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It was my first day at work and my principal, Mr. Godwin Iteh Enebeli had called to tell me which file to take and what to do in court. More importantly, he emphasized that I should collect 5k appearance fee from the client, give the clerk 3k for the office and keep 2k for myself. This was Makurdi, the first Monday of November 2012 and it happened to also be the first time I was earning an appearance fee (since I served as a State Pupil Counsel). As time went by, appearance fees handled my feeding, data, transport, ajo and many more.

I know some seniors argue that some lawyers take frivolous adjournments just to secure more appearance fees, which is true. However, most juniors actually survive and thrive on it. There’s always a negative side to something good.

What many juniors earn is already too small, even below the minimum wage. BL is supposed to be a postgraduate of LLB but many young lawyers are paid as though all they have is “School Cert”. To make matters worse, these colleagues spend their own money to court, mobilize clerks, bailiffs and even spend their money to file motions.

It is true that lawyers charge (per brief):
1. Filing fees (including bailiff’s mobilization)
2. Appearance fees
3. Professional fees
4. Contingency fees (in some cases).
However, many seniors usually “forget” to charge appearance fees.

Sincerely, dear Senior, if you are not the one that would be handling the file yourself, if the office doesn’t have an official car to take counsels to and fro court, please, inform your clients from the onset that appearance fees are legal and should be paid before the lawyer leaves the office. Ordinary 2k (no matter how much you feel you owe the client) is something huge for many juniors. At least, it would handle their fares to and fro court.

This is not 1990. Economic hardship and realities are different now. Some of these juniors are the first born of their families. Some of them are the bread winners of their aged parents and sponsors of their siblings. It may shock you that some of them may still be paying their school fees loan after 3 years of being called to Bar.

Many seniors wonder why juniors are not loyal or motivated. A hungry and poor man can only be motivated to make more money, not to learn more books. He has spent about 21years of his life already (from nursery to law school) learning books and has nothing to show for all his education.

I have wondered why in the past juniors stayed with principals for 10 to 15 years but a 5 years old lawyer is already in his third office today. Simple — hunger and poverty are real. People are not looking for more farm work but for greener pastures where they can learn and grow not only intellectually but also financially.

It is even more touching to note that appearance fees do not come from employers but from the client, yet, some seniors would forbid it. It is even more hurting to know that some seniors collect appearance fees and yet do not give the counsel who went to court a portion of same.

It doesn’t tell well to say that no junior has spent up to 5 years in your office. It just shows that the business environment is toxic and the welfare is terrible.

All the money mustn’t come from the office. Let the juniors learn the business by making some money for themselves and let the clients learn to respect, honour and regard lawyers no matter how old they are by paying appearance fees.

Yes, any client who wants a lawyer, even if he is a green wig outside your office should pay for the time and compensate adequately for the t.fare.

In case you didn’t know, appearance fees makes juniors motivated to handle files, rush to court and do their cases well.

If all what juniors earn in your firm is basic salary, and that basic isn’t more than 100k a month, you can do better without the extras coming out from your pocket. There are ways to help them make extra without your office losing a dime or its clients.

Besides, when last did you buy the juniors in your office data, phones, ties, bibs, wristwatches? When last did your office have a get-together, pic-nic etc? You can make people slave themselves for you through loyalty if you know how to do this business.

I would show you tomorrow how we can use consultation fees to earn more.


Earl Alright
08125086798 (Whatsapp)

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