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‘Remunerations of lawyers in law firms are embarrassing’




HE had loved to be a lawyer and grew up dreaming to be one. Armed with this clear-cut dream, Chuka Ezenne, knew he needed to take the right steps in order to get to his goals.

He lived his dreams and kept focus, refusing to be distracted along the line. By combination of sheer hardwork, determination and resilience, he studied and qualified as a lawyer, thereby fulfilling that which his soul yearned for.

“I grew up desiring to be a lawyer. I am now living my childhood dream. I love being a lawyer and it is an honour to be one. I am the first lawyer in my family. The first day I went to court, I was happy but somehow afraid. I did not want to make any mistakes, as I was in awe of the judge and my senior colleagues. It was a day of mixed feelings. I guess it is pretty much the same with many other lawyers. With time, we got accustomed to it.

“The legal profession is a noble one. I love everything about it. It connotes integrity, defense for the weak, honesty, brilliance and jack of all trade and master of all. A lawyer must know bits of everything. As long as it has to do with two individuals or more meeting, interacting business-wise or profession-wise, even marriage, whatever you do in life must have a set of rules”, Ezenne said. He stated that his role models are many but there are few he admire most. “I like the business acumen of Olisa Agbakoba (SAN) and the forthrightness of the late Gani Fawehinmi. He used the instrumentality of law as a weapon to ask questions and right the wrongs in the society. He did his best,” he declared.

Today, Ezenne runs a property firm known as Green Pastures Inter-biz Nigeria Limited. He is also the principal counsel of Ezenne & Associates in Lagos. Ezenne is a strong believer of justice and to him, the law must be obeyed in order to have an orderly society. Ezenne is the second child in a family of seven (seven boys). His father was a pastor while mother was a housewife, as well as women leader in the church. He hails from Ichida in Anambra State.

Reminiscing his childhood, Ezenne said that it was a wonderful experience. “The memory that readily comes to mind whenever I remember my childhood is about I and my brothers preaching. You may not believe it but I began to preach very early in life. We used our pencils or sticks as microphones and preached at the top of our voices. Due to the nature of my father’s vocation, we never stayed in a place for long. As a missionary, he was transferred from place to place. So, I attended different schools.”

He continued: “I started my primary education in Imo State at Western Nnempi Primary School. From there, to Ayangba in Benue State where I continued my primary education and completed it at Gboko in the same state. I had my secondary school education at Kings Comprehensive College, Mkar and completed it at Government Secondary School, Mubi in Adammawa State. I proceeded to University of Maiduguri where I graduated in Law. I was called to Bar in 2000 and served with Central Bank of Nigeria in Lagos. In 2002, I began to work at Njere & Co. I left in January 2004 and then became an associate at Vincent Orizu & Associates in Lagos for a year before establishing my law firm in August 2004.

He said he would attain fulfillment when everyone, begins to see court judgment as sacrosanct; when the government and her agencies begin to obey the law and protect the law. “The major setbacks to the legal profession are numerous. When the law is not given its place in the society, it leaves a lacuna. The law has become a horse and politicians all try to force it towards the direction they want. They don’t obey court judgments when it does not favour them. Court judgments must be obeyed for the law to have a force and become a force.

“Secondly, in the practice of the law itself playing pranks and delaying the process of proceedings is a big problem. Law is supposed to cement the society.

“Sometimes justice takes too long to get to the aggrieved parties. Some cases take many years, justice delayed of course is justice denied. Most times we lawyers are the cause. The issue of the quality of lawyers being churned out by the universities are quite unsatisfactory. Their welfare and remuneration when they get employed into some law chambers are embarrassing. Another is the issue of continuing education. I believe that with time, we shall surmount these problems,” he stated.

Proffering solutions to the myriads of problems, he said that the issue of delay in justice system could be solved by overhauling court procedures. “Make it very expensive for anyone trying to delay the court’s time by obtaining frivolous injunctions and needless adjournments. Re-orientation of the political class is very essential. If you don’t respect the law, then I wonder where you draw your legitimacy from.”

According to the legal practitioner, who is into real estate business, he believes he has a passion for real estate, because: “It secures your today and your tomorrow. Funny thing is that almost all lawyers are into it but involvement varies from one lawyer to another. I have a passion for real estate hence I am involved. The initial challenge is ability to build a clientele base. Second is the ability for clients who are used to dealing with street agents or quacks to know that it is better to contact a lawyer to handle their transactions. Of course, you must pay the lawyer very well but then, you can go to sleep because a professional is handling it. Thirdly, is building your name, which should be based on integrity, honesty and professionalism. Once you establish these, you are home and dry.

Ezenne said combining law and Real Estate is no problem. He said: “Real Estate is part of law (property law). I love law because it touches every facet. So, there is no conflict. I am a lawyer and also a director in a firm that is practising real estate. There is no clash at all. I am inspired by God, I am inspired by my parents. I am inspired by fear of poverty. I am inspired by the poverty that pervades in the society and the belief that I can do my part to help and assist.

“I have many high points. When justice is obtained for the downtrodden, it signifies a high point. When a person who hitherto never believed he would own a parcel of land buys one, it signifies a high point. The beautiful thing is that high points existed in my profession but it depends on what drives or motivates you.”

He is also ready to offer advise to those interested in combining law with business. “Honesty, forthrightness, sense of justice, integrity and above all, hard work, are the bedrock for success. Law practice does not indulge the indolent and lazy. You must be ready to work while practising law. There are businesses considered inconsistent with the law and you are not permitted to be involved. But you can be a director in a company. You can own certain concerns as long as it does not ridicule your profession.

“But the truth is that in any business you want to get involved, you must study the business first before you go in. You must understand it. You must have a passion for it and you must start from the ground up. There is no magic to success. Most importantly, you must commit your ways to God so He can direct your path,” Ezenne advised.

He loves to dress simple and to look good. “Our weather does not allow for overdressing. I am a T-shirt and jeans regular guy. Tie and suit can only appear when appropriate. I love the blue colour because it is masculine and cool.” He added that he would like to go into politics to serve. “We need quality service. Politics is all about quality representation and service. I will provide that when the time comes.”

Expressing views about the present government, he said: “My expectations for this new government are huge. Truth be told, globally countries are currently facing economic crisis. It is not a Nigerian problem. Secondly, it is not cheap to execute a war as the war against Boko Haram is taking its toll. This government is a government of necessity, they made so many campaign promises; it is easy to be in the opposition and criticise. Now that they are in leadership, I expect them to provide quality and effective leadership, which will eventually transmute to quality service. I expect corruption to be reduced to the barest minimum. I wish the President and his party men the very best.”

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1 Comment
  • John650

    Law in Nigeria can only be respected when our institutions are strengthened. As it stands at the moment, our institutions have been weakened severely by the same people who created it, the politicians.

    We all hope the Buhari government will go a long way in strengthen this institutions. Then lawyers and the practice of law would be respected and regain its rightful place.

    This would also ensure a brighter employment outlook for young lawyers and those just coming out of the university.