Damilola Ladokun attended Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife for his LL.B. Ladokun who hails from Oyo State was called to Bar in 2014. In this encounter with JOHN CHIKEZIE, he shares his experience into the noble profession
I am Samuel Damilola Ladokun and I am from Saki town in Saki West Local Government of Oyo State. I had my elementary education at Baptist Medical Centre Primary School, Ajegunle, Saki before proceeding to Baptist Medical Centre Secondary School, Ajegunle, Saki, where I had my O’Level certificate.
My tertiary education was at the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Osun State, where I obtained a Bachelor of Law degree. I proceeded to the Nigerian Law School in 2013 and was accordingly called to the Nigerian Bar in 2014.
The legal profession was not my initial choice, indeed I grew up as a very shy person and unassuming personality, in fact, I still am. Surprisingly, however, the legal profession appears the best choice for the expression of my innate desire to touch people’s lives in a way they cannot even imagine while also offering solutions to real problems people don’t even avert their minds to from my “quiet” corner. I am so passionate about people probably due to my meekness, all the more reason I abhor anything that affects their rights and wellbeing. The best way I feel I can make an impact and touch lives is through this profession and I have never for once regretted the decision.
My area of interest in law
Quite frankly, I do not think I have any in particular, even though law practice is so diverse. I am presently into litigations and general practice.
By general practice, basically involves a little of everything. In other words, the firm is not known and/or particularized with any particular segment of the practice.
This may appear cumbersome due to the trouble involved, but that’s where the excitement is because you are always open to research and equip yourself with the developments and trends in all aspects of the law, especially in the locality of your operation.
The law school and its humongous pressure can only be imagined than endured. It was a daunting task coping with the challenges, with the long hours of lectures and the need for you to read, prepare for every class as well as Compulsory Group Discussions and enormous workloads.
I was only kept on my toes by the strong desire to avoid failure, which is arguably man’s most feared enemy.
There is no gainsaying the fact that I had to adjust to a lot of things. For instance, I have always been a lone reader as I usually do not have time for group discussions.
The key anti-dote to the pressure at the Law School, for me, are prayers. But then, determination, resilience and hard work go a long way. But everything would have to be capped by the grace of God.
I started with Sayo Odumosu & Co. in Abuja before I went to Law School. And immediately after my National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), I joined Gladstone and Brooks before I moved to Kehinde Yekeen & Co., where I have been from 2016.
In my years at the Bar, as relatively short as it is, I have been faced with so many challenges. Even though I would not necessarily conclude that I have been able to completely deal with all of them.
One of the challenges facing young lawyers is adaptation to the legal practice itself, which is the baptism pupilage gives. You are first confronted with the challenge of coming to terms that you now deal with real life situations rather than the theoretical or fictional scenarios you deal with at the Law School.
While undergoing pupilage, a young lawyer is also faced with the challenge of the stipends accruing to him/her.
It takes a lot of determination and resilience not to give up. But if you are blessed with a boss/senior who encourages you to realise that these challenges only last for a while, you will stand tall and overcome anything life throws at you.
Finally, most clients do not believe in the ability of a young lawyer to perfectly handle their brief. Sometimes, you even sense it from the disposition of some as some would be so mean to say it to your face. This can be discouraging, but a firm belief in your ability, coupled with a supportive boss who defends your honour, would help you surmount this.
Criminal justice system
The judiciary has been trying its best within the limit of its ability in this regard. Even though there is always room for improvement. If you have ever attended courts’ proceedings to witness some of these cases, you will understand the reason behind these delays.
In my opinion and personal evaluation, the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, (ACJA) had tried to curb some of these issues usually laid at the footsteps of the judiciary in this regard.
The workload of some of the courts, intertwined with the number of cases assigned, has not really helped matters.
Even though, matters may unnecessarily be overstretched by some judges and some tactical shenanigans of some lawyers. Everything still boils down to the enormous problems of our society, which equivalently cannot be solved by the judiciary in just a day.
Indeed, things are improving in that regard. The Lagos State Judiciary has even introduced fast track procedures and measures towards clearing backlog of cases. I think this is a step in the right direction.
Weird and irregular events in the judiciary
The most common and frustrating would be appearing before a judge who has already made up his/her mind about your position. Such a judge would not even be ready to listen to anything you have to say or the point of law you might be making. Irrespective of the plethora of authorities you cite.
This is closely related to a judge descending into the arena and a judge making a decision based on his/her own unpalatable experience regarding a subject matter you support in a case. It can be frustrating as annoying.
This is actually a hard nut to crack. My heroes and people I look up to in this profession are way too many from the Ciceros to the Abraham Lincoln to the irrepressible Lord Dennings of this world.
In Nigeria, who would not admire late FRA Williams, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, Chief Bola Ige, a very revered Chief Afe Babalola and numerous others too many to mentioned.
I would not forget in a hurry the contribution of those I hold so dear, like late Chief Gani Fawehinmi. The late Chief would always occupy a special place for his activism and fearlessness. Time and time again, Chief Fawehinmi displayed the quality of his character and I would always respect and admire him largely for that.
What I envision for myself
Call me selfish but I want to end up as a Professor and Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
Truth be told, we all want to attain the peak of our chosen fields. And to me, this is the peak and the ultimate goal. Personally, I do not love to go to the Bench, I would prefer being on the other side of the Bar always.
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