawyers in Nigeria have made their mark by daring to deviate from the norm to carve a niche for themselves in nascent areas of the practice in the nation. These areas were those uncommon for lawyers to venture into at the time. For instance, Paul Usoro, SAN, FCIArb., often referred to as the father of Communications Law in Nigeria saw telecommunications as an emergent area of practice and took the bull by the horn.