How to Be a SAN in Nigeria is explained herein. SAN is the highest and most prestigious legal title in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The position of SAN is conferred on lawyers once a year. The title is for those who have performed excellently in the law profession.
The award has its beginnings in 1975. Chief Frederick Rotimi Alade Williams and Dr. Nabo Graham Douglas were the first set of distinguished lawyers to be conferred with the prestigious ranks.
As of 2018, there are 510 Senior Advocates in Nigeria, with about 70 of them dead. The rank of SAN can also be awarded to academics in law who, through research and published works, have made distinguished contributions to jurisprudence.
The Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee (LPPC), comprising the Chief Justice of Nigeria as head, the Attorney-General of the Federation, President of the Court of Appeal, Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, and five SANs, among others, is responsible for the award of Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
Does a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) enjoy any special Privilege? Yes!
1. Section 6 (1) of the Legal Practitioners Act gives a SAN the following entitlements:
a. “he has the exclusive right to sit in the inner bar or, where no facilities exist for an inner bar, on the front row of seats available for legal practitioners.
b. he also has the right to mention any motion in which he is appearing or any other cause or matter which is on the list for mention and not otherwise listed for hearing out of its turn on the cause list.”
2. A SAN has the privilege of getting a case determined faster in a system in which cases take a long period to determine.
3. The door of higher charges for legal services rendered is also opened for a SAN who may charge three times the amount charged by an ordinary lawyer.
In any court, a SAN has the privilege to present his case first if the opposing counsel is a junior lawyer.
Let us consider what it takes to attain this zenith legal rank.
1. To qualify for this award, an applicant must be a lawyer of Nigerian citizenship.
2. He must have a minimum of ten years of post-call record.
3. One must also possess good character and be of excellent integrity.
4. He must present evidence of pro bono cases he has rendered to financially handicapped clients as a contribution to community service.
5. An aspiring Senior Advocate of Nigeria is also expected to show proof of income tax payment for a minimum of three years before the time of application.
6. He has to register for the award with a fee of #300 000 (Three hundred thousand naira), non-refundable.
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7. He must present to the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee (LPPC) a list of ten judges of superior courts before whom he has appeared and argued high-profile cases. LPPC will then select any three of the listed judges to testify about the applicant.
8. A Senior Advocate of Nigeria aspirant must submit the Certified True Copies of cases he personally handled from filing to judgment: eight judgments of the High Court, six judgments of the Court of Appeal, and three judgments of the Supreme Court. In a situation where he appeared only before the Supreme Court, he will be required to submit six judgments of the Supreme Court.
9. He is also expected to present a list of colleagues with whom he has handled cases. Three of whom will be selected to testify about him.
10. Lawyers in the academic field must submit a minimum of 20 copies of outstanding published legal works to LPPC.
11. Academics must prove that their works are handled by publishers worthy of respect whose reputation shall be verified and confirmed by the academic sub-committee of the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee (LPPC).
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12. A SAN aspirant must present evidence of payment of practicing fee and membership dues to his local branch of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) for at least 10 years preceding the year he applies for the award of SAN.
13. The Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee is mandated to inspect the applicant’s firm to evaluate the size and quality of his library, staff strength and competence, and the space and quality of other facilities in the firm.