By Benjamin Chukwuma, Esq.
Role models. We all have them, or we should actually. Consciously or inadvertently, we pick certain individuals and like heat seeking missiles, home in on their actions and legacies.
The truth is, not all role models are commendable. Inevitably, even the bad apples have their admirers. Take for instance the constant spate of leaders often exposed for cutting corners (forging qualifications, corruption, crimes and forth, cheating in every possible way). As deplorable as their actions are, you will still find disturbingly large numbers of young people rooting for them.
Younger lawyers, like almost all young people are under a lot of pressure. This much is hardly news. Career moves need to be made carefully, family obligations must be met, and basic self-care must be handled. The question for the young lawyer becomes “which role model should I seek to emulate?”
Some answers are tailor made for questions that have not been asked. For the young lawyer, the answer in the simplest of terms is Paul Usoro, SAN. He’s hard to ignore. His towering stature looms quite highly against the backdrop of his peers in the legal profession. He has a law firm, Paul Usoro & Company, PUC, which is staffed by over 40 distinguished lawyers and several partners at offices across three different cities; Abuja, Lagos and Uyo. PUC is currently involved in at least 150 life cases ongoing at the nation’s Superior Courts.
Furthermore, with his decision to vie for the NBA Presidency, it is imperative to look at his long list of qualities, achievements, and years of experience in the profession. From giant strides in the courtroom to equally impressive ones in several boardrooms across the corporate arena, from helming one of the best law firms in Nigeria to garnering respect in academia, it would be puzzling to see a properly ambitious young lawyer claim Paul Usoro’s career is not one to strive to equal.
This is an individual who is famously conscious of emergent areas of practice, armed with superior prowess and knowledge of Corporate Governance, Law Office Management and Communications Law. He is also a Development Law expert with years of experience. To be that versed, he clearly understands the need for specialisation in the legal profession and still pushes to be relevant in as many spheres as possible.
To see such a lawyer who is respected not just by public officials and private citizens here in Nigeria but across the globe too and claim to not be motivated to be like him would be, to put it lightly, economical with the truth. Mr Usoro has a high level of experience in International Practice which is why he is ought out by international clients regularly.
To see a story arc that stretches all the way back to Ile Ife and Kaduna and then extend far into the future with such distinction and not be motivated accordingly would be quite absurd. The honest young lawyer understands the value of each successive milestone on the voyage to greatness. It is not to be taken lightly how illustrious Paul Usoro has been. Compare him to the best in Nigeria, even beyond, and you’ll only find trailblazing, excellence and consistency.
A cautionary note must be inserted here though. Paul Usoro’s career, for all its shimmering brightness and glory, it would ring hollow if you ignore a key part of the man that he is; his altruism. To him, gathering so much just to clutch and hoard it all without giving back is not a sensible life choice. A man of his means being willing to be generous with time, resources and experience is rare and yet, that’s the high standard to which he holds himself and others around him.
All of this leaves one asking the young lawyer thirsting to be great, how can you possibly not dip into this fountain of greatness? Paul Usoro can mentor young lawyers with his wealth of experience. He is the only one amongst all possible candidates with this level of qualification and experience. Holding him up to scrutiny makes it obvious that you truly cannot give what you do not have. That is not a problem for the learned silk at all.