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‘Pupilage gave me edge in law practice’



‘Pupilage gave me edge in law practice’

He was called to the Bar in 2011. Oloruntoba Obadofin, an alumnus of the Kogi State University, shares his experience in the legal profession with AKEEM NAFIU




Oloruntoba Obadofin is an associate partner at Niyi Olopade & Co., a law firm at Alausa, Ikeja. He was called to the Bar on October 5, 2011. Obadofin had his secondary education at the Kwara State College of Education Model Secondary School, Ilorin and his LL.B at the Kogi State University, where he graduated in 2008.
I am Oloruntoba Obadofin. I had my Primary Education at Start Right Nursery and Primary School, Taiwo-Oke, Ilorin, Kwara State. From there, I proceeded to Kwara State College of Education Model Secondary School, Ilorin in 1997 and had my University Education in Kogi State University. I was called to the Nigerian Bar on October 5, 2011.

Well, right from the 2nd term of my SS1 days in secondary school, I always wanted to be a lawyer. I had spent the 1st term in science class and I discovered that the core science subjects–Physics and Chemistry were just not for me. So, I moved to the Arts Class and started nursing the ambition to become a lawyer. I always had this impression from way back that I was meant to be a lawyer”.

First day in court
My very first day in court was cool and collected even though I was a little confused as I didn’t really know what the matter was all about because my then boss just gave me an instruction to get a trial date for the matter. I did as I was instructed after I announced my appearance but the judge asked me a few questions to which I could not provide answers. I then became jittery and lost my composure. Her Lordship stood down the matter and asked me to study the file well and address her later on those questions she asked. When the matter was called up later, I’d gleaned some facts from the file and I managed to keep my composure while I addressed the court and got over with the business of the day in court.

Moments of embarrassment
My Most embarrassing moment was when I went to court sometimes in my first year of practice. I had to go and appear in court for a case that had a large file with several processes and letters that had been exchanged by parties and their solicitors and because I was not properly guided by my then boss, I had to figure things out myself and then I saw a letter in which my client admitted to owing the opponent a sum different from what the opponent was alleging in the matter. Based on that letter and due to my naivety, I admitted in open court that my client was owing the sum of N180,000.00 during Case Management Conference (It was called Pre-trial Conference then).
When I got back to the office and informed my then boss, he lambasted me and said I was totally incompetent. The other lawyer filed an application for judgment in the sum of N180,000.00 based on my admission in open court. However, at the next date, my boss went to court to withdraw the admission I made and informed the court and the other counsel that I made a mistake. A few days later I saw the other counsel who informed me that the judge berated my boss for making me handle the case without properly guiding me on the intricacies of the matter.

Fond memories
Oh, I have a handful of fond memories. One event I’d never forget is when I was briefed to recover money for a client. I was envisaging that the matter would go through a long hurdle of litigation. However, all I did was to write a letter after which I followed with a visit and the money was paid to the client. Based on the agreement I had with the client, my professional fees was considerably large, you know when you are paid an amount that is three times more than your salary.

Well, my pupillage has been challenging, interesting and rewarding. I have worked with a couple of firms and I have learnt a lot. I remember a particular firm in which I worked for 2 years, the Carrington Law Firm, where I got the most training in the practice of law, the business of legal practice and I was set on the path to becoming a sound, vibrant and industrious lawyer. I have also built good lasting relationships with senior colleagues in the course of my pupillage.

My judiciary dream
I envision a judiciary that is totally efficient, impartial and incorruptible. One in which there would be speedy dispensation of justice. You know, where you file a case in the High Court and it does not exceed 6 months before the case is finally determined. Also, a system in which the matters before the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court would be determined in much shorter time as opposed to what obtains in reality where the matters drag on for years. There may be a need for more judges for this, especially at the High Court level because I know that High Court Judges (in Lagos) have so many cases in their dockets.
The judiciary should be more effective and efficient in administrative matters.

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