Being A 21st Century Lawyer

As the world develops, many things change which affect the way of life and manner of doing things. The 21st has its peculiarities compared to past years of human existence. In every epoch, there are known trends identified by it. In this century, it is information technology that is trending. It is the digital age. It’s all about ideas, creativity and innovation, and for one to fit into this age and thrive, there is a set of skills one must develop. This is referred to as ‘The 21st Century Skills’.

The Glossary of Education defines 21st Century Skills as follows: “The term 21st-century skills refers to a broad set of knowledge, skills, work habits, and character traits that are believed — by educators, school reformers, college professors, employers, and others — to be critically important to success in today’s world.” (adopted from 21st Century Skills: A Handbook, a publication of the Central Board of Secondary Education Delhi, p. 14;, assessed on 29th June 2021 at 11.18 am). I define the 21st Century Skills as the skills without which one cannot be relevant in his or her given career or business pursuit. This is because these skills are so important, they determine one’s success or otherwise in every sphere of human endeavour. For example, there are certain ventures that if you enter into and you are not digital, you cannot make so much impact. This article seeks to identify the skills requisite to the success of the 21st-century lawyer, and how he can apply them in solving legal issues.

The 21st-century skills can be generally classified into three; Learning skills, Literacy skills, and Life skills. (21st Century Skills: A Handbook, ibid., p 18). They are outlined as follows:
Learning skills (4Cs)Critical Thinking

Creativity & Innovation


Literacy skills (IMT)

Information Literacy

Media Literacy

Technology Literacy
Life skills (FLIPS)

Flexibility and Adaptability

Leadership and Responsibility

Initiative and Self-Direction

Social and Cross-Cultural Interaction

For one to identify the legal issues that dominate the 21st century, it is pertinent to first identify the general challenges faced by our world today. Most of the legal issues are offshoots of those. The challenges of the 21st century include but are not limited to the following:
Sociocultural: conflicts, poor leadership, hunger, illiteracy, insecurity, overpopulation, etc.
Economic: unemployment, inadequate facilities/amenities, poor infrastructure, poverty, and so on.
Environmental: climate change, global warming, pollution, hazard, etc.
Biological/Health: diseases (e.g., pandemics), abnormalities, deficiencies, and so on.
Natural: disasters like earthquakes, floods, winds, etc.
Flowing from the above, some of the issues like poverty, hunger and unemployment, are what lead people into committing crimes, which are — of course — causes of action.
It is worthy to note that crime has taken a new dimension in the modern days, as more techniques are evolving. Cybercrime for instance has increased. Robbery for instance can now be committed on persons who may necessarily not have cash at hand, with the possibility of mobile and internet banking.

Every challenge has its solution. Also in every challenge, there is/are legal implication[s], which present[s] the lawyer an opportunity to provide a legal solution. Until you have a solution to a particular challenge, you cannot solve it, which means you need to be prepared and equipped for such.

To be prepared is to acquire the ability, capacity and skill set relevant to that challenge.
Societal issues are diverse; each one has its peculiarities. Some are big while others are small. Some stem from others, while some are themselves the root causes. The 21st-century lawyer must be a critical thinker and innovator who can approach legal issues from a deeper perspective, looking not only at the immediate solution, but also the possibility of preventing same in the future.

For a problem that [seemingly] generates other problems, it will be pertinent to address it directly, instead of battling with its effects which are smaller problems, from time to time. Looking at armed robbery, for instance, it is facilitated by other crimes like illegal sale of arms and unlawful possession of firearms. Instead of prosecutors to keep waiting to punish armed robbers, they should get to the root cause and prevent it. Advisory should be made to the policy formulators and law enforcement agencies, to be proactive in preventing illegal sales/possession of arms. That is an innovative approach to solving problems.

Being a 21st-century lawyer places you on the global map and qualifies you for solving global challenges. It is from solving problems that one earns a fee. You cannot earn if you are not solving problems, and the bigger the problem, the bigger the opportunity to earn. Global challenges are the big ones, and since they demand global solutions, which are universal, the 21st-century lawyer must seek to equip himself/herself with the skills necessary to address them. Moreover, these global challenges are not of another era, but of the one which we are in — the 21st century. Therefore, it is the 21st-century skills that are most relevant in solving them. Your relevance as a lawyer in this age will be as far as you are able to provide solutions to the problems peculiar to it. Be equipped!


About Jude Terna Ayua

JUDE TERNA AYUA is a Lawyer, Artist, Author and Entrepreneur, passionate about helping people find their purpose and live fulfilling lives. His core values are: diligence, honesty, attention to details, hard working, and excellence. He has a strong desire for leadership and innovation, making impact and influencing people positively. He is the Convener of 'Finding Purpose W/Jude Ayua', a mentoring group on Facebook. He is the owner and Creative Director of Jay Graphix. Jude is a patriotic Nigerian, who inspires others through his online campaign, #keephopealive, run every October 1, the first of which took place in 2020. He develops content and edits for authors, magazines, and other publishing media. His first book, FINDING PURPOSE was published in September, 2020. He acquired his Law Degree in 2019 from Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, and graduated from the Nigerian Law School, Lagos Campus in 2021. In 2019, Jude led a team of three from his Faculty, who emerged the pioneer 1st prize winners in the Nigerian Copyright Commission National Moot Competition. His legal career is driven towards Intellectual Property, Information Technology, Alternative Dispute Resolution and Virtual Practice. He is an accredited Commercial Mediator with Commercial Intermediaries, and a currently a National Youth Service Corps member in Oyo state, working as Associate with Femi Johnson Chambers, Ibadan.