Tool Kits For Aspirants To The Nigerian Bar by Ehiwe O. Sam
The path to excellence starts with the belief and conviction that the prize at the end of the journey is achievable. For about two years, I have mentored and counselled law school students, law undergraduates and interns. In the few years of my interactions with them, I have discovered that within every young aspiring lawyer lies so much potential to achieve whatever they imagine and conceive within, so long as they have the conviction, determination, discipline and courage to achieve that goal.
In the course of my interactions with and mentorship of these law school students, I have identified some key points that every law school student must take into consideration if they must succeed and graduate excellently from the law school, irrespective of the campus they were posted to. One of my mentees, who was personally assigned to me for mentorship during his externship, followed these principles, rigorous as they were, and graduated with a first class and as the overall best graduating student from the law school in his set. These are the principles you must imbibe as a law school student currently undergoing the one-year program;
- Immediately come up with a study plan – The first step to be taken soon after resumption is to create a timetable, a reading timetable that will guide you. This will, at one swoop, clear off the confusion that usually occur at resumption.Which study strategies have worked for you in the past? Maybe in the University! Which have not? How do you want to study for a particular course? You can get advice from senior colleagues who have excellently graduated from the law school.
- Study on the move – Ensure you learn new materials after each lecture. If you don’t get it, take the time to figure it out right away. Ask a classmate or jot down your question and ask your lecturer the next day. Study new materials as if there will be a quiz on it in the next class. These new materials should however conform with what the law school has recommended for you. For example, you are not expected to practice the mode of drafting criminal charges in China when it is clear, and expressly too, that your course outline is restricted to Lagos and Abuja jurisdiction.
- Practice self-discipline & form habits – If there is a task to be done, as Nike would say, just do it!If you have a text to read, set a time to do it, and when that time finally comes, get down and do it. Don’t hem and haw (thanks to the author of ‘Who moved my cheese) or argue or bargain with yourself.
- Avoid procrastination! – Whilst there will be times when you would been mentally exhausted, that should however not give room for procrastination. Rest is essential, but you must not do tomorrow, what you can do today. I can get up early tomorrow morning and do it” or “It’s going to take me too long; I can’t start that tonight!” Don’t make excuses, just do it! Like Nike, just do it anyways!
- Review notes frequently – At the lawschool, notes taken in class are very important. They form the fulcrum or base for all your studies as the serve as guide to you. For example, in civil litigation, the High Court of Lagos State (Civil Procedure) Rules 2019 which is now applicable in the Lagos State High Court has changed, to a very great extent, the trajectory of most civil litigation textbooks. Although the substance in most cases remain the same, the rules have changed, and you will be doing yourself a disservice to rely wholly on those outdated textbooks without recourse to the lecturers. The importance of taking notes in class cannot be over emphasized.
- Participate actively in class–This is not necessarily measured by the number of times you raise up your hand to speak in class. It revolves around staying awake, taking good notes, thinking through the material being presented, and making a note of material that is confusing or any questions you have. Where there are complex areas that you don’t understand, don’t be afraid to speak up in class. Your classmates may conclude that you are showing off, but that must not deter you.
- Keep a positive attitude – Maintain constant confidence in your abilities and try to relax! Avoid anxiety by all possible means. Fear and anxiety are not good for health, and it needs not be said that good health is key to your overall success at the bar finals. Post positive and encouraging messages in your study space. If you are worried about something, write it down and set it aside to be taken care of later. Reach out to senior colleagues as mentors and don’t get too busy with irrelevancies.
The above principles are keys to excellence and if complied with, will in no small measure bring about good success and an outstanding performance. The law school is a place many people choose to dread because of the many myths they have heard. It will however be of great advantage to you if you discard those myths, shun anxiety and focus on your abilities.
Ehiwe O. Sam is a Lagos Based Lawyer and co-founder of Legal Dilemmas, a mentorship group that has mentored over 1000 aspirants to the bar and undergraduates, many of whom are now practicing lawyers. He can be reached on email@example.com or 08138354796Call Bridget Edokwe Esq on 08060798767 or send your email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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