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A sustainable legal practice should bring value to the clients it serves- Anire Kanyi

As the Chair of the Law Practice Management Committee of the NBA-SBL, please tell us about your committee, how it fits into the vision of the Section, who your members are and what advantages it offers to members, prospective members and the business community?

As the name goes, the Law Practice Management Committee of NBA-SBL is a specialist committee of the SBL, which is focused primarily on providing lawyers and law firms with practical tools required to enhance their practice, their business development skills and their management capabilities. Beyond passing bar examinations, working in a law firm or opening a law firm, there are basic tools, skills and capacities needed for lawyers and law firms to grow their practice.

The committee also provides a platform for lawyers to network and support each other and also create regulatory awareness and other issues which may affect the practice of law.

As a committee under the Section on Business Law of Nigerian Bar Association, we create the consciousness amongst lawyers and law firms that the modern day legal practice should be a business. Thus, we deepen the knowledge of lawyers on issues such as management of human and material resources, visioning and planning.

The vision of the SBL is to enhance the professional development of Nigerian commercial lawyers and thereby raising the level of business law practice in Nigeria. The Committee is therefore one of the expressions of the SBL for the purposes of building the capacities of lawyers by providing them with the relevant knowledge for successful practice and for understanding the global evolution and innovative trends in law practice.

Our members are lawyers called to the Nigerian Bar, registered as members of the NBA Section on Business Law and have opted to belong to the Committee by registering with Committee.

As you are aware, every lawyer and business desires growth. Apart from the continuing legal education provided to members and prospective members, the committee affords both commercial lawyers and the business community the opportunity to engage and cross-fertilize ideas on how to provide better services to the community (clients) and create conducive environment for optimum benefits on both ends.

We understand there’s an event coming up, please tell us about this event and the objective(s) of the seminar?

Yes. The Law Practice Management Committee of the SBL has put up a seminar for lawyers, law firms and the business community. The theme for the seminar is “Building a Sustainable Law Practice in the 21st Century – Solo Practice or Partnership: Which Way to Go?”  It holds on Friday, November 3rd, 2017 at the Bar Centre of Nigerian Bar Association, Port Harcourt which is located at No.1 Bank Road Port Harcourt and starts at exactly 8.30am.

We have three sessions, covering three exciting topics that will engage practitioners on how they have applied themselves towards the success of their firms, the challenges and how to deal with them.

The objective of the seminar is to create a forum for lawyers to reflect and generate good understanding on the suitable models for legal practice in the 21st Century. We have invited accomplished legal practitioners and distinguished leaders of the Bar who would help in x-raying the select topics targeted at ramming the theme of the seminar to legal practitioners across Nigeria.

Who are your key speakers at this event and what informed your choices in the selection of your speakers?

Specifically, we have invited sound and experienced legal minds such as Mr. George Etomi who will chair the first session, Prof Konyisola Ajayi (SAN) who will chair the second session and a former President of the NBA, Mr. Okey Wali (SAN) who will chair the last session, among others, to speak and share their experiences at this event. We reckon that their wealth of experience garnered over many years in law practice management would be of immense benefits to the lawyers and the expected audience. We have also tried to bring the perspectives of the young lawyers as against seasoned practitioners to see all views on this debate. It promises to be an exciting event.

Interesting theme: ‘Building A Sustainable Legal Practice In the 21st Century: Sole Proprietorship or Partnership’. While not trying to preempt the speakers, can you please share with us, some of the key characteristics of a sustainable legal practice? Why would a law firm owner want to be at this event?

Ahhhh…If I reveal the ideas that would be shared on that day, what would be left for the speakers?

In any case, we expect that a sustainable legal practice should bring value to the clients it serves. It should also bring profits to the law firms that provide the services in each case. We discovered that many law firms struggle because of the lack of certainty and paucity of the know-how in the business of law practice. We also discovered that many law firm owners have little or no idea on how to build law firm businesses that outlive them. We are determined at bridging these gaps in knowledge. And that is our thrust in organizing this Seminar.

Why in your opinion has this topic become necessary and why Port Harcourt if I may ask?

With the massive changes in the legal profession globally including the current trends such as Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO), Alternative Business Structures (ABS), Smart Contracts and Artificial Intelligence (AI), it is apposite to discuss the sustainability of law practice in Nigeria amidst these rapid changes. We see that many lawyers in Nigeria find it difficult establishing and running law practices that can thrive in the view of the changes within the current global trends.

Our choice of Port Harcourt was simply informed by our resolve to move beyond the usual locations of Lagos and Abuja and raise an awareness of Law Practice Management in other parts of Nigeria.

As a legal expert who understands the market, where do you think Nigerian law firms are positioned globally in the sustainability of their legal profession in Nigeria?

Considering the level of efforts put in by the Nigerian Bar Association through the Section on Business Law in conducting relevant conferences and seminars annually in recent time, I am of the opinion that Nigeria law firms are improving in terms of sustainability of our practice. We are not yet at the top but we have left the lower rung.

How do you think the engagement at the event would impact on the legal profession in Nigeria?

We envisage that the Seminar would jump-start a revolution in the lawyers’ thinking towards establishing exceptionally successful law businesses in Nigeria. We also believe that it would excite further discussions and engagements on the proposed topics which would ultimately revitalize the tenets of legal profession such as competence, growth and professionalism.

How often does your committee have these engagements and how do you connect?

The Law Practice Committee of the SBL plans to have as many engagements as possible annually, which would help us achieve our objectives. However, the committee will be conducting one seminar in this year. We have also planned to increase the number of engagements by next year.

On the other hand, we connect through the meetings and the Annual General Meeting of the members of the Committee and other programmes of the SBL and the NBA in which we participate actively.

What does the NBA-SBL hopes to achieve with these committee engagements?

The NBA-SBL wishes to use the committee engagements to empower Nigerian lawyers with the requisite knowledge that would enhance their competence and global competitiveness and create avenues of fostering lasting relationships in the business environment.

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