Apr 23, 2018

The Place of Pupillage and Mentorship in the Future of Legal Practice in Nigeria | Paul Usoro SAN

"The topic " The Place of Pupillage and Mentorship in the Future of Legal Practice in Nigeria" is very hot because the standard appears to be falling and most people equates pupillage  with housemanship.

Pupillage is not exactly the same as Mentorship. Pupillage simply means understudying a person in order to better your knowledge and understanding of legal practice. Mentorship on the other hand is a platform for junior lawyers  to look up  to the senior lawyers to guide them. Mentorship is not formal like pupillage. A mentor shows you the pothole to avoid and the things to know so as to have a successful practice.

Pupillage is a mandatory programme for the training  of barristers in the UK. In Nigeria we have a fused practice. Our pupillage must be able to accommodate the transaction and litigation aspect of our legal practice. Mentorship is voluntary and does not form part of the qualifying process. It has no formal arrangement like Pupillage.

The essence of both Pupillage and Mentorship is to improve the standard and quality of lawyers in legal practice.

If our Pupillage programme is going to be part of the qualifying process, then it should be regulated by the Council of Legal Education.

The firms that the young lawyers will be attached must be firms with a certain standard. Standard must be set and maintained for our firms.

The issue of minimum wage during pupillage is an issue that must be factored elaborately. I support mentorship as well as pupillage because it helps you to build a successful and sustainable practice as mine. I served here in Makurdi at the Law Firm of George Uloko & Co. I was not paid big money but the foundation of what I am today was built here in Makurdi.

The basis of our profession is seniority/respect. Our Juniors must learn how to respect the senior lawyers and should not see all of them as unworthy of emulation. The bar we should build must be an inclusive bar that has a place for the junior lawyers to grow with respect for the senior lawyers "