Third Place In Essay Writing Competition: The battle between oral and written legal advocacy (and where I stand) by Akorfa Dawson

“You need to polish your public speaking a great deal, or you won’t be a good lawyer.”

But, when I read the law reports, I understand what is being communicated. I don’t even have to listen to the lawyers and judges speak. Of course, I only think this to myself. I can’t even find my voice to retort.

“Yes, Da,” I respond, to end the conversation so I can return to my room to write. In the world I am creating, the protagonist is a confident orator, nothing like the diffident writer who would rather hide behind her written words.

I’m the girl who would go to the salon and all through the process, knowing very well that what the hairdressers are doing on my head is nothing like the hairstyle I showed them, would keep quiet and suffer. The onset of the pandemic worsened my plight. Now that COVID-19 has necessitated the wearing of nose masks, I’m constantly battling with, “Speak up, I can’t hear you”.

A friend I got back in touch with recently was shocked when I told him I was reading law. “You can’t even speak for yourself,” he told me bluntly. “How can you speak for others?”

I didn’t tell him that I had found my way around law school: evading moot court competitions and never answering questions in class unless I was unlucky enough to be called by a lecturer who saw my name on the class list. It’s just a year more. I can survive! But then, this is not the end. The real deal awaits me. I shudder at the thought of that course called Advocacy I would have to read at the Ghana School of Law. How do I wriggle my way through that?

We don’t all have to advocate orally, do we? Were you there when Date-Bah was ruling in NHTC v Antwi? Yet, you have read his written submission, and now you can rattle the meaning of a contract. Even better, practising the law is not a one-man show. I’m getting myself a partner. I’d do the backstage work while Partner speaks on behalf of our client. With my written submission, I’ve already paved the way. Go top it up for us with your excellent oratory skills.

My goal is to be a Barrister at Law and Solicitor of the Supreme Court (emphasis on the solicitor, mine)!