“Why did you study law?”
It was the archetypal conversation-opener, shamelessly overused and only secondary to “I know another lawyer” in Naija’s legal themed ‘do you know who I am?” conversations.
It was a little different this time - I was the one trying to prove to them that I had something worth conversing with in the grey matter under my refined-rubber weaves. ‘Them’ was an almost-cordial panel- five of the Firm’s eight partners- and the question was lipped by a bespectacled forty-something-ish older –RMD look alike. He was wearing a charcoal grey-stripped suit and looked the part of the smooth, suave Grisham-protagonist.
After two gruelling tests that made me grateful that I did more than sleep in company law classes, the interview had been more of a laid-back chat. I was not complaining- Lagbaja, Tamedun & Co. was one of
It didn’t hurt that L.T. & Co. was not inclined to law as some rambling noble old ruin and was also one of the top paying law offices too. Basically, this was a pre-Harvard step that aligned with my best-laid plans- duplex at Lekki with short holidaying on my private island, hanging out with the Dangotes and my other fine neighbours.
By some un-karmic indulgence, I had passed law school and earned the right to sweat under a horribly huge and ugly black gown, and a wig that could have paid someone else through law school. Patriotic or not, I had also done ‘time’- my Federal-government sponsored holiday at a Local Government secretariat in Jigawa. I was running late in my dream to be Secretary-General of the UN.
- And in real life; even UN-wannabes needed jobs at some time -
“Actually, I didn’t plan to. My dad simply filled my JAMB form and inserted ‘Law’ in the subject column emphasising that it was the only professional course my poor literature subjects could qualify for”.
Luckily my thoughts didn’t have speaker-mode and a few years of law had taught me when black and white required a bit of ‘greying’ so I dutifully replied-
“I have always been fascinated with the justice system and I looked for an opportunity to be part of that process”.
Grey-stripes smiled- I could detect a hint of condescension- he didn’t buy my Mother Theresa line, but he could do nothing about it.
“We’ll get in touch.”
Two days later, I listened with a mix of excitement (Here comes Rookie blazing the trail with unprecedented decisions and all the Ally McBeal stuff!) and nervousness (moot court becomes real- with real people and real issues at the mercy of a strike-bumped-education), as a British accented (with a little Lekki in it) female informed me that I had a job. I was to pick up my letter the following Monday and resume work immediately.