Law School in Nigeria: 7 Hidden Truths

by Figure Lawrence
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“Law” is very fascinating. The powerful course that influences the fate of certain people, especially criminals. Having so many friends who are in the field, I always seem to find my peers discussing some things that I can’t relate to. That wasn’t always pleasant, and it got worse after graduation when they went to law school. Law school in Nigeria is a compulsory 9-month education programme for all aspiring lawyers that have completed university education.

In an attempt to relate better with my friends, I learnt 7 things you probably did not know about  Law school in Nigeria. So, if you’re planning to go to law school or to study law in university, stick around till the end. Information is power.

Also, if you are purely curious about what happens in law school in Nigeria, like what’s so special about it anyway. This is for you too.

7 things you should know about law school in Nigeria

  1. Environment

Let’s kick off with the first thing you’ll see. The environment of an average law school in Nigeria is different from most learning facilities, and not in a good way. It is a stretch from the university where you enjoy your lectures, go home, and relax in the comfort of your room. A friend mentioned that the mosquitoes in her law school which shall remain nameless were as powerful as vampires. That cracked me up but since we live in Nigeria, such things don’t surprise us. That’s just one thing.

The registration process on arrival to law school in Nigeria is a different burden that I feel should be improved. I mean, what’s the point of filling out 20 forms to register one person? A few people also agreed that everything seemed organised but in a chaotic way. Like they understood what to do because the process was clearly explained, but it was still too much. However, no matter how bad your experience is from the first day to the last, you still get what you came for. Advanced knowledge and law practitioner experience in your palms.

  1. Mode of dressing in Nigerian law school

Studying law in the university require students to wear formal white and black outfits, with traditional attires permitted on Fridays. Almost everybody knows this.

Law school in Nigeria requires that you take that a step further. Average corporate black and white wears aren’t at all acceptable. As a girl, you can’t just wear your camisole and jacket. As a boy, you can’t wear your trousers and well-ironed shirt. You have to compliment both with blazers. All-day and every day of your time in the Nigerian law school. You’re also not allowed to wear anything with black and white stripes.

If you’re not a fan of the colour black, you better start opening your heart to it.

  1. Style of Learning in a Nigerian law school

One major difference in the life of a law student in university and in law school is the learning style. I was very attentive while learning about this part and I’m honestly fascinated. Generally, the style of learning in law school in Nigeria is very intentional and straightforward.

Unlike universities, you don’t have to worry about impressing lecturers by answering questions in class. Here, you stick to what you have from your lecture. Lecturers in law school are less forthcoming with the dynamic process of learning. They teach a topic and do not go back to it. To pass, you just have to read.

The bar exam is like in high school where you have your exams back-to-back and then it’s over. Typically, it lasts for a whole week with no breaks in-between days.

The minimal use of a computerized system of learning has its disadvantages. It leads to an overload of papered notes, dragging of lectures, over-emphasis on certain topics and over-glorification of personal opinion of lecturers.

Here’s a pro tip if you’re about to go to Nigerian law school. Read before and after lectures. Those that have passed through the system agree that this is the magic success formula. It saves you from overload during exam periods where exam dates are clustered. 

  1. View of others

One reoccurring comment I get from my friends in Law school was about the views of others about law school. A lot of people mentioned that they feel the experience in law school and the profession as a whole is overrated. Attending law school in Nigeria seemed to be more exciting for their family and relatives than it was for them. I couldn’t find a particular reason for this opinion, but I’m sure it is related to the fact that law has very low job satisfaction ratings. Both on national and global levels. It also has high rates of burnout. A huge aspect of the field is monotonous. And there’s the fact that some secretarial duties require a law degree for acceptance.

NB:  Nigerian law school fees are significantly lower than other places racking at roughly N300,000 except for all personal expenses. 

  1. Learning does not end After the call to bar

This is a point that a good number of people wished they knew before going to law school in Nigeria. Some of them get upset at the time it takes for their careers to kick off. Four years in the university, one year in law school and you hear that there’s something called tutelage that lasts two to three years? That’s not the path they envisaged for their dream job.

That’s not all.

Most of them also find out that what you learn in university and law school isn’t enough for the real world. This then highlights why you must invest in tutelage in an established law firm. This is recommended before establishing one’s law firm. Jumping headfirst without post-law school experience is a recipe for disaster in most cases. So, take your time to get the necessary work experience as a student before you start building your own law empire.

  1. Code of conduct in Nigerian law school

Not many people know that legal practitioners live by a broadly defined code; the RCP or rules of professional conduct. These rules regulate their conduct and activities.

Law students are expected to have developed a liking to these rules right from university. They are expected to live by them from then on to enter into any law school in Nigeria.

For legal practitioners, going against the rules in the RCP have some serious consequences. Common consequences are debarring and stripping of the lawyer title for some time or for life.

  1. After the call to bar

Ah yes! The dream moment for any aspiring lawyer at that point. The call to bar. Everything seems to have worked out and is perfect. But is it?

I spoke to a gaggle of veteran lawyers and the response I got wasn’t what I expected.  I learnt that being a lawyer does not guarantee good-paying jobs. Some said TV shows lie about what the law profession really is.

Others say that law firms in Nigeria need to up their game concerning tutelage. The culture of using newly graduated lawyers as clerks, and mostly without pay is killing the profession.

Yet, some pointed out that patience is going to be your best friend both in Nigerian law school and as an established lawyer. This is because it may take time for the proper monetization and jobs to reveal themselves.

Another pro tip from a lawyer to aspiring lawyers. Make non-lawyer friends in the university before law school. These are most likely to be your potential clients in the future.

In conclusion

The journey to being a lawyer in Nigeria isn’t the jolliest of paths. Though it remains a fun and interesting encounter to all those who take it. This inside information about law school in Nigeria is one of the factors to consider before choosing law as your dream course

A humble plea from me, if you have lawyer friends, don’t prompt them to offer their services for free.

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About Author

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Figure Lawrence
Figure Lawrence is a creative thinker, multi niched professional writer, content creator, brand influencer and all round cool guy.

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