Wednesday, June 2, 2010


DATELINE: 18/2/2010
It was evening and she had come dressed, prepared to enjoy an open air dinner sponsored by Ricky Tarfa S.A.N for all the attendees of the NBA’s National Executive Committee meeting, Yola, Adamawa State.
As she walked gingerly on the field, apparently looking for a place to sit, the Squib watched with interest. Earlier in the afternoon, during the NEC meeting, she had spoken about the forthcoming event of the international association of which she is deputy leader.
From a distance, Boma Ozobia, the Vice-President of the Commonwealth Law Association impresses as a cool and organized personality. Up close, her gentleness reveals an easygoing yet astute personality, blessed with a telling mental acuity.
To cut a long story short, Boma came for dinner but the Squib landed an interview with her. Don’t mind our manners please; do enjoy the dinner, sorry, the interview.
SQUIB: Good evening Madam, our readers will like to know a little about you.
OZOBIA: Obviously I am a legal practitioner. I qualified in England (Birmingham University) and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1988. I am a commercial law practitioner. My firm STERLING PARTNERS is a partnership.
SQUIB: I never knew until this afternoon that you are the Vice-President of the Commonwealth Law Association. Please tell me more about the CLA.
OZOBIA: The name CLA speaks for itself – it is an association of lawyers practicing in the British Commonwealth countries. The CLA comprises individual and institution memberships. That is individuals like me and you can join and our Nigerian Bar Association can also be a member.
In my view, the CLA is one international Bar Association that Nigerian Lawyers should belong to. It is not only that it is a large association but also that it has the special distinction of dealing in values, traditions, experiences and issues relevant to our practice in Nigeria because our country shares legal, political and economic heritage with the member states of the British commonwealth.
So it is not just a matter of getting international exposure, by attending international conferences but CLA conferences are the ones that can benefit Nigerian lawyers the most because you can easily relate with and identify the issues of discourse because of the common background of the members.
Of course as is well known, the Commonwealth countries have similar legal systems and as trade expands, legal practice expands and interacts, thereby creating huge networking opportunities among practitioners who are members of the CLA. Say for example a business in Kenya is seeking trade space in Nigeria, and I am a Nigerian lawyer who through the CLA, knows the Kenyan lawyers servicing the business in Kenya, it becomes easier for them to recommend my services in Nigeria to that Kenyan business than a Nigerian lawyer they do not know.
SQUIB: So how does the individual lawyer become a member of CLA?
OZOBIA: You can register via the internet. Or you can become an automatic member for a year by registering for the Conference of the CLA. Nigeria is hosting the conference this year from 8th – 11th April 2010 at the Hilton Abuja and the theme is “21st Century Lawyer, Present Challenges, Future Skills.” The registration cost is 84,000 naira.
SQUIB: What professional credo do you work with?
OZOBIA: It is this: “Nothing but the best.” I believe in giving the best of my services to clients and charge what I consider is fair and not what I think the client can afford. I believe so much in practical legal solutions to client’s problems and the joy is having my client coming back, because we have been fair to them and have given them quality service. I believe that I am only as good as my client thinks I am.
SQUIB: And what do you think of the legal profession in Nigeria?
OZOBIA: Nigerian lawyers are good people. We are concerned about the progress of our country and do give much help to our people. It is a common thing for lawyers to give pro-bono services. Btu which other professional group does that? Doctors, Engineers, etc., don’t. People don’t give credit for our good heart.

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