Pros and Cons of Working in Ministry of Justice


Are you a Law Student or a young Lawyer?

If you're contemplating of working in your State or Federal Ministry of Justice, read this post before you do or you decide not to do anymore.

Image of side view of the Oyo State Ministry of Justice taken on 28 September 2021 by this writer

I spent 11 years in my State Ministry of Justice before I disengaged in 2017 and so, when I talk about working in Ministry of Justice, you should listen to me.

I rose from State Counsel to Chief State Counsel (GL.13) and my promotion to Assistant Director (which was due before I left) may still be announced in no distant time.

Every State in Nigeria has its own Ministry of Justice and then, there is the Federal Ministry of Justice, Abuja where any Nigerian Lawyer can work irrespective of his or her State of origin.

Almost all State Ministries of Justice only employ their indigenes except Lagos State.

State Ministry of Justice is the biggest Law Office in every State in terms of the number of Lawyers working there.

State Ministry of Justice is headed by the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice (usually shortened as AG) and assisted by the Solicitor-General and Permanent Secretary (SG & PS).

AG is the political head of the Ministry, while the SG & PS is the career head of all Lawyers and non-lawyers working there.

An average Ministry of Justice has the following departments – 1. Directorate of Public Prosecutions, 2. Department of Civil Litigation and Advisory Services, and 3. Department of Legal Drafting and Parliamentary Counseling.

Some other departments such as the Office of Public Defenders, Mediation Centre, and Department of General Administration may be found in some States, depending on their needs or peculiarities of each State.

Enough of introduction, the question that should be asked and be answered is - what are the merits and demerits of working in Ministry of Justice?

As I provide answers to this question, I'll also be throwing light on what it entails to work in Ministry of Justice.


1. Security of Employment - as a Government employee, your employment cannot be terminated without following the laid down procedures. This is not the case in private sector where a person's job may be terminated without any prior notice and even if the termination is found to be wrongful, a victim is only entitled to compensation and not reinstatement.

2. Regular Payment of Salaries - most States in Nigeria pay salaries of their workers regularly and those who owe, still pay arrears over a period of time.

3. Capacity Building Opportunities - many States also sponsor their Lawyers to attend different trainings and workshops which help to enhance their capacity.

As a Government Lawyer, I attended many workshops and conferences mainly within the country.

Most private employers of Lawyers do not add periodical training of their employees to their responsibilities.

4. Working Hours - like other civil or public servants, a Lawyer working in Ministry of Justice has 8am to 4pm to do his or her job.

However, some readers may not want to see this as an advantage. I think that if it's considered in relation to some other beneficial use one can put the rest hours of the day, for me, it's a benefit.

I was able to do research and write books because of the less stressful working hours.

In some private Law Offices or companies, a Lawyer may resume as early as 7am and work till 8pm. This happens mostly in litigation firms.

5. Opportunity to Learn - given that a typical Ministry of Justice has hundreds of files to attend to, this gives Lawyers working there the opportunity to learn very widely and be able to handle many matters which some of their colleagues outside may not have.

6. Opportunity for Gratuity and Pension - except States that have adopted the Contributory Pension System, a Government Lawyer who retires at 60 years of age or 35 years in service is entitled to be paid millions of naira as gratuity and monthly pension for life.

One who spends a minimum of ten years is equally entitled to same but the amount may be less compared to those who spend longer period in service.

I know that Lawyers working with the Federal Ministry of Justice are on the Contributory Pension System which is also good.

Most (if not all) Law Offices in Nigeria (apart from companies or other corporate entities) do not pay either gratuity or pension to their Lawyers. All that a Lawyer is entitled to is the monthly salary.

Only a negligible number of Law Offices subscribes to the Contributory Pension System and their faithful remittance of deductions cannot be assured.

The above are the common benefits of working in Ministry of Justice. Some other benefits may exist which are peculiar to specific locations and because they do not represent the story of a Government Lawyer everywhere, I think there is no need to include them.

For instance, annual payment of robe allowance is another gain of working in Ministry of Justice but I'm not sure if majority of Government Lawyers (State Counsel) enjoy that.

In some States, a Government Lawyer may be paid as much as N800k at once as robe allowance, though it depends on the number of years that one has spent in the service. Mine was close to N600k before I left and by now, my mates may be collecting about N700k or a little more.

In my subsequent post, I will write on the CONS of working in Ministry of Justice, based on my own perspective.