To become any type of lawyer in Nigeria, you must first get a Bachelor of Law (LLB) degree of 5 years in any Nigerian university offering law, then proceed to completing the 1-year compulsory bar advocacy training program at the Nigerian Law School and receiving a qualifying certificate. After that, they can choose to focus on any of the several areas of law practice, including family law, immigration law, corporate law, property law, and conflict resolution in any recognised law firm in the country. This post offers more information on the different types of Nigerian lawyers and what their roles are if you want to start a career as a lawyer in Nigeria.
FUNCTIONS OF NIGERIAN LAWYERS
Contrary to what they may believe, lawyers everywhere, including those in Nigeria, are required to uphold a strict code of ethics and professional conduct when performing their duties. The Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC) which was established in 2007, apply to Nigerian lawyers too. It mostly addresses topics like their legal duty to the profession, to their clients, to the courts and to other lawyers.
Here are a few important duties of Nigerian lawyers to their clients:
- Nigerian lawyers have a duty to serve their clients with all of their attention, knowledge, and resources while acting in the client’s best interest. Therefore, if you, the customer, hire a Nigerian lawyer who receives the brief but does nothing with it for a considerable amount of time, the lawyer has violated their professional obligation to you.
- Nigerian lawyers are required to advise their clients on the status of any case progress or matter they are working on in their behalf and to consult them in situations when it is not in the lawyer’s best interest. Therefore, if you hire a Nigerian lawyer to represent you in court, the judge rules on the case, and days later the lawyer has not notified you of this (without a good explanation), they are in violation of the RPC.
- Nigerian lawyers are required to swiftly advise their clients when they believe their claim or defense is futile. This basically implies that if your attorney understands your case has no chance of success, he should let you know so you can find a different course of action. For example, if a business partner breaks a contract and you wish to sue for damages, your attorney shouldn’t let you forward with the lawsuit if they are fully aware that you have no legal grounds to do so and that it will definitely end in failure. The RPC would be broken in this situation.
- Nigerian attorneys must appear in court in person or through an appropriate representative. Therefore, if your case is scheduled to be heard on a specific date and your attorney fails to appear in court or make other arrangements to represent you, he or she is in violation of the RPC and has failed to uphold their responsibility to you as a client.
- Unless the client disagrees, lawyers are not allowed to handle legal cases that they know or should know they are not qualified to undertake without teaming up with another lawyer who is. For instance, a lawyer who accepts a client’s request for advice on an Independent Public Offering (IPO) but has never handled one before and hasn’t received specialized training on the procedures and potential problems has breached the RPC’s duty of care to the client.
TYPES OF NIGERIAN LAWYERS AND THEIR ROLES
Here is a list of all types of lawyers in the country and the roles they perform:
CRIMINAL DEFENCE LAWYER
This type of attorneys can be retained by people or businesses who are being investigated for criminal activities to protect their rights within the Nigerian legal system. Criminal defense attorneys have the option of working as public defenders or opening their own firms to exploit the law to the benefit of their accused clients. As a result, criminal defense attorneys may defend people charged with kidnapping, arson, armed robbery, manslaughter, or other crimes.
The salary of a criminal defense lawyer in Nigeria, ranges from ₦100,000 to ₦500,000 depending on the case type, years of experience or even the legal firm to which the attorney belongs to
The role of a property lawyer in Nigeria is to ensure the legality of every property transaction and the protection of the interests of both the buyer and the seller of the property. Property attorneys perform title searches for their clients’ properties at the Lands Registry on their behalf. This investigation would reveal any encumbrances that might have an impact on the buyer’s ownership interest. A deed of assignment and a contract of sale are two examples of the necessary paperwork that property lawyers in Nigeria create for real estate transactions. These attorneys also ensure that the Land Use Act is properly followed by verifying all pertinent consents pertaining to a real estate transaction and perfecting recently acquired land.
Property lawyers salary is about ₦50,000 to ₦250,000 depending on the length of the court case. Also experience is another factor to consider when you want to know how much a Nigerian property lawyer earns as monthly salary for his services.
The tax laws in Nigeria are of interest to tax lawyers. They offer support and representation to both people and businesses in a variety of tax-related matters. Tax attorneys in Nigeria also counsel foreign residents on tax laws and represent clients in tax court and arbitration proceedings. Nigerian tax lawyers also frequently provide their clients with guidance in regards to matters like personal income tax (PIT), corporate income tax (CIT), profit tax and even petroleum tax.
It is not common for tax lawyers in Nigeria to earn as their colleagues in the legal profession. Although, a tax attorney salary can either be ₦100,000 on average or even more depending on the weight of the case or the law firm to which he or she is employed to.
Divorce lawyers in Nigeria are crucial in supporting their clients during the divorce proceedings. A client’s divorce proceedings will be handled quickly and expertly if they hire a Nigerian divorce attorney. They help their clients file the required documents with the court, appear in court to support their client’s motion, and handle any other divorce-related tasks. See more on how to file for a divorce in Nigeria.
Due to the length of divorce proceedings, divorce lawyers in Nigeria can charge over ₦200,000 or more for their services. Cases where couples settle out of court, these types of lawyers can charge ₦100,000 as their salary.
Immigration lawyers are experts in the practice of immigration law. They assist foreign workers applying for visas and work permits from the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), such as the Temporary Work Permit (TWP) and the Combined Expatriate Residence Permit and Aliens Card (CERPAC). Nigerian immigration attorneys also assist clients who want to appeal denials of visas to other nations.
DISPUTE RESOLUTION LAWYER
Lawyers for dispute resolution assist their clients in resolving conflicts and minimizing risks. Cases involving neighbours, professionals, property, breaches of contract and agreements, problems with landlords and tenants like eviction of tenants, and commercial disputes are among the frequent ones that dispute resolution deals with. Among other things, they produce court documents, compose witness statements, and assess the claims made by their clients before advising them on the next course of action. Furthermore, during mediation and/or settlement meetings, these dispute resolution lawyers counsel their clients on legal matters.
Business organizations can benefit from transactional lawyers in a variety of ways. They typically focus on offering legal advice to customers regarding business transactions, contracts, and agreements. In Nigeria, transactional lawyers have a variety of responsibilities, such as carrying out due diligence on behalf of their clients, creating policies, examining contract agreements, and giving legal counsel on employment and transactional issues.
Nigerian labour and employment law is a specialty area for employment lawyers. In employment-related conflicts, they could stand in for either employers or employees in the public or private sectors. Employee rights are upheld by employment attorneys with a commitment to the letter of the law. Among other things, their areas of competence include pensions, workplace safety, constructive dismissal, compensation for the workplace, and employment discrimination.
PUBLIC INTEREST LAWYER
In Nigeria, legal issues are helped by public interest lawyers, especially for those who can’t afford the services of lawyers. The Late Gani Fawehinmi was a well-known Nigerian public interest lawyer when he was alive, fighting for the rights of the poor masses. They are known to be interested in social justice and civil rights issues and may take on criminal or civil cases. These attorneys may fight such abuses within the confines of the law in situations where state actors violate the law, such as when police brutality occurs.
Business lawyers or corporate lawyers both focus on giving clients legal counsel on issues involving takeovers, mergers, and acquisitions, and company registration. They provide advice and information on regulatory matters to international firms that want to make direct investments in the Nigerian economy, ensuring that all legally prescribed conditions are completed for a successful operation there.
Family law is a distinct area of legal practice where family issues are the primary focus. Family lawyers frequently offer legal advice to their clients on a variety of family issues, including the design and review of wills, prenuptial agreements, matrimonial disputes, and deeds of gift. Divorce proceedings, grant of probate, and letter of administration can also be handled by family lawyers.
DEBT RECOVERY LAWYER
Debt recovery lawyers are experts in a crucial area of law that involves advising businesses and people on debt restructuring, preparing and revising debt agreements, and assisting with debt collection talks. Additional services provided by debt recovery lawyers in Nigeria include internal debt collection, starting enforcement actions on debt orders, and counseling their clients on out-of-court settlement negotiations. Their service fees are determined upon the amount of recovered debt or their clients they get.
SALARIES OF LAWYERS IN NIGERIA
There are factors that determine how much a Nigerian lawyer earns as salary for their legal services to their clients. Factors such as type of law firm he or she works for, years of experience on the bench and academic qualifications are just but a few determinants to a lawyers’ salary in Nigeria.
On average, some attorneys make as little as ₦30,000 per month, but these are the kinds of lawyers who aren’t really in it to practice law for the money. Those in big law firms like Banwo & Ighodalo, Abdulai, Taiwo & Co, Udo Udoma & Belo-Osagie pay their intern lawyers over ₦45,000 per month, while senior barristers earn over ₦200,000 to ₦500,000 depending on the level.
In summary, the answer is that a lawyer’s income in Nigeria is unbounded. Each attorney must decide how much money they will make each month and should work towards it.