How to Increase Employability Even as a Student or New Lawyer

You are currently at the university or the Nigerian Law School, studying largely the same curriculum with thousands of students across Nigeria. Upon your call to the Nigerian Bar, you and thousands of new lawyers will be released into the job market to sink or swim.

You have probably heard stories of how those senior students you looked up to spent many months searching for a good job. However, you also know that there are many other students who spent barely a week on the job market before they landed fantastic jobs.

The students in the latter category most likely able to distinguish themselves from their peers in some of the ways listed below.

Get good grades 

Good grades still hold a lot of weight when it comes to securing a good job. In fact, good grades are probably the most important thing employers look for when initially screening candidates for a job. At the most basic level, they at least serve a method to filter through hundreds of candidate applying for a role.

This does not mean that you cannot land a good job if you do not have a First Class or Second Class Upper, but, all things being equal, the journey around the job market is smoother with better grades. Good grades more often than not open the doors for you and give you the opportunity to showcase what else you have to offer.

Also, apart from the benefits that good grades offer on the job market, they also open you up to opportunities to further your education at some of the most prestigious institutions in the world. This could, in turn, open up more/better employment opportunities.

Undertake internships

An internship serves various purposes even beyond being a good addition to your CV. Undertaking internships both in and out of the legal industry enable you to –

  • familiarize yourself with the work environment including legal jargon, office politics and so on.
  • adapt to the working life i.e. waking up early every day regardless of how you feel, and working for a certain amount of hours per day.
  • pick up soft skills such as communication and interpersonal skills.

All these, in turn, enable you to garner the skills you need to succeed both at job interviews and on the job itself. For instance, a candidate who has spent six weeks interning at a law firm has more material to discuss at an interview with that law firm or a similar one, than a candidate who has never undertaken an internship.

Work on your CV

At times, it’s not your level of experience that stalls your progress on the job market, but the way you present it. To ensure that you are putting your best foot forward, consider doing the following as regards your CV –

  • Tailor your CV to each job you are applying for. The CV that would be appropriate when you are applying to a law firm may not be appropriate when applying to a government parastatal or the compliance department of a multinational.
  • Identify the skills needed to be a successful lawyer, and then highlight how you have developed these skills in your previous endeavours. This includes paid roles, unpaid internships and even volunteer experiences. There’s no room for laziness here; you have to put in the work. Click here for more details on how to do this.
  • Follow all of the CV advice and guidance set out here.

Increase your commercial awareness

Wikijob defines commercial awareness as a candidate’s general knowledge of business, and specifically, their understanding of the industry which they are applying to join.

The economy of the country is slowly shifting such that the people who are able to add the most value in the workplace, are the people who understand their business and its customers. Employers value commercially aware candidates because they are able to think outside the legal box and provide practical solutions for their clients. They are also able to hold conversations with clients and potential clients about a whole range of issues that cannot be found in a law textbook.

You can develop your commercial awareness by reading material relating to the economy and various industries. Do not limit yourself to material that contains legal arguments or discuss the legality of an issue, but also become familiar with literature relating to business, technology, manufacturing, finance, etc.

Do not neglect soft skills

When employers and recruiters say “Nigerian graduates are not employable”, what they usually mean is that the average Nigerian graduate has attended school and studied the relevant material enough to pass the exams, but has refused to expose himself to circumstances that will develop the soft skills that improve his ability to actually succeed in the professional world.

Examples of these soft skills are communication skills, tact, attention to detail and team spirit.

How you develop these skills would largely depend on the skill in question. Read here to understand some of the skills needed to succeed as a lawyer and how you can develop them.

Take up additional courses

The internet is full of courses on a wide range of subjects – legal or otherwise, and a lot of them are available for free or at affordable rates.

Websites such as www.wipo.int are particularly helpful for students interested in Intellectual Property for instance, but again, it is useful to not restrict yourself to the law in the strict sense. You could take up a course in Cryptocurrency, Derivatives, Debt Securities, Employment, Immigration, etc.

Whilst employers realize that taking a two-month course will not make you an expert in the studied field, taking these courses shows a desire to further one’s knowledge beyond the confines of the restricted legal education curriculum. It also shows the candidate has exposed himself to legal and business issues that some of his colleagues may not be familiar with.

Network

Networking is slowly becoming an over-flogged topic in the business world, but the benefits remain immeasurable.

Networking here does not necessarily have to be physical. You can observe and be involved in the legal space around you even online. The reality is an increasing number of people both in Nigeria and abroad, secure jobs because of who they knew.

In conclusion, the time to start preparing for your career is now. If you wait until you are ready for employment to do so, you might make your job search longer than it needs to be.

Yimika Adesola is the Founder of Legally Engaged and an Associate in the Corporate/Commercial law arm of a top-tier Nigerian law firm.

She advises blue-chip companies on various areas of law including mergers, acquisitions and capital raisings, restructurings, taxation, finance, employment, compliance, etc.

She also seeks to provide direction to students and young professionals by providing them with the information they need to launch successful careers and make better career decisions.

Follow Yimika on LinkedIn here.

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Maximising your Career Resources in the New Year

The beginning of every year comes with the opportunity to improve on the triumphs of the previous year, and to rectify any blunders recorded. The legal profession on all levels offers numerous platforms for its members to thrive. Growing your legal career is largely dependent on utilising the resources available to you and this piece aims at identifying a few of them as follows:

Have a Functional LinkedIn Account

The most important social media platform for a lawyer who intends to develop is LinkedIn. If you do not have a LinkedIn account, make 2018 your year to set up one.

Note, however, that it is not enough to have an account or a set up profile; you must go the extra mile of by being active on the platform. The profile that gets attention on LinkedIn is the active profile. Therefore to maximise your LinkedIn experience, you should engage in the following:

  1. Regular Profile updates: Here you review your profile, adding new achievements and progress. This will allow the LinkedIn community take note of your progress.
  2. Regular socialising and networking: Make it a habit to celebrate with your connections on birthdays and anniversaries; you may never know how far they’ll go in expressing their gratitude. Additionally, you’ll bring yourself closer to your connections, especially those who have advanced in the profession.
  3. Respond with comments on posts and articles read: Everyone appreciates a feedback on their work and giving it endears you to publishers on LinkedIn. The more articles you read and respond to, the more chances you have of connecting deeper with people. Every article you comment on attracts the author and his audience to your profile and that avails you the opportunity to have your activities noticed.
  4. Cultivate a regular publishing habit: Every profile is amplified by the level of experience listed on it and the quality of projects worked on. Now that your comments attract people to your page, feel free to post and share articles on your thoughts, the law, and life. The more posts you put out there, the better you will become at writing and the better you become at writing, the higher your viewers.

Identify Online and Offline Mentors

Ralph Waldo Emerson is credited as saying “every man is a hero and an Oracle to somebody and to that person, whatever he says has an enhanced value”.. Identify mentors on the areas you intend to grow and connect with them in the most direct and precise sentences.

Also note that the relationship with your mentor is tipped in favour of the mentor i.e. you stand more to gain from your mentor than vice-versa, therefore finding and staying under a mentor requires humility and patience because you’ll definitely be tested.

While you build your rapport online, always remember that the best mentor is one who can monitor your growth and whose interest is to see you become better. Therefore also identify and connect with physical mentors who can afford to make out time to meet with you.

You can also follow top-tier firms on LinkedIn and read their regular publications as a supplement to your learning.

Subscribe to Law Blogs that Publicise Regular Seminars

It is trite that learning never ends, therefore, it is important for a lawyer to be aware of the regular seminars and training that are available in the course of the year. With the right information, you’ll be able to position yourself for the right knowledge, paid or free of charge.

Keep a Law Journal

A law journal is a book that keeps records of your experiences in the profession, lessons learned and information garnered. A religious commitment to a law journal makes the journal a rich material when you intend to write on an issue or proffer a solution. Additionally, it is from the contents of a detailed journal that you can monitor your progress more efficiently.

Subscribe to Online Law Reports Suppliers

The use of online law reports have long been approved by our legal system, therefore every lawyer should capitalise on that resource. These suppliers not only make recent cases available, but they also provide laws and statutes that come in handy during research.

Volunteer

There will always be opportunities for you to offer your expertise for free. Don’t ignore them. Our lives are best lived when we offer help to those who may not be able to repay us. Additionally, in volunteering, you learn, grow and enlarge your capacity.

Be Consistent

The key component of maximising your legal resources is consistency. Without it, you will not be able to get the best out of the platforms. You must make a commitment to keep at it until it breaks through.

Success is not seen in action but in productivity, but it is your consistent activity that produces the required results.

In conclusion, the points highlighted above do not exhaust the subject, however in applying them, you avail yourself a wider opportunity to meet and exceed your career goals for the year.

Derek Chisom Nduka-Edede is a corporate, litigation, arbitration and real estate lawyer with experience advising on dispute resolutions, business management, interviewing and counselling, public speaking and seminar presentations. He is a law graduate of Abia State University and was called to the bar in 2016.

He is an alumnus of The Abia State University Law Clinic where he headed the freedom of information Act unit that conducted laudable community projects and also interviewing and counselling seminars and training.

He is currently an Associate with Akeremale Abayomi & Co.

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Dealing with Job Rejections

We are all familiar with the statistics – thousands of people are called to the Nigerian Bar every year to join even more thousands already roaming the legal job market. Only a very tiny percentage of law school graduates land the job they want immediately after school. The vast majority of new lawyers have to spend months job hunting before finally settling for something they consider less than ideal.

However, by thinking objectively and carrying out a few exercises, you can learn to properly deal with the rejection, and more importantly secure the career you desire.

  1. Do not lose hope

It’s not you, it’s them

It can be a major blow to a candidate’s self-esteem when they constantly receive rejection emails, or worse, no response at all. The first thing to do, which understandably is often the most difficult, is to decide that you will not take the rejections personally.

It is helpful to realise that beyond your ability to do the job, there are many factors – right or wrong- that determine whether you are called for an interview or hired.

The organization may already have too many employees of your ‘type’; it may not have any vacancies fitting your skillset; it may feel that you are overqualified; your application may not even have been opened because the HR department was not doing its job properly. The possibilities are so limitless that it is actually pointless to take rejection personally.

  1. Be honest with yourself

It’s not them, it’s YOU

Whilst all of the above is true and there are many factors that determine whether a candidate is hired, candidates need to be brutally frank with themselves and accept their own part of the blame.

Did you honestly send out the best application that you could on every single occasion; was your correspondence error-free; did you properly highlight your experience; did you follow the simple instructions that were provided by the hiring firm?

If you were called to an interview; did you conduct extensive research on the company beforehand; were you appropriately dressed; did you get there on time and conduct yourself in a professional manner throughout?

Answering the above questions truthfully will uncover areas that you need to work on.

  1. Ask for feedback

If you feel that you have done all you know to do as far as job applications go, it could be helpful to get an outsider’s perspective.

In some cases, especially if you made it to the interview stage, you might be able to approach the hiring manager for feedback on why your application was unsuccessful. If the rejection is delivered via email or on the phone, politely respond by asking the hiring manager to let you know how you can improve your prospects in the future.

Where you are unable to do this or you did not proceed to the interview stage, consider speaking to a senior colleague. Ask them to review your CV and cover letter(s) and provide their honest feedback on your prospects.

When you receive the feedback, again, resist the temptation to take it personally; it is a great opportunity to return to the drawing board and come back better-equipped.

  1. Re-strategise

Insanity they say is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. Once you have had a frank conversation with yourself and received feedback, make the necessary changes.

That copied and pasted CV/cover letter clearly hasn’t gotten you anywhere thus far, so it may not be fit for purpose; give it an overhaul. Change your interview wardrobe; practice your responses to interview questions, etc.

It may be necessary to reach out to a professional to help you review your CV or prepare for interviews. If this is the case, resist the temptation to be penny wise pound foolish.

  1. Do something while you wait

Half bread really is better than none.

These days, the fact that a candidate has been out of a job for six months is not an excuse for a six-month CV gap. Depending on the circumstances, it might be wise to take up roles you consider to be less than ideal.

You stand a better chance of, for example, getting into a big Litigation law firm when you can show that you have spent the last year working with a smaller one-man Litigation firm, honing the skills required to work in Litigation. This is better than telling a hiring manager that you have been doing absolutely nothing for the last year because you are “job hunting”.

If you look closely around you, you will find that there are vast opportunities you can take advantage of even while unemployed. Unfortunately, you may need to be prepared to take up an unpaid opportunity, if it presents a good opening to bring you closer to your career goals.

In other cases, young lawyers have even gone ahead to create opportunities for themselves by taking up and handling briefs for private clients. This is extremely valuable experience if it is appropriately showcased on your CV.

  1. Develop yourself

Following from the above point, spend your resources on initiatives that will enhance the odds of securing the career you want. These may be workshops, online programs, group memberships, etc.

 

If for example, feedback has highlighted that your grades are standing in the way of your desired career, under proper mentorship and guidance, seek out programs that could allow you to bridge the gap.

  1. Try try try again

Once more, do not dwell on past disappointment, but keep seeking new opportunities because even if you are not contacted for one vacancy, your CV may be retained and you may be contacted to fill another vacancy.

Keep in mind that when you were actively applying but did not get any offers, you at least stood a chance; now you have decided to give up you stand NO chance at all.

Keep it moving!

 

Yimika Adesola is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Legally Engaged. She is a corporate lawyer with a diploma in Human Resource Management, described by This Day Newspaper as “a young and clever lawyer who has been blessed with foresight”.

In her professional legal career, Yimika has advised an assortment of sophisticated Nigerian and international clients on various areas of law including mergers, acquisitions and capital raisings, restructurings, taxation, finance, employment, compliance, etc.

She seeks to provide direction to students and young professionals by providing them with the information they need to launch successful careers and make better career decisions. Follow Yimika on LinkedIn here.

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The Jumping Ship Series (Quitting Your Job); Part II – Hear from those who have done it successfully

In the last part of the series, we discussed some of the factors that young lawyers should consider before making a decision to switch from one law role to the other. Following on from that discussion, we interviewed practicing lawyers who have held multiple roles in the past and asked them to share their experience with us.

In the next two parts of the series, we have condensed the good and the not-so-good feedback we receive from these lawyers. I.e. we will be highlighting the experiences of both those who felt they made a fantastic move, and those who regretted their move. In this part, we would be hearing from those who are pleased with the consequences of their decision to move – how they arrived at the decision and the factors they considered.

Please note that we interviewed several lawyers, but as sentiments expressed by these lawyers were similar in various respects, we have chosen the two interviews we believe would be most helpful to our readers.

At what point did you decide it was finally time to quit your job?

 Respondent 1: On the two occasions I have made a switch, I didn’t get to the point where I was either persuaded or forced to change jobs. On the first occasion, when I moved from a law firm to a telecoms company, I was enticed by better working conditions, remuneration and career advancement. When I later left that role for an oil and gas company, it was mostly for better career challenges and a change of environment.

Respondent 2: I quit my last job when I got an invitation to be part of the pioneer team at a new firm with very lofty goals and expectations. I knew it was time because I was assured I’d finally be doing the sort of work I wanted with a team that recognised and appreciated my skill-set.

How long did you work at your former organization before quitting?

Respondent 1: 3 years

Respondent 2: 1.5 years

How did you search for/come across your new job?

Respondent 1: I stumbled upon the vacancy on one of my daily email job alerts I receive till today.

Respondent 2: The short version of this rather interesting story is that I was invited by the head of the team starting the law firm I now work for.

What was it about the new job that attracted you or sweetened the deal?

Respondent 1: (i) the title; (ii) the exciting prospect of moving to a more structured corporate environment with better-defined structure, roles and progression plan; and (iii) 100%plus increase on my then salary in addition to other “unusual” benefits.

Respondent 2: (i) the opportunity to be on the ground floor of an exciting new challenge; (ii) the opportunity to work closely with some individuals I consider to be mentors; and (iii) a brilliant financial incentive.

What do you wish you had considered before quitting?

Respondent 1: I have no regrets at all. I have been here for 5+ years and know that it will keep getting better.

Respondent 2: Nothing.

Before quitting, what steps did you take to satisfy yourself as much as possible that you were making the right decision?

Respondent 1: I contacted one of the people currently working in the organization to give me insight as to how the organization works. He also gave me information and guidance on how to negotiate my employment terms.

Respondent 2: I consulted my family and sought advice from people who had been in similar situations in the past. I also considered the compatibility of the potential employer with the achievement of my professional goals.

Finally, I asked myself if the risk of leaving my job with a well-known firm with international relationships would pay-off and whether I was likely to be starting from ground zero if I made a mistake with my choice. In the end, I was convinced that I was making the best decision by moving.

On a scale of 1-10 (1 being the lowest) would you say you made a good or bad decision?

Respondent 1: I would rate it 9.999 just because there is no perfect place to work. This is of course based on my own experience and in comparison to the places I have worked in the past.

Respondent 2: I rate the move an 8. I absolutely believe I made the right decision; the new job has not come without its own new challenges, but I think I am where I need to be at this stage of my life.

Would you go back to your former organization if given the opportunity?

Respondent 1: Most unlikely, except in a very senior role and with a commensurate package.

Respondent 2: I don’t think so.

We believe that it is important to highlight and reemphasize a few important points:

  1. In both instances, the respondents left their firms because they believed that there was a better opportunity for them outside of its walls, and not just because of hardship they were facing at their firms. Please note that this in no way suggests that you should remain at a firm where you are being maltreated or your career progression is severely threatened, however, it is highly essential to note that as Respondent 1 mentioned, there really is no perfect workplace.

 

  1. Both respondents mentioned that they were enticed by the challenges and increased responsibilities that the new roles would bring. We believe that at the core of this is a quest for real career development. This quest is essential for lawyers who are looking to build a strong career, and not just looking for the next ‘in’

 

  1. In both instances, the respondents were also enticed by remuneration and benefits. We are of the view that it is perfectly acceptable to take a new role because of the pecuniary benefits. However, pecuniary benefits should not be the only consideration or even the most important consideration.

 

  1. Both respondents mentioned that they consulted widely and conducted extensive research and due diligence before accepting the new offer. The importance of this cannot be overstressed. As discussed in the last part of the series, speaking to people (insiders, trusted friends, colleagues and mentors), will help you see things from a subjective perspective. A lot of the time, it is difficult to see and judge a situation clearly, when you are affected by it. This is especially so when you have already decided that you would like to accept a job offer; it may be difficult to see any reason why you shouldn’t, except with the help of an outsider.

 

In the next part of the series, we will be speaking to two lawyers who took jobs they wish they hadn’t taken or who made ‘right’ move at the wrong time in their careers.

Stay tuned!

 

Yimika Adesola is the Founder of Legally Engaged and an Associate in the Corporate/Commercial law arm of a top-tier Nigerian law firm.

She advises blue-chip companies on various areas of law including mergers, acquisitions and capital raisings, restructurings, taxation, finance, employment, and compliance.

She seeks to provide direction to students and young professionals by providing them with the information they need to launch successful careers and make better career decisions. Follow Yimika on LinkedIn here.

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The Jumping Ship Series (Quitting Your Job); Part I – Do You Really Need a New Job?

Studies conducted in the USA show that almost half of employees are outrightly dissatisfied with their current job, while a whopping 81 percent of those in employment are actively searching for a new job, or immediately planning to embark on a search. In a country where the work conditions are not as employee-friendly, one can only assume that if such studies were conducted in Nigeria, the numbers would be even poorer.

Most, if not all of us, reach the point where we are totally fed up with our current roles. It may be the routine, the work environment, dissatisfaction, pay, career stagnation, etc. But, there are good reasons for leaving a job, and there are not-so-good reasons. It is possible to be so blinded by your current circumstances that you end up jumping into worse circumstances. Whilst a new job is hardly a lifelong commitment, it could be difficult to recover from the effects of joining the wrong place, or even the right place at the wrong time.

A good test handed down to me by a senior friend is that as far as employment opportunities go, one should be pulled and not pushed. What this means is that as a general rule, one should leave a current role only because s/he feels s/he is being called to something better, and not (merely) because s/he is being pushed into the job market by his or her current circumstances.

Below is a list of some of the factors you need to consider, and questions that you should ask yourself if you find that you have decided to ‘jump ship’.

This article (and the others in this series), focuses on employees who are considering leaving their current jobs for largely the same job in another organization.

Establish what you are looking for

Whilst this article seeks to highlight some factors you should take into account when you are considering quitting your job, all of these factors will be subject to your personal circumstances. It is important to set out clearly if you haven’t done so, the things that you feel are important to you in any role. This could be autonomy, variety, pay, friendly work environment, among many other things.

Is your current job really that bad?

Once you have established the things that are important to you, it is important to then assess as objectively as possible how your current job measures up. Get as practical as possible; write out a list of the factors that are important to you and rate your current job or place of employment on a scale of 1 – 10 on each of those factors.

If you are able to do this objectively, you would begin to gain a better picture of why it is you have decided to leave. Where possible, to get a fresh/different perspective, ask colleagues for their opinion on how your workplace performs on each of those fronts.

This exercise would help you to be able to determine if the situation at your current place of employment is salvageable. Again, it is important to be as objective as possible. Consider speaking to a trusted senior about your contemplation, but be extremely careful to ensure that this person is someone you can trust and who will not betray your trust.

Rating your current job based on the factors you consider important will also help you identify the things to look out for in your next role so that you avoid jumping from frying pan to fire.

Have you gained enough experience?

Millennials are often accused of serial job-hopping. They are seen as being largely unable to stay in a job for longer than a year or two. This is in large contrast to the baby boomers that characteristically spent decades on the same job, and pride themselves in their long service awards.

Whilst it may not be necessary to put strict timelines on job roles (some people say two years), there are many benefits of staying in the same place of employment for a decent amount of time.

Most people are not automatically good at their jobs or careers. They need time to hone their skills, grow in the job and get to the place where they feel like they really understand what they are doing. This usually cannot be achieved after a few months, or years, in some cases. It is usually advisable to begin considering changing organizations at a point in one’s career where one reasonably understands the profession and the direction in which one is looking to steer one’s career. Again, this is usually not after a few months.

Besides, it’s easier to market yourself for a new job when you have been at your last one for at least a decent amount of time. A string of ten-month stints does not give an employer confidence in your loyalty, maturity or ability to persevere.

Promotion prospects

The prospect of promotion in itself is a very important factor to consider when deciding whether or not to work at a particular organization. Depending on the circumstances, when it becomes clear that you are constantly being passed up for promotions, it might be wise to leave before it is too late.

However, promotion considerations could be even more important when making a switch. This is because some organizations are known to favour the homegrown employees when it comes to promotions. They feel that these employees better understand the organization’s culture or just deserve the promotions because they have done their time.

So even though you feel that you may be due a promotion at a certain time because you would’ve been due that promotion in your former place of work, there may be a period of time where you may be required to “pay your dues” before you are considered for a promotion in your new place of employment.

Salary

Though as they say, money is not everything, it is still important to consider.

It may seem that you are being offered more money on your prospective new job, but consider increased expenses on things like transport for instance. Also, take into consideration benefits you receive at your current organization (lunch, cell phone allowance, medical, etc.) that you may now be required to pay for out of your “increased” income.

Is there something else going on?

Sometimes it’s easy to blame work for the stress we endure, but it could be personal issues, poor health or sleep habits, or even laziness that it the real problem. It is advisable to get to the root of the problem to avoid getting a new job only to face the same issues.

In summary, when considering a job change, ask yourself “am I taking a good job, or really just running away from a bad one”. The intention of this article is not to dissuade you from leaving your current place of employment for what you perceive to be greener pastures. It merely seeks to ensure that you have considered both sides of the equation before making such an important decision.

If you are in a place of employment where you feel that your health (mental or physical) is at risk, it would be advisable to leave!

Yimika Adesola is the Founder of Legally Engaged and an Associate in the Corporate/Commercial law arm of a top-tier Nigerian law firm.

She advises blue-chip companies on various areas of law including mergers, acquisitions and capital raisings, restructurings, taxation, finance, employment, and compliance.

She seeks to provide direction to students and young professionals by providing them with the information they need to launch successful careers and make better career decisions. Follow Yimika on LinkedIn here.

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Qualified Lawyer & Project Manager; we interview Obinna Okonkwo

Obinna Okonkwo is a qualified Lawyer, Project Manager and Seed-stage Venture builder. He currently heads the Project Management Department at Funema Group, a Lagos-based Growth Consulting and Venture Building firm.  He is also the founder and Program Director of a startup social enterprise, Change Lead Africa.

A Law graduate of the University of Benin, his previous roles include serving as Project Lead for a South-African Consultancy, Beyond Tomorrow and a Nigerian Strategy Consulting and Business Support Services firm, Ignite MINDs.

He is a trained Project Management Professional and is a Certified Member of the International Strategic Management Institute (ISMI). He is also a member of the prestigious YALI Network (Young African Leaders Initiative Network). Obinna Okonkwo was recognized by a Pan-African online community of African Motivational Speakers-www.motivationalspeakersafrica.com- as one of the fastest growing Leadership and Business speakers/trainers in Africa. He is passionate about Peak Performance, Personal Effectiveness and Productivity.

Obinna typically enjoys travelling, reading and watching football.

Please note that all opinions expressed in this interview are the opinions of the individual interviewed. They do not necessarily represent the opinion of their employer or of Legally Engaged.

Please give a brief overview of what you do

I am a Project Manager and Seed-stage Venture Builder. Currently Leading the Project Management Department at Funema Group, a Growth Consulting and Venture Building Firm based in Victoria Island, Lagos. In my Project Management role, I initiate, plan, execute and coordinate in-house projects and external projects, usually for client organizations.

Why did you decide to study law?

My foray into Legal Studies was inspired pretty much by my admiration for the profession. Law vests an unrivaled prestige on any one individual. That was enough inspiration for me to persevere through the gamut of studies both at the university and Law School.

Why did you decide to leave legal practice?

The decision to leave legal practice was purpose-driven. I had begun my journey in Management Consulting, Project Management and Corporate Training as early as my second year at the University of Benin. I knew exactly what I wanted and why. So I began working, as an intern, with local and international consultancies usually in project support roles. I grew from there.

Would you advise someone with similar ambitions to practice law for a while or not at all before exiting?

Well, I ventured into professional project management right after Law School. It worked for me because I had a clear path to follow and available opportunities- cultivated opportunities I should say.

Legal practice was not in my itinerary. But my experience is by no means a template. I think one should have a clear-cut understanding of what she wants and begin early, even while in school, to cultivate opportunities.

The availability or otherwise of opportunities greatly influences one’s decisions after graduation. You can stay in control of the opportunities available to you by actively identifying and cultivating your opportunities early in the game. In other words, gain an advantage over your peers by positioning yourself in your area of interest. This would, almost always, afford you a head-start at the point of graduation. You can achieve this by building productive relationships with successful individuals in any field that interests you, ask for mentorship and politely engage your mentors while you study. These individuals are giants on whose shoulders you need to stand. I call this, the “Unfair Advantage”.

How would you describe your workload?

It’s a lot of work, you know? Project Management demands a high deposit of Emotional Intelligence because it comes with a lot of responsibilities.

As a Project Manager, everyone is looking up to you to make important decisions, to step up and lead, to pay a very great attention to details and to spearhead the team’s efforts for nothing short of excellence. The success of any given project, internal or external (for clients) literally hangs on the shoulders of the project manager. So as you might imagine, it’s a high stress, high-pressure endeavor but absolutely rewarding. It’s thrilling to be responsible for the success of any endeavor. That’s leadership in its purest expression.

I have a 60-hour work week, 12 hours every day. I work on weekends when there are deadlines to meet. Many times though, I work remotely on those weekends; it’s a little more flexible.

 In your opinion, what is the most challenging aspect of working in your field?

The most challenging aspect of working in Project Management is building and managing relationships. It is finding a way to build productive teams and keeping them motivated until the project objectives are achieved. This can be a tough proposition.

I miss the adventurous nature of legal practice. A lawyer gets to work on different issues per time but a project manager is usually restricted to a niche or at best a few niches. Project Management is industry-specific. I have a rich project management experience and expertise in building and scaling companies to the point where they become attractive to venture capitalists (we call it “taking a company from 0 to 1”). I can’t boast of expertise in managing projects in Real Estate or Oil & Gas for instance, but, I miss sailing on the adventure waters of legal practice, especially early-stage legal practice before one begins to specialize.

In your opinion, what is the most rewarding aspect of working in your field?

It is most rewarding to oversee a project to success. A few things could give one more joy than managing a project which turns out to be a success. This is rewarding as it is absolutely a confidence booster. It’s the attraction I have for project management- the acute leadership responsibility that flows with it.

If I were in legal practice, I may need to depend on a number of seniors to make decisions while I execute. Typically, this status may be the same for some years, perhaps 5 years. I surely do not miss this aspect of legal practice.

 What is the most memorable thing that happened while working in your field?

The most memorable experience I’ve had thus far in my field was when I learned I’m on course to becoming a Vice President at our firm, running point on all projects in Nigeria and South-Africa where we are fully operational. It was a scary discovery really. Scary because the workload I’m currently handling is quite overwhelming. One wonders how it’s going to be when I begin leading teams across 2 countries. Scary but exciting!

 What advice would you give to aspiring lawyers looking to work in your field?

I believe that Project Management is the real deal. Many companies, especially professional services firms, are in utter need of project managers globally. The demand is crazily high.

About 30% of partners in McKinsey & Company, a renowned multinational Management Consulting firm, comprises lawyers? The Law degree is a passport to any destination you can think of. With it, you can apply to work in any organization under the face of the sun.

Place a laser-sharp focus on being the best at your level. If you find yourself attracted to project management, begin to carry out research on the field. Take courses on the subject (avail yourself of online courseware like coursera.org and futurelearn.com). Who says you can’t go for a PMP certification before you’re done with Youth Service? The PMP is the certification of most distinction in the field of Project Management.

Begin early to cultivate your opportunities. Take internships in project support roles if you can. Ask to work for free. Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer!!! You sure won’t regret it. Project Management comprises experience, proven leadership abilities and raw doggedness.

Would you say that skills gained at Law School or legal practice have been useful in your field?

Absolutely! Being a lawyer is an added advantage to a project manager. That explains why firms like KPMG, McKinsey & Company, PwC and other top-tier consulting firms appreciate applications from lawyers. The training format for a lawyer affords him the best shot at analytical and strategic thinking. These are the tools of a Project Manager or Management Consultant.

In hindsight, is there anything you would have done differently?  

No, there isn’t anything I could’ve done differently. For one, I don’t regret studying Law. I am happy I am a member of the noblest profession in the world. If I have the chance to do it again, I’d take it!

legallyengagedQualified Lawyer & Project Manager; we interview Obinna Okonkwo
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An Introvert’s Guide to Networking at Professional Events

The majority of people are naturally introverts, particularly in professional settings. However, in most lines of work, that warm and cosy shell is more often than not, a limiting wall – proper networking will open numerous doors that would otherwise have remained closed to a young professional.

So, for those that are not naturally outgoing, this is a list of tips to help you master the art of networking at events.

  1. Go with others

If you are new to professional events, it helps to attend with one or two people that you already know. This can help boost your confidence so that you don’t feel self-conscious sitting by yourself. Attending with other people also opens you up to their network of professionals and you can get introduced to people you ordinarily would not have met.

  1. But don’t (just) speak to those you already know

Even though, you should attend networking events with people you know, resist the temptation to stay glued to their side throughout the event. One of the major reasons to attend professional events is to meet other people and expand your network, thus, speaking only to people you already know throughout the event defeats the purpose.

  1. Don’t be in a hurry to leave

If you are attending a seminar or business training, know that the events of the day have not ended when the training session is over. In fact, in most cases, the activities that take place after the formal session would be more beneficial to you as a young professional than the training session itself.

So, except, you absolutely have to, don’t be in a hurry to leave. Stick around and interact with other delegates using the tips in this article.

  1. Ask questions

If the event is a seminar or other event where topical issues are discussed, contribute to the discussion by asking questions and/or sharing your opinion. This makes you more visible and could also serve as a conversation starter for persons who approach you or those you approach afterwards.

  1. Don’t stay glued to the food table

Networking events often mean food; free food. However, staying glued to the food table makes you appear uncultured and will also cause you to miss out on the ample opportunities that networking events offer. If it helps, ensure that you do not attend a networking event, particularly the more high-end ones on an empty stomach.

In the same vein, keep your alcohol consumption to a manageable level, no matter how much the hosts encourage you to drink. It would be unfortunate to attend a networking event hoping to impress, only to embarrass yourself in front of your colleagues. First impressions certainly count and you want to be remembered, but for the right reasons.

  1. Appear approachable

Smile and greet people if your eye catches theirs. A lot of people are equally hesitant about approaching strangers in a professional gathering, but if you appear amiable, they are more likely to gravitate towards you.

  1. Join group discussions

Again, there is safety in numbers. If you are normally a shy person, you can ease yourself into speaking with strangers at an event by joining group conversations. However, note the body language of the group that you are approaching so that you do not awkwardly walk in on a private conversation.

Where you are attending the event with a colleague or friend, it would normally be okay to walk in on a group discussion that they are a part of.

  1. Prepare an “elevator pitch”

In a professional event, you can certainly expect the question “so what do you do” many times, so prepare a 15-second response to that question.

Any shorter and you might appear uninterested or uninteresting, and any longer and you make it come across as if you are giving an actual elevator pitch as opposed to simply making a new friend/connection.

Your responses should also be engaging enough to create a natural flow to the conversation – consider using stories.

  1. But don’t make it all about you

Professional events are full of people who are simply waiting for the opportunity to tell others what they do and shove business cards into their hands.

You can stand out by being different – do not think of these events merely as marketing opportunities. Take the occasion to genuinely get to know people. Ask people about their work as well, repeat what they have said back to them, remember their names. People are more likely to remember you when you make them feel important.

  1. Don’t just look for the bigwigs

Another common mistake people make at networking events is thinking that the outing has been successful only when they have given an MD, Chairman or CEO their business card.

Most of the time, it is just as worthwhile to interact with those who are yet to get to the top echelon of their organizations. For lawyers, this would be the Associates, Senior Associates and business support staff. These people are first, more likely to be available for an in-depth conversation. Second, it’s easier to speak and relate with them; they understand where you’re coming from and could put in a recommendation with their boss if you play your cards right. Executives are more likely to grant opportunities to someone who comes recommended from their staff, than to a total stranger.

  1. Volunteer

Volunteering to assist with the planning and execution of professional events gives you a backstage pass to access to the participants and the speakers. It is a very good way to meet these people in an environment where they do not feel that you are simply out to get something.

When volunteering, treat the role like you would treat a paid job – carry out your tasks professionally, and go over and beyond.

 

Yimika Adesola is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Legally Engaged. She is a corporate lawyer with a diploma in Human Resource Management, described by This Day Newspaper as “a young and clever lawyer who has been blessed with foresight”.

In her professional legal career, Yimika has advised an assortment of sophisticated Nigerian and international clients on various areas of law including mergers, acquisitions and capital raisings, restructurings, taxation, finance, employment, compliance, etc.

She provides direction to thousands of students and young professionals by providing them with the information they need to launch successful careers and make better career decisions. Follow Yimika on LinkedIn here.

 

legallyengagedAn Introvert’s Guide to Networking at Professional Events
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Dealing with Workplace Boredom/Dissatisfaction as a Lawyer

Do you feel bored at work? Lethargic? Do you feel like you’re going round in circles in your career? Do you dread Monday mornings because you dislike your job?

If the answer to any of these questions is “yes”, it is possible that you are in a career rut.

There are a lot of reasons a lawyer may be in a career rut. Firstly, work in the legal services industry tends to become repetitive and predictable, mostly due to the fact that Law practice requires adherence to precedents. Lawyers that are familiar with the legal TV drama ‘Suits’ will agree that it is not always as fun as Harvey Specter and Mike Ross make it seem. Doing the same things over and over again tends to take out the enthusiasm and make work mechanical, and this could affect work productivity.

For some lawyers and other professionals, past failures contribute to the feeling. When set career goals are not realized as expected, it could lead to a loss of enthusiasm and zeal for work. The person could gradually slip into a state of apathy. For other lawyers, it is poor working conditions and not feeling valued at work.

Whatever the reasons are, the aim of this article is to suggest practical solutions to make your career more interesting and exciting.

1.      Learn Something New

As stated earlier, repetition can cause boredom, so step out of your comfort zone and take out the time to learn something new, not necessarily in the area of law. Photography, video editing, website and graphics designing are a few creative areas to keep you from being bored and equip you with new skills.

2.      Participate in Essay competitions

There are a lot of essay competitions on a wide range of topics, both legal and non-legal. The goal of participation may not be to win but to do something different, explore and conduct research in other fields. An example of a multi-disciplinary essay competition is the annual Peter Drucker essay competition.

3.      Apply for short courses/conferences/fellowships with travel opportunities

Apart from being a good way to build your network, attending local and international conferences, short courses and fellowships might be exactly what you need to rekindle your enthusiasm for the profession. Most of these courses, conferences and fellowships are fully or partly funded and provide opportunities to travel to other countries. A temporary change of environment might just be what you need to reboot. Examples are The Mandela Washington fellowship, the YALI Regional cohort and the British Council Future Leaders Connect.

4.      Volunteer

Volunteering has innumerable benefits. It is an opportunity to give back to the community, have fun, take up a new challenge, network and reduce stress. You can volunteer to contribute on a blog or to create awareness on various causes such as drug abuse and domestic/sexual violence. Some international non-profit organizations such as the United Nations create opportunities for volunteers to work remotely from all over the world.

5.      Take an online course

With the help of technology, learning in the 21st century transcends distance, locations and on-site classrooms. It is amazing how one can go from novice to expert on a subject using electronic devices. There are a lot of MOOCs available on a wide range of subjects from websites such as e.g. Coursera, Udemy, Alison etc. A course in Human resources, Project Finance and Management, Leadership and Strategic management etc., will enhance your career and personal development. For courses on Intellectual property, the World Intellectual Property organization eLearning center and the Centre for International Governance Innovation are good places to start. There is also a course on Natural Resources which is a joint collaboration of the Natural Resource Governance Institute, The Columbia Center and The World Bank

6.      Get another educational qualification

Being in a career rut may be a sign that you need to get a further educational qualification e.g. a Law/non-Law Master’s degree. In some cases, transitioning into a specialized area of law practice might require a further degree. Decide if a further degree is what you need and in which area, then go for it. You may need to apply for scholarships if you intend to get a degree outside the country.

7.      Get Mentorship

It is common for professionals, not just lawyers, to go through times when they feel clueless on the next career step to take. Mentorship by other lawyers and professionals, especially those succeeding in your field of interest, could go a long way to motivate and give the much-needed direction.

Related: the Legally Engaged Mentorship Programme

8.      Learn a new Language

Being bilingual is a valuable asset especially for lawyers that desire to work in international or multinational organizations. While learning a new language gives you something new to do, it also opens you up to new career prospects and opportunities. It is wise to prepare and equip yourself even before such opportunities present themselves.


Joyce Edolor is a lawyer called to the Nigerian Bar in 2012 and she’s also a member of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators of Nigeria (ICSAN).

She currently works as the Head of Legal Services, Human Resources and Administration in a group of companies. 

Joyce won the star prize of the Nigerian Bar association Young Lawyers Forum Essay competition in 2018. 

legallyengagedDealing with Workplace Boredom/Dissatisfaction as a Lawyer
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Bad Grades Do Not Define You – We Interview Fanan Biem

Editor’s Note – Fanan, a graduate of Benue State University, graduated from the Nigerian Law School with a Pass and felt a crushing wave of disappointment and hopelessness. In this article, he talks to Legally Engaged about how he went from being walked out of an NYSC recruitment test because of his grades, to becoming a Monitoring and Evaluation Support Officer at the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva, Switzerland.

What was your Law School grade?

Pass

Based on your perceived performance at the law exams, were you surprised at your grade?

This grade was quite shocking because from my perspective I had put in my very best effort into the exams and the preparation leading up to the exams. I could identify some areas that I could have probably performed better, but overall, I didn’t expect that specific grade.

How did you feel and what was your initial reaction to your result?

My first reaction was disbelief and then an overwhelming sense of disappointment. The law school environment reinforces the top tier law firm ideal, so even if you might have a broader sense of career possibilities before going in, once you get in there, the idea that getting into a top tier law firm is the ultimate, gets stuck in your psyche.

Realizing that this was not going to happen for me was indeed a painful reality at the time. But after a while, this feeling of disappointment gave way to strategizing, I actively searched for opportunities that might look beyond that particular grade and consider holistically, the things I had already done and could offer.

Were there setbacks in the early days of your career that flowed directly from the grade you graduated with? What was the most painful of these experiences and how did they (the various experiences) affect you negatively or positively?

My first setback was during the NYSC posting. I had been posted to a law firm in Abuja and a written test was scheduled for all the lawyers posted to the firm. I wasn’t allowed to sit the test, I was asked to leave. The feedback was that the firm’s policy did not permit taking on lawyers with my grade. I was very sad and bitter at the time, but in hindsight, this was the most significant course redirection of my career.

I had previously spent a gap year after my LLB studying French in Benin and Togo and this was already a very useful skill I had under my belt. I was intrigued by the signage of an NGO that had an office on the street where I lived as it was in French. I looked them up and found out it was a French international NGO operating in Nigeria in the field of pro-bono humanitarian legal assistance, I walked in and dropped my CV and was subsequently called in for an interview and offered to start. They had actually been looking for an intern but had not gotten sufficient responses to their ads. It was my first professional experience, was very fulfilling and has opened up so many doors. I am always thankful that I took that proactive step.

What are you doing now?

I currently work as a Monitoring and Evaluation Support Officer at the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva Switzerland. I support the monitoring, synthesizing and communication of results from 67 projects supported by the WTO’s programme for trade capacity building in less developed countries.  This builds on my previous experience working on project evaluation in two other international organizations in Geneva. The entry point into the system was getting an internship at the WTO after my LLM in International Economic Law, which was focused on international trade law and development.

What were the specific steps you took to set your career on the right course and when did you decide to begin taking these steps?

The first decision I made was to be proactive and not get beat down. Some rejections obviously hurt, but they hurt more if you choose to remain down and not get back up. I had taken this approach on impulse but in hindsight, I can see how most rejections could be interpreted as steering mechanisms to enable us to reflect on other alternatives that might be equally viable.

During the early days of my NYSC, I had already started looking at options for an LLM because I realized that to be even more competitive I might need another qualification, especially in a niche area. So I eventually chose international trade law and development, I chose to do the programme in a University that gave me the opportunity to do interesting fieldwork in rural Mozambique for my dissertation. I worked with rural producers in Mozambique for 3 months to uncover their challenges for export and researched on opportunities within the policy and legal framework at the WTO to address these challenges.

When I eventually applied for an internship at the WTO after my LLM, my profile was at the top of the pile. I was fortunate to be able to self-fund LLM in the UK, but I can recall the university had scholarship options for even students with Second Class Lower degrees. You also do not necessarily have to go abroad, if you do not have the means; there are brilliant LLM opportunities in Nigeria as well. I have a good lawyer friend who is about completing a Masters focused on Cyber Security in Nigeria and he’s doing really great things. I am already very excited about his future.

Which of those steps would you say specifically impacted the course of your career?

It has been a culmination of steps that have led up to each other in progression. But I would say working at the pro-bono humanitarian NGO was significant. It led to the realization of a possibility of development-oriented work in the international space, which was outside the top tier law firm ideal that I had internalized in law school.

My boss at the time was also a lawyer and she was and has continued to be an inspiration me.

My LLM and fieldwork in Mozambique which was directly related to the work of the WTO also led to my entry into the ‘international Geneva’ space. I have actively worked to improve my competitiveness; throughout the course of my NYSC, I took advanced French classes at the French Institute in Abuja, which took a huge chunk of my NYSC allowance but was totally worth it. I eventually sat the international French language exams (DELF B2) emerging as the best candidate at the time. I now work in French and English.

I also went on to graduate at the top of my LLM class. I have in addition done certificate courses in Project Management and Monitoring and Evaluation. Beyond all that, I am an avid reader and insatiably curious.

How long (roughly) did it take to overcome the “stigma” of your results – do you still get asked about them?

Beyond the rejections at the NYSC stage, I realized that my law school grades did not count in my profile evaluations and that this was a primary consideration mostly for law firms alone. I have in the majority applied to international organizations since completing my LLM and they technically do not ask for information on grades but look at the candidate profiles holistically.

In retrospect, do you think your career would have been better or worse if you had made better grades?

If I had made “better” grades at the Law School, I think my career would have been worse. Considering what I am doing now and how fulfilled I am at the moment, I would be unfulfilled in a law firm, top tier or otherwise. I say this from a completely personal and subjective perspective and with no ill-feeling to lawyers who work in law firms, are doing great work and find that sort of work to be a fulfilling path for them. It’s all very subjective, I must say.

How would you advise young law graduates with low grades, considering the socio-economic status of various persons?

Reiterating my earlier points, it is crucial to look beyond the inevitable disappointment, be proactive and think outside the box, beyond the ideals that might have been internalized through the course of law school.

There are also some foreign LLM opportunities for students with Second Class Lower degrees and also some great opportunities in some Nigerian universities. Other opportunities for professional development should also be explored.

In the event that the law firm path is the most personally fulfilling, I have equally heard of some encouraging news about great law firms in Nigeria that are beginning to look beyond grades in the initial selection process.

How would you advise law students particularly those currently struggling with low grades?

You no doubt have to work as hard as you can to graduate with the best grade you can get. But, in the event that this is not the case, you can still go on to create a meaningful and fulfilling career. Your grades alone do not define you, they only make it harder to get your foot in the door, but once you get in and work hard, the sky is the limit.

Some persons are advocating for policy change in legal education – that different classes of grades should be scrapped. Do you think this is necessary and beneficial?

This would be a very welcome development. However, I think the most beneficial would be the elimination of the policy of grading students on their lowest grade (if this is true), in place of grading on the basis of the average of grades obtained across all the law school subjects.

legallyengagedBad Grades Do Not Define You – We Interview Fanan Biem
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How To Improve Your Communication Skills: Part 1 – Writing

Communication skills are vital and indispensable tools for lawyers.

Reading, listening to understand a client’s issues/need, writing briefs of argument, letters and various legal documents, addressing the court, and speaking with clients are all intrinsic parts of a lawyer’s daily life and work. At all times, a lawyer should be able to convey information clearly, concisely and accurately through the four basic communication skills i.e. Writing, Speaking, Reading, and Listening/Comprehension.

For some people, expressing thoughts with precision on paper may be a bit difficult, which may be the reason many are better speakers than writers, so this article will focus on improving writing skills as a lawyer. Every good and well-rounded lawyer should not just be able to speak, but also articulately express his/her thoughts in writing.

It is safe to say that more than fifty per cent of a lawyer’s work is done in writing. Generally, society views lawyers as good writers. Personally, I have had multiple experiences where I have been approached to help write different types of documents because of the belief that every lawyer writes well, irrespective of what the subject matter is. For a law student, a legal intern, a law graduate or a lawyer with years of legal practice,  good writing skill is essential for writing legal opinions, briefs of argument, letters, contracts, minutes of meetings, Wills, essays, research papers etc.

Here are some practical tips to improve your writing skills.

  1. Know the audience/purpose of your writing

The recipients and purpose of your writing are major determinants of your writing language. What relationship exists between you and the reader? Is there a common ground of knowledge? For instance, it will be absurd to use legal jargon to write to a non-legal audience. Effective communication requires compatibility in language and a common frame of reference between the sender and the receiver (they should interact at a common level of understanding). It’s important to consider whether the readers will easily understand the words, terms or writing language that you use and if it may be necessary to simplify or write in layman terms. The purpose of communication is definitely defeated if your audience does not understand what you intend to convey.

  1. Expand your vocabulary

Have you ever been in a situation where you know what you’re trying to explain, but not the exact word for it? Expanding your vocabulary is like saving up words in your word bank for future use. This is not just important for writing, but for speaking as well. You can expand your vocabulary by –

  • Reading, Reading, and Reading some more: Do not just read law related books, step outside your comfort zone and read works from other fields.
  • Using the thesaurus often: A thesaurus is a valuable tool for enhancing writing skills. You can use a thesaurus to update your knowledge of antonyms and synonyms and eliminate unnecessary adverbs in your writing.
  • Learning and using at least a new word every day
  • Playing word games e.g. crossword puzzles
  1. Ditch the legalese and Latin words:

According to John Grisham, a bestselling author, “There are three types of words – words we know, words we should know; and words nobody knows.  Forget those in the third category and use restraint with those in the second.”

There’s a difference between having a rich vocabulary and using ‘big’ words in your writing just to show off. I’m aware that as lawyers, we are expected to sound ‘lawyerly’, and some clients are somewhat impressed by our use of “Big English” like the “whereofs” and the “hereinafters”. However, it’s 2018, and the use of such words have since become obsolete. A combination of simplicity and precision is the key to good writing.

  1. Take the time to proof-read

Your first draft should not be your final draft. It’s important not to procrastinate on your writing tasks, so you will have enough time to go over what you’ve written. If possible, enlist the help of one or two other persons to help you proof-read. A different pair of eyes will spot mistakes that you, the writer might not easily see.

  1. Take a writing class

Like I always say, learning in the 21st century now transcends classrooms and you can self-educate on a range of subjects simply using your phone or other devices. There are lots of writing courses on the internet that you can take to improve your writing skills e.g. The University of Maryland Writing Center has video tutorials on writing that are quite useful.

  1. Practise, Practise, Practise

There’s no better way to learn than to actually do what you’re trying to learn. Write as much as you can, contribute on a blog, write articles and on topics other than law, take up more complex writing tasks at work and get feedback. With time, your writing skills will improve.


Joyce Edolor is a lawyer called to the Nigerian Bar in 2012 and she’s also a member of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators of Nigeria (ICSAN). She currently works as the Head of Legal Services, Human Resources and Administration in a group of companies. 

Joyce won the star prize of the Nigerian Bar Association Young Lawyers Forum Essay competition in 2018. 

legallyengagedHow To Improve Your Communication Skills: Part 1 – Writing
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