Before admission into the University and upon graduation from Law School, I had always known the furthest of my ambitions and from my mind was litigation practice. I always envisioned me surrounded by documents, contracts, laptops, not at a law firm but in some other aspect of the corporate world. My goals were resolutely set at Corporate Governance and Company Secretaryship.
It was therefore no surprise to my schoolmates to hear I was in the Banking Industry. More importantly so, the Legal department. There were and are (and probably always will be) the banters of having deserted the core of law practice for the comfort of a lush office. Honestly, I have given up the will to scold or try to understand.
Always baffling is the IGNORANT distinction people (lawyers and non-lawyers) make of the legal practice. It is regarded that anything short of adorning the wig and gown, attendance in court and display of argumentative capabilities (whether or not called for) is not legal practice. To the scholars of this thought, I say- to thyself be true, be honestly true.
However, (not aligning myself with the “scholars”), I dare say there is the tendency to fall into a rut of some sort, a lax, laid-back attitude. There seems to be no urgent need to be acquainted with case law, statutory changes etc as external counsel are the go-to persons if such information is required. The need to be abreast of developments and information is vital to a lawyer and his career, especially given the perception of lawyers as knowledge repositories.
For any career-driven individual, the satisfaction of any job is the (quick) rise to the top. I mean, irrespective of the salary or bonuses or profit sharing (P.S) received, without the climb, one’s career is simply stunted. Conscious of the above, I was recently faced with the ultimate (okay, maybe quasi-ultimate) choice. To choose between my comfort zone and a higher grade, better pay. Now, let me rebut your rebuttable presumption: movement from Legal functions (one extreme) to Operations (another extreme). Also, to be unambiguous, money has never quite been a driving force or a decisive factor when considering job switch.
I eventually decided to fall out of my hitherto rut and “taste” the other. Hopefully, my choice does not backfire. Regardless, (ideal) advice is to endeavour to enjoy one’s job, so it does not seem as “work”.
N.B. Realistically, even though our economic situation does not allow for such choice of jobs, we could make the best out of whatever.
By: Ahudiya Ukiwe