Just knowing the law’ does not cut it for lawyers in the US anymore says Mark A. Cohen, a contributor for Forbes.
If just knowing the law isn’t enough, what then does the 21st-century lawyer need to know to excel and provide qualitative services? How prepared are Nigerian lawyers for this?
In his article titled, “What’s A Lawyer Now?” Cohen says, “Lawyers like to define terms, so how do they define themselves?” He says the American Bar Association (ABA) describes a lawyer as: “a licensed professional who advises and represents others in legal matters.”
He argues based on the definition by the ABA that, “This description raises more questions than it answers and fails the ‘void for vagueness’ standard.” To arrive at a more meaningful definition of a lawyer, he opines that there are key questions that frame a more meaningful definition of a lawyer:
(1) What is a ‘legal matter’?
(2) Who makes that call?
(3) When are lawyers required?
(4) What differentiates a lawyer from other resources—human and machine—in the legal supply chain? (5) Why can’t most individuals and small businesses afford lawyers?
(6) Is there a difference between the practice of law and the delivery of legal services?
(7) Is the legal profession the same as the legal industry?
(8) What purpose do lawyers serve?”
An argument that he puts forth is that Law Schools must better prepare graduates for the marketplace because the needs of the market place have changed. He says that several incremental changes in law school curricula have been effected in recent years, but there remains a significant divide between what law schools teach and what the marketplace demands of graduates.
His article focuses on the United States but parallels can be drawn also and lessons learnt with regards to Nigeria. As we answer the question, ‘who is a lawyer’ in the Nigerian context, we need to also ask how prepared, trained and equipped is the average lawyer and the Nigerian Law School graduates to actually meet the evolving needs of the market place TODAY?
Cohen says that the move to the digitization and new delivery models that provide consumers with greater accessibility, choice, transparency, and value is beginning to transform legal delivery. COVID – 19 has made the delivery of services, globally more complicated and has forced lawyers to adopt technology and change habits as they try to adjust. Who a lawyer is now must reflect the changes and demands of the market place for today
The question that we need to answer for the Nigerian space amongst many others, is: Are lawyers, especially new Law School graduates properly and thoroughly equipped to face the challenges of the 21st-century market place especially with the change that has been forced upon us by the novel Coronavirus? Are you prepared for practice now and in the near future?
If not, what is the way forward?
What must be put in place to equip and prepare the 21st-century lawyer post COVID – 19 to face the new normal?
What is your opinion? Drop your comments and head over to https://bit.ly/3fNx5ew to read the article. This article though not recent gives a lot of food for thought especially with the recent crisis we have all been engulfed with globally