Apr 13, 2018

NBA - SLP Conference: Quality Work Determines Earning | Paul Usoro SAN

Good afternoon learned Silks, Seniors and colleagues, as a guest speaker at the NBA section on the Legal Practice conference live in Port Harcourt, here are a few of my thoughts which I believe will go a long way in giving an uplift to your practice.

These are practical observations using my practice as an example.  Firstly it is a good pointer that the quality of your work determines what you earn.  We as lawyers are not always good at planning, we try to go into everything and that is what makes “Jack of all trades the master of none”.

When the GSM auction was to take place, argument was canvassed that no Nigerian 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 has been passed, there has not been a single amendment to it because the law is adjudged to be the best.

When I was to prepare the telecommunications law, there were doubts whether a Nigerian lawyer can do it and the conclusion was that Nigerians cannot handle it.  Eventually, I prepared d it and when they went through it, it became the best in the world. Since 2003 that I prepared the law, it has not been challenged anywhere and it has never been amended.

The quality of your work determines the fee you will earn and by planning this helps you to be at the top level of your earnings. “Aim to be at the top level of your practice and that will determine the fees you command”.  Lawyers really 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 timing (the time it takes to complete litigation). When negotiating, it is good to have a safety valve which will enable your ability to renegotiate if the time exceeds what you had expected.

It is also good to point out that your environment also plays a big role in determining the type of fees you charge. If your office appears tattered, the client is likely to price you the way you appear.  So appearance is very key in our practice. In a scenario where a client enters your office and it looks well taken care of, it automatically determines your fees.

The issue of fees is essential because it is from the fees we are able to take care of our juniors. It cannot be ignored or taken lightly.

Your ability to create and maintain client relationship is very critical to your practice. Client service relationship also goes a long way to determine your fees. If you take home anything I have said today, understand that a relationship with your client is very important.  Make clients your friend; update them on the level of their cases and quite naturally you will have a good working relationship.