Tobenna Erojikwe Meets With Ekiti NBA Branches, Advocates for Passage of Legal Practitioners Bill to strengthen Nigerian lawyers amid Impending Practice Liberalisation

During an engaging session with members of the Ado Ekiti, Ikole Ekiti, and Ikere Ekiti branches of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), the Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association’s Institute of Continuing Legal Education (NBA-ICLE), Tobenna Erojikwe, made an impassioned plea for support and swift passage of the Legal Practitioners Bill that seeks to repeal and replace the extant Legal Practitioners Act.

Mr Erojikwe’s call comes as news emerged that Nigeria intends to liberalise its legal services market to allow lawyers from the UK to practice in the country more freely.

Mr Erojikwe stated that “the current Legal Practitioners Act governing our profession is sorely outdated and no longer serves the needs of the modern Nigerian legal system. We urgently require comprehensive reforms like those proposed in the new Legal Practitioners Bill if we hope to uplift the legal profession in Nigeria and make it globally competitive in the 21st century.”

He explained at length how the Legal Practitioners Bill if enacted into law unaltered, would strengthen and transform the profession by introducing mandatory pupilage, requiring continuing professional development for lawyers, regulating legal practice areas, and standardising fee structures through remuneration guidelines.

On the critical issue of pupilage, Mr Erojikwe emphasised that “it is highly unrealistic and detrimental to the profession to continue graduating over 6,000 law students annually without any structured training programme or pupilage post-call to bar. Mandatory high-quality pupilage is essential to providing new lawyers with the practical knowledge, skills, and experience needed to properly establish and operate their own practices.”

He noted the current system allows new lawyers to immediately set up shop without undergoing pupilage or articling, sometimes resulting in substandard service delivery. Mr. Erojikwe said, “Pupilage under the guidance of experienced principals will ensure newly called lawyers are competent and ready to provide clients excellent service, rather than learning on the job at their expense.”

Regarding continuing professional development, Mr. Erojikwe stressed that “the legal field evolves constantly, and lawyers must stay up-to-date on emerging laws, judgements, and practice areas throughout their careers. Mandatory CPD under the bill will ensure lawyers continually expand their knowledge and skills, benefiting both themselves and their clients.”

On remuneration, he stated, “Standardised fee structures mandated under the Bill will protect both legal practitioners and clients by preventing unrealistically high or low professional fees. This will curb rampant poverty within the bar and crucially make legal services affordable and accessible for the average Nigerian.”

Mr. Erojikwe concluded his impassioned address by urging the NBA members to aggressively push legislators nationwide for the swift, unaltered passage of the Legal Practitioners Bill. He called the bill “a watershed opportunity to uplift the legal profession, enhance transparency and service delivery, eradicate endemic poverty among lawyers, and ensure the profession’s continued relevance and growth in the 21st century and beyond.”

Mr Erojikwe encouraged all lawyers across Nigeria to voice their full support for the bill’s proposed reforms, emphasising that the future stability, standards, and competitiveness of the legal profession depend upon its successful enactment into law. He expressed confidence that together, the NBA can positively influence lawmakers to pass the unprecedented Legal Practitioners Bill and usher in a new era for Nigeria’s justice system and legal practitioners.