Tuesday, July 6, 2010

What's in a Name?

Dear Diary, this week starts on a bad note. Lagbaja, Tamedun & Co. is considering some restructuring within the firm that I, in my precocious infinite wisdom, already realise will amount to no good.
No, unlike the Football Federation, we have not been sacked and (I hope) no such thoughts exist. This is a fate worse than that. Yours truly, along with my fellow lower minions will now be referred to as ‘fee earners’ rather the more preferably pretentious ‘junior associates’. I realise that worse things could happen but this comes immediately after a legal apocalypse. This will undoubtedly result in trying to fix a tool that is not broken.
While I do not particularly adore the ‘junior’ in ‘junior associates’, I find it way more endurable than the newly introduced ‘fee earner’. There is something wrong about having a job labelled ‘fee earner’ that immediately makes you innately inferior to everyone else. ‘Everyone else’, of course, does not include interns and NYSC lawyers, who are strictly, microorganisms beneath the law ladder, objects rarely seen and only felt when necessary in their coffee making and photocopying capacities.

Apparently, Big Oga is the last to realise that ‘fee earner’ is a dirty word. It diminishes the dignity in the noble legal profession. Even though we all understand that law practice is a business, where salaries have to be paid from the services rendered, somewhere inside of us, we strongly hold on the knight-like quality of the quintessential advocate. We like to be thought of as gallant Joan D’Arcs in the gracious pursuit of righteousness.
This attempted change will undoubtedly affect the quality of my work. Until recently, I have learnt to hold my own and get away with pretending to be the smart professional associate by wearing Ghandi-like glasses to meetings. In fact, whenever I need to introduce myself, I quickly mumble past the ‘junior’ bit so most clients are clueless as to my actual position in the firm. With an expression as ‘fee earner’, there is little I can do to sound important any more ('earner' just does not sound right). Already, the ‘junior associate’ term mentally turns me to a bumbling mess whenever I actually have to report to Posh-tall in her office. Despite my near-smartness, I always get my facts wrong became I am overawed by the difference between my position and that of a partner. Emphasising my smallness will lead to no good.
The firm should know better. By now, one would think that every Nigerian has grasped the ‘power’ in one’s names. A name can make you President and a inappropriately chosen name or one with the wrong sounding syllables as ‘mu-mu’, ‘ita’, have been shown to lead to trouble.
I am torn in between declaring a fast to pray against this great sadness and finding a voodoo doll for Big Oga to perfectly express my discontent.

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