Legal icon, Folake Solanke, wants two-year paid internship for fresh lawyers
Folake Solanke, Nigeria’s first female senior advocate, wants fresh out of law school lawyers to go through a mandatory two-year paid apprenticeship before they “dive into practice.”
Going through this two-year traineeship, according to the 85-year-old senior counsel, will significantly reduce cases of misconduct and use of unprofessional language among lawyers.
Mrs Solanke expressed this view during her address at the 12th Annual Lecture of AELEX law firm, in Lagos.
“Many young lawyers do not know how to address the court neither do they take the patience to be properly tutored by their principals in chamber hence the need for a compulsory two-year apprenticeship programme to entrench learning for new wigs,” said Solanke.
“I am of the opinion that it should be a paid programme so that the new wig does not feel cheated.”
She emphasised that the years spent in university and law school where all theory-based and no wet behind the ears lawyer should be thrown into the deep end without first learning the practice of law.
“There is an increase in misconduct and the use of unprofessional language among lawyers,” she continued. “Every good lawyer will admit that the reading culture must be cultivated for life by lawyers; both young and old; it is a lifelong addiction.”
This year’s AELEX lecture had the theme “Schooling without Learning,” and Mrs Solanke commended the organisers for choosing such an apt title, especially in an era of fallen educational standards.
Professor Oyewusi Ibidapo-Obe, who also delivered a paper at the event, noted that schooling is not sufficient for learning.
“The Nigerian government should do more for the educational sector as our public schools are endangered,” said the former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos.
“The quality of education had fallen and had thus affected leadership and expertise in different spheres of our national life,” added Ibidapo-Obe, who also called on the government to do away with the quota systems in the country’s education system.
On her part, Funke Adekoya, the fifth woman to be elevated to the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria, suggested that government should offer scholarships to at least 10 per cent of the best graduating students from both state and federal institutions and recycle them as teachers with an attractive salary. This way, according to the AELEX partner, who began her law career at the Obafemi Awolowo University, will ensure high standards are maintained.
“The reason AELEX did not focus on legal education is that they realised that if the foundations of primary and secondary school education were weak, legal education at the university and law school levels would not only be weak, but law students would have had faulty learning foundations, which would affect them throughout their career as lawyers. Thus if the educational system is not strengthened, where learning is important, we cannot have good lawyers,” she added.
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