The Company Secretary of Ibom Power Company Limited and Chairman of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSAN), Akwa Ibom State chapter, Barr. Ime Asibong has urged lawyers in private practice to also embrace corporate practice to enrich their experience as legal practitioners.
Barr. Asibong who was a lawyer in private practice for about 15 years before he joined Ibom power as the Company Secretary/Legal Adviser about 17 years ago made this statement at the 2021 conference of the Nigerian Association of Adventist Lawyers (NAAL), which held today at Ann’s Haven Hotel in Shelter Afrique estate, Uyo.
Speaking on the topic “Corporate Secretaries and Administrators: Practicing law or Not?” Barr. Asibong said, ‘In Nigeria, when you are called to Bar, you are called to Bar and licensed to practice as a Barrister and Solicitor therefore, a corporate lawyer or in-house lawyer is in the law practice’.
He said, ‘The Legal Practitioners Act recognizes that you can practice as a Barrister and Solicitor once your name is enrolled at the Supreme Court hence, the in-house counsel is practising as a Solicitor’.
On the opinion that lawyers in private practice are superior to in-house lawyers, Barr. Asibong argued that both categories of legal practitioners complement each other to achieve the purpose of their clients.
‘For instance, the law prohibits in-house lawyers from representing their organization in court but the in-house lawyer prepares critical legal documents that the private lawyer relies on in court, therefore none is superior to the other’.
He stated that ‘The decision to either be in private practice or corporate practice is determined by what the individual finds most fulfilling career wise’.
On the difference between both lawyers, Barr. Asibong, said while an in-house lawyer has only one client, which is the employer, lawyers in private practice have a variety of clients.
“Also, in-house lawyers are considered as a cost function within an organization with administrative structures, which permit time off work via leave, vacations etc. but the lawyer in private practice may work all year round to ensure cash flow and may always be at the mercy of the client’s schedules”.
The Conference was attended by Judges, lawyers and members of NAAL from different states across Nigeria.