This is the third installment of the Legal Hermit’s law school experience. In this installment, he writes about what he experienced from the beginning to the end.
THE FIRST TERM BEGINS; THE INDUCTION WEEK & THE MOOT AND MOCK TRIALS
The 21st of October 2013 was the to the 25th of October 2013 was the registration period, but as it is the practice in Nigeria there were still so many students who were still just starting the registration process and this is excluding the Bar Part I students.
The week after the registration week was the induction week. The induction week was supposed to be used to expose us, the aspirants to the Nigerian Bar, about the practice of law before we get ejected into the legal labour market the following year after our Call to Bar ceremony. The induction week was actually really interesting for me because I got a chance to see the Director General of the Nigerian Legal Aid Council who spoke to us about the opportunities abound in taking up pro bono cases as well as offering legal aid to those in need.
A Senior Advocate, who was also a former Attorney General of the Federation, was invited to speak to us. After, the Director General of the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) was invited to speak to us about the Nigerian copyright terrain. He sent his representative who apologised for his absence. The Nigerian Copyright Commission’s talk was basically focused on the issue of Piracy and the challenges the Commission is facing in tackling same.
The school head Librarian came to address the students on the use of the school Library. The head of the school Health centre also showed up to address the students on the issue of free health care available to the students both within and outside the school courtesy of a National Health Insurance Scheme the school took out on behalf of all the law school students.
The Head Nurse (or are they the ones called Matrons?) also came to address the students, especially the female ones who are heavily pregnant, on the availability of good facilities if the need ever arises and in the event of child birth they should not hesitate to come to the health centre.
Thereafter, every other part of the school was introduced to the students along with the students and class schedule. Ha, before I forget. How can I even forget? It was also during the induction week that we students were taught ‘how to dine’ and about how many Law School Dinners we are expected to eat. It was a little awkward to see two lecturers teach a big class of 1700 students how to dine with illustrations. One of the lecturers actually dined in front of us. My issue with that is the teaching of how to dine only happened ONCE. For the majority who have never used a fork and knife before or cannot even comprehend what forks and knifes are doing on a dining table this ‘how to dine’ class was a long one.
Although the induction week was really interesting, it was quite saddening that the school did not even take out the time to speak to the students about the internet facilities in the school, if there was any and if there wasn’t, if any was going to be provided. I mean access to the internet is now a first world problem, so many lives depend on this. Our Right to Life is at stake here.
A week after the induction week, the school plunged the students into compulsory Moot and Mock trials preparations. Good lord, the Moot and Mock trials (wherever I use ‘moot trials’ or ‘mock trials’ interchangeably I am referring to the same thing) was the start of the real law school stress. It was during this period that many students had the opportunity to really intermingle with one another while also trying to create new alliances and friends and acquaintances, and oh well some made enemies too.
The Moot Trials week was quite funny. Recall I said earlier that this was a chance to mix and relate with people, like the society will gladly tell you, ‘no man is an island’, but society refused to warn the explorers of different ‘islands’ that ‘islands’ differ, and you don’t treat two ‘islands’ the same way. I mean there were so many people who had no idea what it means to relate with people or even how to relate with other people amicably and share ideas. At a point, you’d just hear people start having a mini civil war for no apparent reason and you’d just think to yourself “This escalated quickly”.
Anyway, the Moot Trials started with students being grouped into two primary groups; Civil and Criminal. Students were then subdivided into groups according to their Registration Numbers. Each subdivided group had assigned to it at least two lecturers who managed the students and gave proper guidance and tutoring on how to successfully carry out the Moot Trials task.
The first day of the Moot Trials week, we were given the scenario and addressed by the lecturer in charge of the subgroup who asked us to pick our claimant and defence counsels. I was in the Civil Moot Trial Group. After the address by the lecturer, my group members got to work trying to organise themselves and making sure that we did our best. Before the lecturer left, he informed us of the court processes we were to draft and how to initiate and commence a civil suit and also how we should arrange our court in order to conduct our Moot Trials rehearsal. Apparently we were going to go the whole nine yards of having a proper court with all things in furtherance of that. Thankfully, it wasn’t a bore.
After the lecturer dismissed himself, my group members argued for minutes… naaah for an hour actually because they were mostly arguing about things that either aren’t rocket science or about things said by another person which has already been said before but in another way. It was during my encounter with my group members that I realised that many people only listen to you but a lot do not actually understand the things said. This was frustrating to me because we had to participate and attendance had to be signed, and more time spent arguing meant more time wasted. AND THEN $%@! BECAME REAL!
The Moot Trials week ended and then lectures started properly. Lectures in the Law School are designed in such a way that each day has a particular course assigned to it, and we offer five courses which are:
1. Criminal Litigation
2. Civil Litigation
3. Property Law Practice
4. Corporate Law Practice and
5. Law in Practice (Legal and Professional Ethics)
These five courses are however taken each day of the week with different topics being treated each week. No topic is taught to the students except it would be asked in the Bar Finals Examination, hence students are always advised to read everything taught them in class from ‘pali to pali’. And oh, there is so much legal drafting and legal procedures to be learnt, I mean you have to know how to fill a probate form, or how to draft a company Board Resolution or how to draft a court process or how draft a simple deed. In a nutshell, it is a whole lot of information one has to take in. However, if a student should follow the Course Outcomes for each of the topics to be treated each week, then they will have no problem with the Bar Finals examinations. At least you would not have to write it again.
The lectures were more of breeze and I was a loyal attendant of the House of Lords, which is that part of the class where those who come late to class, the noisy folks, the unbothered about school folks and those who just want to disappear in the crowd sit. The House of Lords was at the back of the lecture hall. I usually sit at the House of Lords because of it was just convenient and there was no random guy or girl distracting me with his/her “I too Know” behaviour, and moreover a lot of people go class early so they hug all the good seats in front and leave the better seats at the back for those of us who actually do recognise the usefulness of these seats.
Class starts in Abuja by 9AM and ends by 1:30PM, and sometimes 2PM, in other campuses like Lagos class starts by 8AM and ends by 4PM. The lecture time in the different campuses differ, and hopefully it will become uniform in the future. The Abuja campus has changed and is now similar to the lecturing times of the Lagos campus.
THE WELCOME COCKTAIL AND THE BONFIRE NIGHT
Even with all the madness that was going on, the school organised a Welcome Cocktail for the students and a bonfire night. In my opinion, the bonfire night was more turnt up than the Welcome Cocktail. I guess it was because I had more fun at the bonfire night dancing with the weird friends I fortunately made and the drinks shared.
1st LAW DINNER, & THE CHRISTMAS BREAK
We started lectures mid November 2013, and by the second week of December we were on our Christmas break. Before the break, we met the outgoing Director General of the Nigerian Law School. The new Director General also graced us with his presence. We also had our first Law Dinner during this period. It was largely a period you’d want to use a remote to fast-forward.
THE SECOND TERM BEGINS, THE END OF LECTURES AND THE 2ND LAW DINNER.
By the second week of December 2013, we were already on holiday to resume the first week of January 2014. Lectures ended April 2014. During the period of January to April 2014, we were already delving deeply into the whole drafting legal agreements and court processes.
We ate the Second Law dinner and also during this period we wrote our first Pre-Bar Exams. Towards the month of April 2014, many of the students were already so tired and stressed and luckily for us it was time to Students to go for the Externship Programme where each student is attached to a court which is closest to his/her place of residence. I especially was looking forward to seeing Lagos again, because I had not been to Lagos for 6 months. Iit was like I was in a rehab where I was being rehabilitated for the ‘Lagos Syndrome’.
There is traffic in Abuja oh, but it’s not like Lagos. No traffic in Nigeria can compare to Lagos traffic and I missed that. I know it’s weird but I missed it so much so I was one of the many students who were looking forward to getting back to that Lagos zone again. Anyway after the Pre-Bar Exams we wrote, which by the way scared me crazy, because if it was used as our continuous assessment I would be owing the law school marks (‘-‘ ) (._.) ( ._.) ( *.*).
But Thank God for the Bar Finals proper, I know I am not owing law school marks now :D. So after the Pre-Bar in April 2014, we were dismissed for the Externship programme and I travelled back to Lagos by road and I was napping for the most part of the journey, but the trip from Lagos to Abuja was much more fun because the bus I came with was organised by students and was filled with my class mates and all was in good spirit except the driver of the bus.
Even though this was an opportunity to relax and be less pressurised and turn up, but HAAAAYYYYY!!!!! Where was the time to be pressurised or even turn up anywhere? Sleeping became irregular, nightmares became recurrent (lool, I am not kidding though) and only the fast approaching Bar Finals Examination could do that. The only way to get through this period was basically to prepare for the exams.
The externship programme started on the 29th of April 2014 to the 11th of July 2014, it was a long three months period, within which we spent 7 weeks in court and 4 weeks in Law Firms. I did my externship at a Magistrates’ Court in Ikeja, and the law office I was attached to was also located in Ikeja. During this externship period I made sure I studied really hard for the exams because when school was in session there was really no time for me as a person to study to my satisfaction. I could only prepare for the next class but during the externship period I could read and study and coupled with what I saw in Court, it was really easy. Even the Law Office attachment also played a paramount role in my revision.
THIRD TERM BEGINS, PORTFOLIO ASSESSMENT, & BAR FINALS FRENZY
By 13th of July 2014, I was back in school because the last part of the programme was starting 14th of July 2014. I came back to Abuja by road again. I am starting to like this road business. That was the least of my worries because the Bar Finals exam was just few weeks to go, and then there was this Externship Portfolio Assessment of the students which involves the making of a PowerPoint Presentation of the key parts of the externship according to a guideline given to us in the Students Externship Handbook. I did my portfolio assessment with ease. Thankfully, the school organised revision classes for the students and then we had another set of Moot Trials again. This time we had real judges presiding over the trials, unlike the first moot trials we had when we had students presiding as judges.
After the Moot Trials we wrote another Pre bar exam, and I did fairly well in this one and it gave me hope I would not fail the Bar Final Examination. By the second week of August we were already in the mood for our examination which started on the 16th of August 2014, but before the 16th of August we were given Examination Numbers which we were to use for our examination.
We started exams with the Multiple Choice Questions popularly called MCQ, and it was 20 questions each from the five courses we offer and we are supposed to answer same in 50 minutes, this exam was a task. After the MCQ which was on Saturday, the week following was for the essays and each course was fixed for each day starting from the 18th to end on the 22nd of August 2014. God knows I have not written a more testing examination; the exam started with a bang and ended with so little drama. After every exam you will see most of the students walking out of the exam hall looking so sober like they are coming out of a funeral home, it was always so funny to me. And then the part I did not exactly like about the exam was the After Exam Press Conferences you see people holding outside the examination hall. Students would be talking about the answers to each of the questions which has a way of destabilising a fickle person into feeling he/she has failed if what that person wrote is not the same with what they have decided the answer is. I always used to just walk to my hostel immediately I step out of the exam hall. I remember I used to have a ritual of some sort, every time I leave the exam hall and I’m walking away from the different press conferences holding outside the examination hall, I rush to the nearest shop to by myself a sachet of Capri Sonne for the pain and mental torture I went through in the examination hall.
The examination apart from the MCQ was always for the duration of 3 hours; from 3PM to 6PM every day. I do not want to rewrite that examination again and I do not pray anyone will have to do it again because it was not fun. I along with the other students wrote my last paper on Friday 22nd of August 2014 and the last paper was Law in Practice. We were dreading this paper and it turned out to be the one students loved the most. Even I was happy after the paper.
EXAM ENDS, THE CLOSING COCKTAIL, & SAYING FAREWELL TO THE SCHOOL AND FRIENDS
The last day of the exam was also the day of the closing cocktail. I am not sure but I think after examination there is supposed to be a Closing cocktail and this one we had was not bad. The most interesting part was the pictures I took with my friends. I took a last tour of the school then went to my room to pack my stuff because we were to leave the hostel on the 23rd of August 2014.
People were and are still so happy. I can still see (as I am typing this long dissertation) how my mates were hugging one another gleefully. I even got my own fair share of hugs and kisses from the females *grins*. It was a good night: D.
I travelled back to Lagos by road. Yes, again. This time I journeyed alone as a student of the law school but with random Nigerians I may never see again but it was interesting still. My bus was nearly even robbed on the Kogi-Ondo State express way. Oh well. Thank God for the prompt reaction of the Nigerian Soldiers and the MOPOL who were within the vicinity.
I am home now.
FREEDOM AT LAST… OH WAIT, RESULTS ARE NOT OUT YET 😥
Do you remember when African Countries were getting their rights to self-determination i.e. Independence in the 50s and 60s? Well these countries do not actually know what it means to be free, trust me being free is going to the Nigerian Law School for 10 months without a chance to have a life of your own until you write the Bar Final Exams and mind you, you just do not have to write the exams, you MUST PASS THESE EXAMS or else, FREEDOM WILL STILL BE A MYTH!!!!!!
I am sorry for the noise (*_*), but haaaaaay!!!!!!!! The Nigerian Law School was an experience, one I cannot ever forget. I thought I was actually free, till I started having after exams nightmares about missing an exam I have already written! SMH. I have a feeling this nightmares will stop when I eventually see my result. Regardless of whatever, I pray my mates do really well in the examination. I also do wish them all the best in Life. I hope to see you all in November at the Call to Bar ceremony. And those who intend coming to the law school in future, please do not be scared because law school is actually pretty easy ask NaijaBrit88, she will tell you. Thank you all for reading and thank you NaijaBrit88 for posting.
I don’t know how to say goodbye in Igbo (`-`)
I don’t know how in Hausa too. ($_$)
Hasta la vista
Nimen Zai Jian
That’s goodbye in Chinese 😀
Thank you to The Legal Hermit for sharing his law school experience better than I would have. It’s not easy to summarise Bar 2. Don’t mind him with ask NaijaBrit88, law school is easy. Read from the beginning! If you don’t, towards the exam time, you’ll be sweating like a Christmas chicken in the oven. I didn’t find it as bad as I thought it would be. If I write a post about the exams alone, it will be long. All I can say is, NA WA OH!!!! Questions had subs or as I would call them BABIES! E.g. 1 a b c d e f g h i j etc. Towards the end I got tired. I guess the point is that the examiners don’t want long answers. They want short and sweet answers that are straight to the point. Principle and case law.
He didn’t even add that we took him out on his birthday. Smh. Lol! I had a few too many drinks so the next day it felt like I had malaria. He didn’t mention the fun trips to Lovitoz where we had fun times!
By the way “ndo” is sorry in Igbo. Lol! I’m not even going to comment on the Hausa.
The exam period was sonething else. I think a lot of people walked out of the Property Law Practice exam confused. I know I did! Corporate Law Practice was like a foreign language. Each exam has 6 questions. 1 and 4 are compulsory. 2 other questions are to be attempted. Law in Practice was the only exception. Only four questions were in the exam and all were compulsory. The first three questions were under Part A and the last three were under part B. Each part is to be answered in a separate booklet. Two are given. Each question is to be answered on a new page. I loooved looved looooooved LIP! That was hands down the best exam! You have to be careful with MCQ and please practice before you do the exam. It is possible for people to not answer all of the questions. 100 questions in 50 minutes is not easy. I didn’t have time to go over everything and left out a few.
Hermit, I was part of the people doing Post Exam conferences so biko go away! I didn’t go through all of the questions! Just a few. I don’t know who you were looking at but most of the law students looked fine after the exams. 🙂
The cocktail where Hermit was so happy collecting hugs from females was ok. I snubbed it in the beginning but I enjoyed it.
Don’t mind the Hermit. I don’t know how he’s having nightmares from the exams. This guy covered all courses before he entered that exam hall. I covered most. We’ll do well.
Good luck to everyone in the 2013/14 Bar II set. I pray we pass and we all get called to the Bar.