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How to save the future of advocacy in Nigeria, by Ajuyah



The declining standard of advocacy among the new entrants into the legal profession is creating a serious concern that if not properly addressed, might jeopardise the future of legal system in the country. This concern has being raised by major players in the legal profession in Nigeria.

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Charles Ajuyah has raised concern about the deteriorating standard of advocacy in the judicial system.

Ajuyah while delivering a speech on “How to be successful in Your Advocacy” at a Law Dinner of The Nigerian Bar Association said, “In the last 10 years there has been the growing concern among some senior members of the Bar including my humble self on the declining standard of advocacy among the new entrants, euphemistically referred to as “new wigs”.

The role of the judiciary cannot be overemphasized in nation building especially in a country as critical as Nigeria; hence there is cause for alarm if the crop of entrants do not meet up the required standard of advocacy.


Indeed the success recorded by successful advocates of ages past is our heritage and for the present advocates, Senior and Junior alike, the future of advocacy is our responsibility.

Ajuyah however lamented that the causes and challenges of the fallen standard are certainly outside the scope of the speech.

Despite the disparity of views on advocacy by Chief Richard Akinjide (SAN) who thinks advocates are born not made, but differently viewed by Hon. Justice Niki Tobi who believes an ‘advocate is a person who is learned in law’, Ajuyah however collated necessary requirements to being a successful advocate.

Ajuyah highlighted seven essential requirements for successful practical advocacy as clear language, ability to speak eloquently, good reading habit and mastery of the law, strong logical and analytical skills, optimal preparation for trial, ethical understanding of the court, and strategically concluding your case on justice.

He also attributed the failure of most entrants in advocacy to the neglect of the basic qualities an advocate should possess. According to him, “a good advocate must be patient in his dealings with the judge; he must be wittingly full of common sense; he should be versed in the art of flattering the judge occasionally, he must be fully prepared and well equipped, and finally should never betray his emotion”.

The fact that there is need for a major intervention of seasoned lawyers, advocates, and public defenders in defining the socio-economic and political growth of Nigeria at this critical period has heightened the fear of the declining standard of advocacy among new entrants in the country. The supposed saviours of the future if not properly groomed will wreck the ship of this country.

Rudimentary behavourial necessities in practical advocacy in the country are now being overlooked and taken lightly which has to a great deal hampered the growth of advocacy in the country, Ajuyah lamented the tradition of the Bar on dressing, appearance in court, posture in court, form of address and behaviour in Court towards the Judge and opposing counsel are fast declining. “This may be as a result of social decadence in the society,” he added.

He however concluded that it takes a lot to be an advocate and a practical one for that matter. “In the course of making your way to the top, do not be despaired by mistakes you have made. Mistakes are expected but do not make the same mistake twice. Do not be discouraged by initial low income. Advocacy entails a lot of sacrifice and time. Remain focused and be diligent in your advocacy”.

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