“A Lawyer Must Love the Profession First”.
- Please give a brief introduction of yourself.
I am John Emuobonuvie Aruoture, a Legal Practitioner, born to a good and caring mother, Regina Ochuko Mukoro and Dr. F.R.O. Aruoture. My father was a Legal Practitioner, called to the Inner Temple in the United Kingdom, after his graduation from the University of London.
My primary education was at Ovwodawanre Primary School, Ughelli, Delta State. I attended Command Day Secondary School, Jos, Plateau State. From there I proceeded to the University of Benin, for my LL.B. I was called to the Nigerian Bar on the 13th of November 2007.
In practice, I enjoyed the resourceful tutelage of different principals, Chief Vincent Igweoke, Gardner Notoma, and Dafe Jude Akpedeye (SAN).
I am the Managing Partner of Garnet & Hawthorns Solicitors, a law firm I co-founded with my lovely and supportive wife, Efemena Teresa Aruoture, also a Legal Practitioner. Our marriage is blessed with three children.
I am currently the Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Warri Branch, and also a statutory member of the Nigerian Bar Association National Executive Committee (NEC).
In 2011, I obtained a Certificate in Legal Writing from the National Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, (NAILS) Lagos. In 2014, I participated in the Associate-ship program of the United Kingdom Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, (CIArb.), Lagos Branch.
- Have you had any challenges in your career as a lawyer and if so what were the main challenges?
Well, the challenges I faced at the beginning were enormous but usual for any young lawyer. The first challenge was the realization that whatever was learnt at the university is different from what obtained in practice. There was also the dawning realization that making money in law practice comes with a lot of hard and smart work, with a long gestation period. In addition, getting access to clients that pay well comes with some amount of high-stake networking and God’s grace.
- What was your worst day as a lawyer?
My worst day as a lawyer occurred sometime in 2008, during my days as a Youth Corper serving in Afikpo, Ebonyi State. My principal instructed me to represent a client who was the Plaintiff in a matter. He informed me that he had a running battle with the Judge and would never appear before Him again. This was my first trial. Without any guidance from him and with no trial experience, I got to the Court and just did not know how to proceed, especially when I realized that it was slated for continuation of the Plaintiff’s testimony. It was embarrassing.
- What was your most memorable experience?
Sometime ago, I conducted a trial, where judgment was delivered in my client’s favour. After the court rose, I was informed by the Registrar that the Judex instructed that I appear in chambers. On getting to chambers, she informed me that during trial, through her “spiritual antenna” she realized that the Defendant was very fetish and noticed he was “throwing things at her”. She added that she did some personal fortification by anointing herself before and during the delivery of the judgment. Done with that aspect, she thereafter proceeded on an analysis of the authorities cited in her judgment. She did it smiling, really enjoying herself. I smiled too upon the realization that it was the exact authorities I cited and the pictorial analogies I painted in my written address that she was relaying to me, as though it originally emanated from her.
- Who has been most influential in your life?
I have had lots of persons from different spheres of life, who have acted as great influences in my life. It is therefore difficult to pinpoint the most influential, because I am still evolving. However, my maternal uncle, Charles Mukoro, a retired military personnel, had a very strong influence in my formative years. He taught me the importance of self-disciple, the power of focus and commitment. I have also been influenced by the works and lifestyle of Professor Wole Soyinka. The philosophical teachings and school of thought propounded by Jeremy Bentham, the English philosopher, jurist, and social reformer regarded as the founder of modern utilitarianism also influenced me.
- Why did you become a lawyer?
Well, like most young and impressionable minds, I became a Lawyer because I thought it was a veritable tool to fight injustice and protect the weak from the oppressions of the strong. I was also influenced by the success and respect Lawyers commanded in society. Of course, my late father being a lawyer also played a role. The exploits of Chief Gani Fawehinmi also played a role.
- What would your advice be to anyone wanting a career in law?
My advice to persons seeking a career in law will be the need to love the profession, first. This will help them with the patience to navigate through the labyrinths of the profession, on the road to glory. They should also imbibe the discipline that comes with delayed gratification. Their efforts at the beginning should be geared towards learning the most they can, and from who they can, for this will serve as the springboard for their eventual success.
They are also advised to be prepared to abide by the ethics of the profession.
- If you had not become a lawyer, what would you have chosen?
If I had not studied law, I would probably be a journalist or someone around the business or economic corridors. I am currently the publisher of an online blog, www.geraldtimes.com where some of the time I pour out my thoughts, although, the demands of law practices and service to the NBA have taken me away from publishing for a while but it is still a part of me. However, one may never tell what life would have had in stock for me if I had not become a lawyer; life is not that predictable. The Nigerian system manipulates people to become and accept what and where they find themselves. This is rooted in societal pressures; a poorly structured system, class symbolism; and a paucity of alternatives and opportunities. From my conversations with a number of persons, it is my finding that with the benefit of hindsight, there are so many persons that may not have studied law if they had been properly guided. This brings to the fore the importance of providing students with the aid of guidance and counselling, at an early stage of their education.
- Where do you see yourself in ten years?
I hope to grow in leaps and bounds in the legal profession. I wish to have a large practice and contribute my quota towards the development of the profession. Every lawyer wants to attain the zenith of the profession, and I am in no way different so I intend to work hard. I would love to become a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, one day, if God wills it.