Friday, January 30, 2009


I am seating in what has to be the world sleekest leather chair (though it seems ordinary to call it that) at Zeta PLC. I’m on my own, taking minutes at their extra-ordinary general meeting.

Posh-Tall told me this morning that I would be taking the ‘Zeta’s minutes’. I think she meant, “Things are a little busy now at the office, so why don’t you go ahead and do the most dispensable thing.”

I am excited though. Finally, I am pushed out of the nest to fly on my own.

The MD was nice and besides the expected social conflict, the meeting went well.

Office weekly conference.

Posh-Tall commends me on some research I did (I think the one I wanted to wring her neck over). I smile and unsuccessfully attempt a modest ‘no-big-deal’ look.

Ghandi introduces me to the lawyer on his right- Bode, who just got back from his vacation.

I never though I’ll see freckles on black skin.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Settling In

I am indoors, drafting letters, doing research on an intellectual property matter that wasn’t even mentioned in two semesters and the three big notebooks I used for the course in university.
Every day, I notice I don’t even know most of what I think I know- or thought I knew. Point is- there’s so much to learn, I’m half worried I wasted too much time studying law than learning the law.
I’m in the middle of a long mind Socratic-dialogue when Ghandi calls me on intercom.

“Rookie, are you busy?”
“Not really” I lied.
“Do you want to have lunch now?”

I think about the people in Dafur who will jump at a free-food opportunity and I conclude that it’s rude and irresponsible to say no to a free lunch. I quickly tidy up and meet Ghandi at the lift.
The canteen is at the top floor and has fantastic food.
As we eat, I wonder if Ghandi is using me as jealousy-bait for the Prof. I don’t mind though. He seems nice and he’s paying.

Later on, Lekki-British comes to my cubicle with my call-cards. They are lovely and show-off worthy.
We chat a bit and she tells me that she’s researching on some long-distance law related courses in the UK. I am impressed that she’s actually doing something besides talking about what she’s doing. We chat a little bit and I try to make her smile.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


I am in court again.

The matter before ours was popcorn-worthy.

A senior (Sweaty-wig) was cross-examining a witness, a female trader with a louder voice than his.

It could have been stolen from an Ali-Baba comic strip-

“In your sworn deposition, you said you were there when the accident happened”

“Yes now, I hear ‘kpooh kpah’”

“Then you didn’t actually see it. You just heard it”

Sweaty-wig smiles.

He is unprepared for his tenacious examinee.


Then some lip-smacking and an ‘is he retarded?’ expression

“I tell you say I hear Kpoh-Kpah. I go lie?- Kpoh- Kpah!”

Sweaty-wig was sweating some more. And his witness was loving the attention.

Even the judge was smiling.

After a little more drama, the matter was adjourned and I sit beside the Prof in our far classier (read: extremely boriiiing) maritime case. I take notes and try not to sleep.

and -

I haven’t seen Posh-Tall all week. I ask Lekki-British who tells me she went to Abuja but will be back on Thursday.

Monday, January 26, 2009


Monday 11. 45


“I can spell Ms Loya”

“Sorry, Sir…”

“Counsel, address the court properly”

The air-conditioning is Antarctica-ice but I am sweating profusely. Though, thankfully no one can see through my sweat drenched camisole through the black gown.

Forty-five minutes ago, I was safely ensconced in my cubicle; blissfully reading through legal precedents and journals and half-wondering if I’ll soon be needing thick granny-glasses. I was toddling this thoughtful point on a L. T & Co’s cream legal pad when Ghandi’s face pops from nowhere.

“You’ll be appearing in court today”.

It was really a simply matter- three sentences with zero trouble, I was thinking. And of course, what better time to cut my legal teeth.

Final witness for the plaintiff was involved in a bike accident; both parties think witness is important and would rather adjourn. Courts have recently resumed and legal traffic was minimal. It was perfect period to cut my barrister-teeth. I was giddy with excitement as I picked my robe and wig.

Ghandi had a little mischief in his smile but I take little notice.

Here in the court room, I can tell why.

The judge has a huge scowl on his face- I realise that huge scowls and glasses-assisted sight from a high bench tend to be quite imposing and sweat-inducing. Actually, I can’t tell if it’s a frown or simply disgust at my apparent lack of decorum and composure.

Another round of apologies and we finally get through the introduction. Counsel on the other side suggests a date and I mumble “no, objections, My Lord”.

Ghandi is waiting for me outside. He is finished with his filings at the Court Registrar’s.

“How did it go?”

He is practically clucking. I try to put a straight face but I give up and blurt out my woes, Nollywood style, ending with an “I made a fool of my self”

Ghandi laughs at my drama and tells me some stories about the judge. Apparently, His Lordship has a reputation for extreme impatience or extreme chattiness depending on which side of the bed his wife woke up.

I learn a tip today- reconnaissance: the court or mischievous seniors.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

VAT, and love - or the lack thereof

It’s terrible being at the bottom of the food chain! Posh-tall wants to draft an agreement on a matter I am not even allowed to blog about. Hint, hint- it’s big, franchise-like and international- anyway, I have been in the library for nearly six hours and ‘m not even nearly finished. My phone rings (I was beginning to suspect my battery was flat since my ego forbids insecurities about my place on God's earth)
It’s my cousin-aagh!
“Have you found out?”
“Ha han- I want to sue the bank now!”
“For what?” At this point, I am simply doing the Yoruba-English transliteration. I hope she can hear the exasperation in my voice.

“The VAT now?”
“Sorry o. I think you are to pay.”

“Why?” She says the 'Why' with two 'i's instead of a 'y'

I share my new legal knowledge (courtesy the Prof.) with her- the customer is liable for the tax for the fees as value added by the bank. Hopefully, she can pass it down to the final consumer. Tough world. I gather she’s not excited at not getting one million naira damages for wrongful deductions (she heard that on TV) or something along those lines. 3.30pm and I think I have made a proper draft (almost Penn-Law standard from my egoistic view) and I walk to Posh-Tall’s office. She’s reading something on the screen and nods me in. I hand over my offering. She hardly looks at it. Umm. Then, she hands me a four-volume Shasegbon high file- “Please draft the Statement of Claim.” “I want it today”. -I forgot to mention, at L. T & Co., work ends when you are done. She hates me!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Wednesday 4.13 p.m.

Today has been busy-busy. Spent hours researching on trust relationships for our stockbroker-client; drafted four letters; went with Mr. Peter to pick two bag loads of Notice of Appeal from the printer and tried to pick Ghandi's brain on maritime law. At about 4 o’clock, my legs don’t hurt as badly as last week and I was about to congratulate myself on getting through the day when I was ‘summoned’ to Plain-short’s office.
“A client will be coming in soon. I thought you should be in the consulting session. Try to be in as many as you can.”
She added something about the practical feel and some more on her days as a young lawyer.
Plain-Short is very smart and I think she likes to be a kind of mother-figure but I am so tired. I smile sweetly, say a saccharine thank you and mentally break a brick on her head.
A few minutes later, I am sitting behind Plain-short- a little on her right. The client is a business man-contractor who wants to sue his partner. According to him, he they had been friends for years and didn’t think it was necessary to draw up a contract la di da. Fast forward six business-years and they are arguing about who gets what share. We agree to write a letter of demand to Businessman’s friend-partner’s lawyer. I suspect he’s not telling all and I mention it to Plain-short later on. She agrees that the ‘witness’ may not have said it all- generally; clients hide unfavourable aspects of the story. I think I score points when I mention ADR to help hold on to what was left of their friendship rather than a drawn out court brawl.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Indecent Exposure

Monday 9.10 a.m.

Ouch! I was nearly late today- stuck in Third Mainland bridge traffic for two hours. Took an okada from TBS to the office. Fortunately, I was wearing a trouser-suit so I was spared the drama of hitching my skirt and indecent exposure.

Oh well.

2 .42 pm

Day is turning out well. Even Posh-tall was nicer today.
Helped out drafting a Statement of Claim with Grey-stripes. He thinks I draft well- oh well, I’m trying to be modest but- “of course!”
Ghandi gave me some materials he got from a conference- fantastic read on business law.
I jot some, photocopy and keep for reference. He’s interesting and I think he has an eye for the Prof who I think has little regard for anything that’s not bound or on a screen.

Friday, January 16, 2009

I did it! One week of work!

We have been talking about matters dealing with more money than I can spell.
“What does Rookie think?”
Big Oga has a bemused expression, which goes well with an ‘I wonder if we are over-paying her’?’ smirk.

I am trying hard to smile and try to remember most of the present issue enough to provide a sensible ‘legal’ opinion on insider trading. The client is a stockbroker who sold off the bulk of his shares but not his clients’, a short time before the market downturn. His clients think he held on to their shares in bad faith and want their pound of flesh and profit. I mumble something about the difficulty in holding our client liable since his private sale cannot be inseparably tied to how he does his business. I suspect I made little sense but Big Oga indulged me through my two minutes.

Regrettably, there was so much camaraderie in today’s meeting- definitely no potential gossip.

7.30 pm. It’s Friday and ‘m ready to grove, pick up my girls and hit a party scene… - I feel like a living Aliyah without the sagging pants (if you don’t remember the lines, you are either too old or too young). I am a living survivor of one whole week of tiny prints and un-ignorable tinnier footnotes Right now, am looking at about 48 hours of sleep, intermittently intertwined with TV and ice-cream- doing absolutely nothing remotely legal.

Friday 3p.m: Law office meeting.

Prof. Nkechi had told me earlier about the weekly meeting- the office discusses the previous and subsequent week’s highlights- generally a goofs and laurels hang-out. Then again, from Lekki-British’s morning gist, a snide remark from a partner to another during Friday’s heat-meet may provide manna for next week’s gossip. I like the meeting already!

And Nkechi is not really Prof - yet. She has all the markings though: first class in university and Law School; Masters from Yale, a doctorate in the near future and an annoying in-your-face love for Latin- the bookworm.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Rain, sleep etc

Monday morning- 4.25a.m and it is still hug-your-duvet-raining.

I catch myself just before I start to rant and rue the day Adam sinned and my blameless self was condemned to such annoying activity as work. Luckily, there’s electricity (UP NE-CN!) and I rush through the warm bath and girlie make-up (vanity begins that early!).

Although I’d visited the office a couple of times before; I am flushed from the excitement and probably the wind from the bus’ broken window. Then again, my danfo ride had me juggling at keeping my sober (and new and so stylish) suit away from the grumpy woman chewing gum and the chap who wanted to turn my shoulder into a pillow.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Post law school.

“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 Nigeria’s most successful legal firms with a multidisciplinary approach to the practise of law- taxation, intellectual property, oil, maritime. All my classmates wanted in and I was lucky to have scaled through the whole process.

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.