DAY 6 – PUTTING YOU FIRST – PAUL USORO, SAN’S REFORM MANIFESTO FOR PRESIDENCY OF THE NBA

Human Capital Development.

The legal profession has been undergoing fundamental changes across the globe which have precipitated new kinds of challenges driven in part by emerging areas of legal practice. These changes come with increased costs, pressures and competition which demand innovation in the practice of law by lawyers. Meantime, Nigerian lawyers are in competition with their counterparts in other climes who are trained in and exposed to innovative technologies and complex business structures that support these emerging practice areas and business trends. While the practice of law evolves and advances around the world, the average Nigerian lawyer is unable to match that pace of development and indeed, may not even understand the dynamics of these developments sufficient to compete in the international legal marketplace consequent upon the dearth in human capital development and lack of proper training and exposure.

The NBA has a primary role to play in remediating this situation considering that one of the Association’s principal aims is the “Promotion and advancement of Legal Education, Continuing Legal Education, Advocacy and Jurisprudence”. In particular, the NBA has a significant role to play in human capital development of Nigerian lawyers and the development of competences in emerging areas of law. If I am elected to the office of the NBA President, I will tackle these challenges by doing the following, amongst others:

I. Overhaul the training of lawyers in Nigeria right from the University to the Nigerian Law School level to ensure international standards of learning and training. The results will show in greater skills and expertise, especially by the younger lawyers, in the delivery of legal services in Nigeria.

II. Restructure and upgrade the capacity of the NBA Institute of Continuing Legal Education (“ICLE”) to provide, regulate, and co-ordinate Continuing Legal Education training programme for lawyers across Nigeria. Ensure that the NBA ICLE delivers intensive CLE courses to members. I will continue to innovate and commit resources to new curricular initiatives and skills development with a renewed focus on the professional development of lawyers.

III. Introduce “Finance for Lawyers” as a compulsory module in the NBA ICLE law office management program. Lawyers are generally very wanting in keeping their financial records and also managing their finances and this reflects in the poor economic circumstances of some lawyers and their inability to meet their obligations including payment of remuneration to their younger colleagues. Some training in finance and its management as well as in investment opportunities will assist lawyers in better managing their law firms and finances.

IV. Independent of the NBA ICLE program, organize periodic workshops, seminars and training programmes on law office management generally.

V. Advocate for inclusion of mandatory Continuing Legal Education mandatory for all lawyers in the proposed Legal Practitioners Act Amendment Bill. The provisions thereon will also stipulate for the appointment of reputable certifying authorities therefor and the criteria for such appointments.

VI. Establish a model contemporary law office within the National NBA secretariat. This model office will be fully functional and operational with a library manned by a professional librarian and fully equipped with books, law reports and state of the art e-learning and resource materials. Lawyers generally will have access to the library based on prescribed eligibility criteria, but young lawyers will have priority.

PAUL USORO, SAN, FCIArb

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