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Frontline Presidential candidate in the NBA national elections 2020, Olumide Akpata, in a follow up to an earlier piece written to Nigerian lawyers on his pledge to run an all-inclusive Bar, has again written to Nigerian lawyers everywhere, setting out in detail and with timelines too, his plans for improving remuneration and earning capacity of lawyers in law firms. His statement is reproduced below:

I hope that you have had a restful weekend. As you start your week, I thought that I should let you know about my plans and policies on improving the economics of law practice for both the employer and the employed.

As we have all come to agree, law practice is a business and the earning capacity and financial sustainability of lawyers and law firms should be of concern to the Bar. While remuneration remains a purely contractual matter, there is so much that the Bar can do to improve the earning capacity of its members (whether as employees or employers).

I share the belief that the poor remuneration in our profession is, in many cases, a function of the inability of the employers to do better given their revenue base. However, I believe that through a deliberate and systematic approach by the Bar, we can increase the revenue base and overall earning capacity of lawyers and law firms.

In this respect, should I, with your support, have the privilege of being the President of the NBA, I plan to:

Set up by September 2020, a distinct NBA Remuneration Committee to carry out an empirical study of the cost of living and recommend a possible living wage for lawyers in different parts of the country.
Publish the recommendations of the Committee and develop by January 2021, innovative means of ensuring compliance with the recommendations of the Committee including, for instance, making compliance a key prerequisite for members seeking certain privileges in the profession.
Enforce by March 2021, extant policies around standardisation of lawyers fees and charges to tackle the practice of undercutting amongst lawyers. We have seen such measures implemented seamlessly by other professions and can take some lessons from them.
Advocate for the modification of extant rules on scale of charges to cover a wider range of legal services. For instance, the Legal Practitioners (Remuneration for Legal Documentation and Other Land Matters) Order 1991 is outdated and currently covers only legal documentation and land matters.
Continuously create the needed publicity for clients and the general populace to know that there are minimum fees fixed by law for certain legal services and that there are consequences for breach of same.
Recommend and encourage alternative business models and working arrangements that could enhance income, e.g. commission-based employment, part time work arrangements, partnerships and other types of contractual working arrangements that take account of the amount actually earned by the employee lawyer.
Engage with employers of our colleagues who are not in private practice, to ensure that their remuneration and emoluments are comparable with those of their other professional counterparts who occupy the same rank or position as them.
Protect our legal market from external interference, encourage Nigerian content in legal services and preserve the work of lawyers from other professionals and service providers. The legal profession has witnessed a lot of encroachment from other professions and these encroachments have resulted in diminished patronage of lawyers and consequent loss of earnings.
Deepen our market for legal services by expanding the practice areas of lawyers so that lawyers do not necessarily compete for work in limited areas of practice.
Build the capacity of lawyers in new and diverse areas of practice and implement quality training programmes to encourage lawyers to foray into more diverse and emerging practice areas.
Create sufficient platforms for lawyers to continuously network and interact with potential clients to generate more businesses and instructions.
Advocate for appropriate law reforms and justice sector reforms that will create a conducive environment for investments and as a corollary, increase the need for legal services.
These policies are a mixture of short, mid and long-term strategies to addressing this critical issue. I am confident that introducing, implementing and sustaining each of them will, over time, improve the earning capacity of employed lawyers and their employers and ultimately have a direct effect on the remuneration of lawyers. Like I said in my previous emails, you can count on me to actualize every promise that I have made to you, to deliver a Bar that Works for All.

My full manifesto provides further details on how we will achieve these and other plans. Please read more by clicking on this LINK.

Meanwhile, today is the last day for verification. If you havent already done so, kindly complete the exercise by clicking HERE. Completing your verification is a pre-condition for participating at the polls.

Please accept the assurances of my best regards, and have a productive and pleasant week.



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