Writer, Poet, Social Commentator
Recently I came across an interesting headline in the Vanguard dated the 20th day of July, 2012: ‘Magistrate orders lawyer to frog-jump for noise-making’.*
Interesting, not because I ever thought I’d see the day when a lawyer was reduced to the rigours of the lower rungs of the khaki wearing cadre, nor because I believed this order more embarrassing than the myriads of tattered wigs and gowns that adorn the various bars of our esteemed temples of justice; a shameful sign of age not substance; It was only interesting because the lawyer complied.
A wry smile played across my lips as my mind ran through several ripostes and responses had it been my goodself who had been so instructed by the Honourable Magistrate. Who knows, I might have lost claim to the revered and much abused ‘Barrister’ title or I might have been applauded for my gallant protection of the image and glory of this most respected profession; saviour or destroyer, this thin line a lawyer will always thread.
If I refused this order however, it would not have been because I deemed it summary judgement of a crime and an abuse of the powers of the court; not for pride, ego or whatever other strange feelings puffs a man’s chest and makes him feel he is more. Alas I would have done it for generations spawned after my existence, to set example, to strike balance, for it is in these moments, these circumstances, that history worth recording is made.
One extremely pertinent question for a young lawyer still spotting uncut teeth has been the career path to choose. This question is one that will never go away, particularly in a profession as old and as eternal as the Law.
I have no sagely quotes or advice in this respect. But I do know this: if you must make history you must do a ‘Kansas City Shuffle’*.
So what is a Kansas City Shuffle?
The gamut of meanings in this respect can be best described as instructive. As Bruce Willis aptly describes it in ‘Luck Number Slevin’, A Kansas City Shuffle is when everybody looks right, you go left. Get it?
Put it another way, everybody goes in one direction and only a very select few ever go the other way.
The glut of new areas of legal practice in the Nigerian legal circumference has steadily increased with a very serious threat of bursting at the seams; albeit a much desired burst. These openings, uncouth to the myopic, have distorted a much protected parity and unbalanced the playing field. No longer the archaic rule of vassalage, which I do oppose not of pride but of the necessity to unshackle the mind of the young, the wild and the free, to discover what age cannot and to attempt what reason will not; we usher in a new reign of creativity and adventure in legal pursuit and practice. This reign, not for the timid or the reserved, but for the bold willing to stake a claim to history, shall reminds us always that those we currently read about in our libraries were once young men writing history in their libraries.
Once there was the venerated ‘Litigation’ and then the others; now however, we can boast of corporate, aviation, banking, real estate, intellectual property, telecommunications and information technology, maritime, immigration and taxation areas of law, to mention but a few. These trees now firmly planted in our legal arena are already begging for branches and leaves and fruits to bring forth niche creating areas of law like legal project management, computer forensic, cybercrime, e-discovery, bankruptcy, Biotechnology law, Class action litigation/Mass tort litigation, Cryptography law, Entertainment law, Equipment finance law, Internet law, Mutual funds law, Obscenity law, Space law, Sports law to mention but a few.
A whole new array of opportunities wherein we no longer have to step in line hoping and waiting that the competition drops dead. Herewith the chance to attempt, even at the risk of failing, an uncouth journey sole.
I take nothing away from the landmark cases decided every day in our courts; the distinguished Supreme Court determining the course of our great nation with binding epochal wordings to be obeyed by all. But truth be told, and if you will believe me, advocacy walks slowly but surely to the noose; there is a clog up there and every rung of the access ladder is occupied. You might be better off building your own ladder. It may be true you cannot teach an old dog new tricks, so I am tempted to say I speak only to new wigs, but any man, young or old can do a shuffle even one as rare as the ‘Kansas City Shuffle’.
The days of Baptism by John have long gone but the violent still take everything by force.
*The Magistrate later apologised to the Lawyer after he completed five minutes of losing body fat.
*Kansas City Shuffle is not really a shuffle but a Con theory.