SAN harps on quality of legal works
He made the assertion at the 2018 conference of the Section on Legal Practice of the Nigeria Bar Association (SLP NBA) held in Port Harcourt, Rivers state capital.
The theme of the conference, “Re-thinking and Re-tooling legal practice for the challenges of our time” opened discussions to a range of topics covering disciplinary issues, problems impeding lawyers’ fee earning capabilities, among others.
Speaking on the topic, “Problems Impeding our Fee Earning Capabilities as Legal Practitioners” Usoro said: “The issue is essential because it is from the fees we are able to take care of our juniors and other overheads. It cannot be ignored or taken lightly”.
He said factors that affect earning fees to include quality of work, poor planning, record keeping, time of completion of work, charging of hourly fees, work environment and client relationship.
“The quality of your work determines what you earn and it will help to put you at the top level of your earnings. You need to aim to be at the top level of your practice and that will determine the fees you command. As lawyers, we are not very good at planning, we try to go into everything and that makes one Jack of all trades, the master of none”, he said.
The Learned Silk went ahead to share his personal experience when the GSM auction was to take place. “Argument was canvassed that no Nigerian Lawyer has ever done it before which is true. We did it and it was internationally rated as the best. The same argument was also canvassed when we were drafting the Communication Act. Since 2003 that the Law was passed, there has not been a single amendment to it because the law is adjudged to be the best,” he enthused.
Usoro emphasised that lawyers must have a safety valve when dealing with clients and companies in particular. “If you do not keep records, it will be very difficult to put a cost to your work. One of the challenges in litigation is the timing it takes to complete it. When negotiating, it is good to have a safety valve that will enable your ability to renegotiate if the time exceeds what you had expected.
He encouraged lawyers to have a befitting environment for their offices, which plays a big role in determining the type of fees they charge. “If your office appears tattered, the client is likely to price you the way you appear.