The legal profession is in peril – again. This time, it is the internet’s fault. Those glorious days of old when clients were satisfied with conceited mumblings of incoherent Latin phrases are slipping away. Lawyers no longer enjoy the thrill of being paid for thumbing through impressive heavy leather bound volumes while their clients nervously wait. Clients are getting to know too much than it is healthy of our noble profession.
We must never forget that law practice is sacred. While not yet proven, my research leans towards evidence that God may have created lawyers as the special specie destined to get paid for helping people and saving lives. Clearly, this position is not for everyone. Having realised the concept of free will and the tendency of humans to long for loftier callings (far above their status), the Nigerian Law School was established to help the creator keep the bloodline pure. Only those divinely called can withstand the annoyance of wearing uniforms for an extra year in order to build a career to wear more uniforms. This acts as a buffer between us and the rest of humanity.
Unfortunately, as the Original Sin, humanity seems poised to destroy this perfect plan this through the internet. People are increasingly becoming aware of the power of Google and the ridiculousness of paying someone else for a legal opinion that any six year old can prepare from an online search. Even worse, everything from court judgments to legal dictionaries has become easily accessible. This has allowed some unscrupulous ‘elements’ to put up templates of agreements online so that mere mortals can almost prepare a rough draft of legal documents. Horror of horrors: a few weeks ago, some misguided enterprising Nigerian, Zubair Abubakar, launched a free Blackberry application for the Nigerian Constitution. Apparently, everyone can get access to the Constitution and even know their rights without having to speak to the divinely ordained sect. Soon, someone might get it into their heads to create another application for the Electoral Act. It is shameful.
The world is forgetting the loveable, helpful otherwise indispensable lawyer. Our egos are being ignored rather than massaged. People are starting to question our rights to charge for what can be found on Wikipedia. Some are even becoming aware of their vocal chords and resisting our entitlement to speak on their behalf to a judge. This is getting really scary.
Things are getting out of control. Some lawyers, who I think may have sold their souls, are even aiding the process that makes the noble path plebeian. The profession as a body must stand against this. We should no longer lose the regal rigour that comes from spending hours looking up court judgments and precedents to Ctrl + F.
Lawyers must henceforth spurn the internet or anything connected to it. All true members of the legal elite must begin by rejecting search engines for research. We must remember - Google is for commoners! We must refuse further attempts to digitalise the letter of the law or court judgments. We must go back to the days when incoherent Latin was lawyer-speak and agreements could not be read without the aid of a (paper) Latin-English dictionary. The only concessions we can make with the internet is Facebook – which can be a useful tool for boring meetings.
We hope that someday we will stop this trend. We will regain our pride and go back to the time when people marvelled at the privilege of being around black robes and were content to touch our uniforms. This is a call to arms. Remember, the more confused and ignorant the clients are the more money we make – which of course, is the original plan.