Be a SAN: Follow These Steps

There have been, at many times prior to now, calls to the Nigerian Bar Association from many quarters to totally abolish the title of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN). Does that startle you? Thankfully, such calls have not been given much consideration, and rightfully so. We must admit though, that many of those who were making such emotional calls may have had a few good reasons driving their outcry. If we however dispassionately consider the situation, it becomes crystal clear that the existence of that title is a testament to legal fortitude and eminence of those who attain it, a benchmark of reverence and respect from members of other professions, and a motivation to legal juniors to strive for excellence, earn renown and imprint their dexterity on the legal landscape.

The title: “SAN” is conferred on legal practitioners of not less than ten years standing who, according to the Legal Practitioner’s Act (5(2)), have “….achieved distinction in the legal profession…”. Once it is conferred upon a lawyer, it has by its very existence the capacity to catapult such lawyer from obscurity to celebrity in an instant; such lawyer commands as a matter of course astronomical figures in legal service fees, and of course get preferment in court in front of judges.  That is not all. Indeed there are numerous other intangible benefits a status of that magnitude necessarily confers on the recipient.  It therefore comes as no real surprise that the title is one which is very much sought after by lawyers of both high and low standing in Nigeria.

We should leave so much English for another time, don’t you think? I see you nodding your head (in my mind’s eye) so I will take it that you agree with me on that one.

So let’s get into the meat of the gist. What do you have to do to attain the exalted title of Senior Advocate of Nigeria? What must you do to qualify to take silk?

There are no hard and fast rules, really. No guaranteed, sweat free highway to “SANhood”, but in addition to meeting the basic criteria as set out in the Legal Practitioner’s Act, the following few steps will help you achieve your dream maybe faster.

Take advantage of every opportunity to make a lasting Impression. There are in today’s world, unlike any before it many more vehicles for making an impression. All of these tools should be deployed adequately by you to impress. Impress on Social Media, impress with Legal IT Research tools, impress on your Professional Networks, impress with Court Appearances etc. whatever you do, make an indelible impression.

Give every case your very best. Handle all your cases like it is multimillion dollar worth. Research more than others, prepare more than others, cross check more than others, rehearse more than others, render more than others and do whatever you have to do on the case more than is usual. When you do this, you create for yourself a culture of excellence and thoroughness which you may rest assured will not go unnoticed.

Do not be afraid to stand for what you believe. As far as the legal profession is concerned, there are various opinions on diverse issues. From time to time, be not afraid to voice your opinion even when it runs the risk of being at variance with prevailing popular opinion.

The truth is that there are no absolutes when it comes to interpretations given to an injunction or element of the law. Your voice may be the refreshing variant which had been awaited to set the discourse in a new direction.

By the time you have consistently done these for upwards of ten years, you would have carved out your niche in the legal sphere. Then you can expect to have your labours crowned with the deserved title of Senior Advocate of Nigeria, and you may well begin to look forward to it.

Are you already a SAN? Or are you aspiring to become one? Let’s hear your thoughts! Join in the conversation in the comments section.

lawpavilion • September 25, 2014

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