Legal help is the provision of assistance to individual or group of people who are unable to afford the fee for legal representation. This is one of the ways of ensuring equality before the law. Hence, legal help is essential to guaranteeing equal access to justice for all equating both the wealthy categories and for those that are not. This is especially for individuals who do not have sufficient financial means. Legal help can be provided by an individual who is a legal practitioner although rear, a legal firm or the government which are those often available.
In recent years, legal help has developed with progressive principles and has widely been supported by members of the legal profession including governmental law enforcement agencies who felt that it was their responsibility to care for those who are unable to afford the services of legal personnel. But, it should be known that, it is not only the poor that needs legal help. Almost all individuals need legal help!
Who then needs legal help? Businessmen, contractors, employee, civil servants, tenants, children, etc. Almost every conceivable individual at one point or the other needs legal aid. Do you want to process a lawsuit? You need legal help to seek the right counsel. Do you want to protect your property? You need legal help! The list goes on and on. We can then conclude that situations that need legal help are endless.
Ignorance they say is not an excuse before the law! How do you then engage in your day-to-day activities in business or other activities without a breach in contract and not ignorantly take a wrong decision? This is where the help of a legal practitioner is necessary. It will save you a whole lot of stress and time to know the legal implications of the decision you are taking either in business or a contract you are about to sign. I can cite several concrete examples of people who have lost great opportunities in business simply because they lacked the legal knowledge about the decision they took they lead to their bankruptcy.
If you are at the point of starting a business of your own. These are the basic steps you shouldn’t joke with in seeking legal help.
Firstly, the business name and license: when choosing a business name irrespective of the nature of the business. It is very important you seek the help of a legal practitioner. Doing these will avert choosing a business name that is already used by someone else. Secondly, so as to have a business name you can legally use. A legal practitioner will not just guide you in getting a suitable name for business but will also ensure that your business name is protected from being used by others.
Setting up your organization and hiring of employees: take for instance, a sole proprietorship, a legal practitioner can help out in ensuring that the proper legal route is taken by the proprietor in the process of setting-up the business and when it comes to hiring employee or signing contract, the agreement or memorandum of understanding (MOU) to be signed can be prepared by the legal practitioner if the proprietor has no clue on how to go about it.
Protecting/Purchasing a property: whether physical property or intellectual property such as ideas you would like to patent or an invention you would like to secure. A legal practitioner is inevitable in going about protecting such professionally and the necessary steps needed won’t be missed! Also if you are at the point of purchasing a property, you need legal help. This is not because you are not smart enough as most people will think. It is to save you of any negative implications that might spring up during or after the deal has been sealed.
Lastly, legal forms: I heard sometimes ago, the case of a man who loosed millions of naira simply because he sealed a deal with handshake. Nothing was wrong with sealing a deal with handshake some decades ago. But with the evolution in society and as in dealing with human who can turn out to be dubious or even forget verbalized agreements, legal forms have chosen to be the answer. They are most appropriate when it comes to contracts, nondisclosure of agreement (NDA) business partnership and so on. Some business owners sometimes draft out their personal business legal forms. This is not wrong yet seek the counsel of a legal practitioner to evaluate and stand as a witness for the legal form.
Do you need to have thousands or millions of naira before you can be entitled to all these benefits? Of course no! Legal help can be free – depending on the nature of your situation! However, getting legal help, legal counsel or legal assistance can be extremely difficult sometimes. This difficulty can be more especially when you do not have the fund to get the type of legal help you need. Hence, below are some options you have when seeking legal help, that is, free legal help or assistance in Nigeria.
Free legal information and advice: information is powerful! What differentiate between the knowledgeable and others is the information they have access to. Due to sheer ignorance, lots of person would not contact a law practitioner simply because they presume the lawyer will charge them. Like it has been emphasized throughout this post, the importance of a legal practitioner cannot be downplayed! Sometimes, you may not necessarily need their presence to carry out any legal task, it might be an information or counsel about such task that you need. Below are some legal recognized bodies that can be of help without any pay. They include legal body such as the Constitution Rights Projects, Right Enforcement and Public Law Centre (REPLACE), Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP), Human Rights Law Service (HURILAWS), Just Empower Initiative (JEI), Human Right Monitor, etc.
Free legal services: for individuals who might be in need of legal service and not counsel or information for free, they are a number of good options. There are some organization that have been set up specifically to provide free legal services. Examples include Legal Aid Council of Nigeria (LAC), Nigerian Law School Lagos Law Clinic, Lagos Campus; Women’s Law Clinic, University of Ibadan, UniAbuja Law Clinic, University of Abuja, etc.
The above are a few of the organizations that offers free legal services in Nigeria. They can be of great help and lift the burden of paying huge amount of money pay private law practitioners who wouldn’t want to render free law services, help or counsel. Having known all of these, it is also your duty to not take laws into your hands. Have a personal law practitioner if you can afford it or be free to access the office of the free governmental law agencies. Taking any of these step at the beginning of any situation especially business will be of great benefit to you.
Written by Ikpoba Cosmos Daniel