The legal profession is one which is widely recognised and accepted both in Nigeria and in other countries at large. However, different countries have different laws some of which are distinct and separate from one another. As a result of this, it may be a bit difficult for law professionals to practice in their home country, and abroad.
A foreign lawyer in this context is someone who was called to the bar in any other country except Nigeria. In this article, we would discuss and examine if it is possible for a foreign lawyer to practice law at all in Nigeria.
According to Section 2 of The Legal Practitioners Act, there are only three categories of persons who are entitled to practice law in Nigeria. They are:
Persons entitled to practice generally
Persons entitled to practice for the purpose of a particular office
Persons entitled to practice for the purpose of a particular proceeding.
Under these three categories, there are two options for a foreign lawyer to take if he or she wants to practice law in Nigeria. They are:
1. According to Section 4 of the Legal Practitioners Act, such foreign lawyer can undergo two courses from the Nigerian law school referred to as the Bar Part I and Bar Part II courses. This should span for a period of two years.
After taking the bar exams, and being accepted as fit and proper by the body of Benchers, they will be called to the Nigerian bar as barristers and solicitors. This would allow them practice law in Nigeria for as long as they wish, or until they are no longer considered fit to practice.
2. According to Section 2(2) of the LPA a foreign lawyer can obtain a warrant from the Chief Justice of Nigeria which would permit them to come into Nigeria and practice.
If the warrant is granted to them, they will be allowed to practice only as barristers i.e. to act as a legal representative in the court. The warrant granted to them would also be limited to a particular court proceeding and appeals that stem from such proceedings.
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