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ABSTRACT

The topic ‘Life After
Law School: Setting Up the Right Path
as a Law Student’
is robust, thus raising the question of whether one is to
dabble into limited or full discussion of lawyers’ post law school life ad
infinitum. However, having special consideration to the spectators, it is sine
qua none to limit the discussion to the immediate phase of lawyers’ post law
school life. It is necessary to discuss the topic under the following
sub-headings;

1.    
Unsuccessful
candidates

2.    
Successful
candidates

3.    
New
wig and National Youth Service

4.    
Planning
for the future

5.    
Building
relationships/setting the right path

6.    
Living
the expected life in future

 

1.   UNSUCCESSFUL CANDIDATES

We must accept the aphoristic statement that ‘Failure is not
a topic, it is a reality’.  At least
twenty per cent of candidates fail bar final examination annually. Suffice to
say, not everyone that attends Law School comes out successful. Failure is the
end product of one’s negligence to act promptly and reasonably. Failure at Law
School is not measured by a candidate’s level of intellectual capacity. It is
necessitated by plethora factors like shared ignorance, lackadaisical
dispositions and natural phenomenon, inter alia.

It is pertinent to emphasize that Law School courses are
divided into five i.e. Corporate Law Practice, Civil Litigation, Professional
Ethics, Property Law Practice and Criminal Litigation. These courses carry
equal marks and comprises of about twenty topics each. The examination is
divided into multiple choice questions of hundred questions and theory. The
theory comprises of six questions per course, question one and four are usually
compulsory.  To pass successfully, a
student must score at least 45 marks in all the courses. If a student fails one
course he must go back to rewrite it and pass before he can be qualified for
Call to Bar. If a student fails two or more courses he must rewrite all five
courses before being Called to Bar. Thus a student that scored 80 marks in four
courses and 44 marks in one course is disqualified from Call to Bar (see 2019
Law School marking scheme). Resit examination is usually conducted in April for
those that failed bar final. Also a student will graduate with a pass if he
makes A in four course and E in one course. Suffice to say, Law School uses the
lowest grading system to assess students. Therefore, to pass, a student must be
meticulous, dedicated, open-minded and disciplined. Law school is easier in
terms of learning than the University, but the work load will exert your
hippocampus to the extreme.

Peradventure, LIFE AFTER LAW SCHOOL sufficed indelible
failure for the unsuccessful ones. Post Law School life has left some persons
as Nigerian Law School notorious customers as they register for resit
examination annually.  It is not about
attending Law School but about your determination to come out successful. This
interaction is timely for you to prepare ahead of time in order to avoid the
reality of failing bar final. Life after Law School is full of regret and
nightmare for this class of candidates resulting in suicide and ambition
assassination. The only way to avoid the reality of failing bar final is to READ, READ AND READ.

2.   SUCCESSFUL CANDIDATES

No doubt the Call to Bar experience is one of the most
important moment for a successful candidate, even though it comes with
unavoidable stress for the celebrant. The pertinent question is what next? Some
new wigs are from wealthy homes so their task is just to get the certificate
and the stage is set for them to sail. Also certain set of new wigs will go
ahead to take over the law practice business from their parents.  Few new wigs attended Law School to add the
prefix “BARRISTER” to their names because they are wealthy and maybe old.
However, average new wigs are the first lawyers in their family with no
connection amidst impecuniosity. You will surely fall into one of these
aforementioned categories.

Our focus will be on the later set of new wigs. These are the
ones that will begin to think of the class A Law Firms for employment
especially to earn good remuneration. Their problem will be compounded if they
did not make at least Second Class Upper Division from the University and the
Nigerian Law School. You need good result, good profile and good attitude to
work in Class A Law Firms. However, the criteria can be abrogated if you have
the right connection. Thus without connection you must be qualified and be
prepared to write and pass test on areas unrelated to law (LSAT and GMAT) in
order to get a big pay. Small and big firms may reject you not because you are
not qualified but for lack of space. You may even turn down several job offers
because of low wage.

You cannot be a wealthy lawyer in rural and suburban areas
but you may start from there. Whether or not you want to work in a big firm,
any new wig that is willing to go into full litigation must decide on suitable
city to sojourn. Lagos and Kano are notorious cities for booming commercial and
corporate practice while Abuja is a good city for estate management because it
is a developing city. Port Harcourt is the best city for a new wig willing to
specialize in Oil and Gas, Commercial and General Law Practice. Please do not
return to your home town/village to start law practice except you want to be
Father Christmas and obtain notoriety in pro bono while anticipating your
reward in heaven. You will agree with me that coming out successful is not
assurance for a better or successful life but an avenue to join the race for
survival and excellence in the legal profession or elsewhere, personal
development, finding the right spouse for those that are not married, bearing
family burden, inter alia. Maybe you are creating beautiful imagination on how
to be a wealthy lawyer after Call to Bar; such imaginations are like mirage
because the closer you go, the farther it appears. You must be ready to accept
disappointments, rejections and several No’s irrespective of the content of
your resume but with patience and right work the Yes will come. NEVER GIVE UP because doing so will
tantamount to ambition assassination.

3.    
NEW WIG AND NATIONAL YOUTH SERVICE

After law school, some lawyers go for NYSC immediately. You
maybe posted to a location you never anticipated. You may have a job offer in
Lagos, NYSC may send you to Yobe. The state coordinator will appeal to your
conscience to serve in Yobe and shun relocation to Lagos. Do not be tempted to
listen to anybody apart from your inner voice. Only you know what you want and
where you are going. Relocation is legal, redeploy to a state of your choice
where accommodation, feeding, transportation and other necessaries would not
empty your pocket and push you into avoidable debt and begging. I was posted to
Ekiti State and my Primary Place of Assignment (PPA) was Ekiti State
University. The University was not ready to provide accommodation and monthly
stipends. After camping, almost all the lawyers relocated because no law firm
in Ekiti was ready to pay corp members reasonable amount. I relocated to Abuja;
it was difficult to find a firm because of late redeployment. If you must
relocate do it within a reasonable time. Develop the culture of saving because
after NYSC your firm may not retain you as other corp members will be waiting
to take your seat. You need money while moving around to look for a firm. Save,
save and save for the post NYSC days.

4.  
PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE

After Law School, people will add the prefix ‘Barrister’ to
your name but nothing will change about who you are. You must plan your life
because failure to plan is suicidal to one’s ambition. I started planning to
serve in Abuja while in the University. The end product of lack of planning is
indecision, listen to me, ‘indecision is a diseases that can alter your
ambition’. The right time to plan your life is now. The University’s
environment is a simulation of the circular world. Do not make plans that are
difficult to amend; your plans should be flexible. Also, plan for alternatives.

 

5. BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS

Building good relationships is not the same thing as making
friends and begging to be noticed by those in authorities.  Some people are annoying to you, same way you
are a nuisance to others. Even supreme beings have enemies (God and Satan are
not friends). However you cannot hate everyone. Avoid the temptation of
confronting your haters at every slightest provocation. If you pray for your
enemies to die, you may die first because you are someone’s enemy; who knows if
they are making the same supplication against you. Forgiveness is a natural
panacea for a happy living.

Notably, I am not a preacher; the rationale for the
penultimate paragraph is predicated on my personal experience and the need to
build a successful legal practice. You need people to become a wealthy lawyer
and receive referral (be it client or job). Some persons in your class would
not practice law but they may refer clients to you, some of them will be
judges, others will become Governors, Senators, Professors, Head of Blue Chip
Corporations, inter alia. The least intelligent person beside you may become
the wealthiest in future. Being comfortable or coming from a wealthy background
as a student does not mean you will be successful more than those poor and
starving students in your class. Majority of our leaders today are not from
wealthy homes for example read the profile of Professor Benedict Ayade, Atiku
Abubakar, President Buhari etc. What I am saying is that, you should do all you
can to avoid discrimination and be friendly with everyone because tomorrow is
pregnant. There is no profession that reconnects people like the legal
profession. The first personal client I handled was a referral from my friend;
the second client was a cab driver I met casually. Remember to put a smiling
face and associate with people at every given opportunity.

Whereas, I am not a marriage coach but it is important to let
you know that as a single new wig the choice of marrying the right spouse is
not less important. Life after law is not Nollywood where wealthy,
handsome/beautiful spouse with good character will appear from nowhere for
marriage. Dissolution of marriage is prevalent today because of material and
physical consideration as factors for building marital life as against good
character and understanding. After participating in several dissolution
proceedings, I started praying against the evil of choosing the wrong spouse.
One of the best environments to meet the right spouse is the University. Please
hold unto good relationships and build your castles upon them. Remember always
that OBA says ‘everyone matters, you must avoid pride and relate with people
genuinely’.

 

6. LIVING THE EXPECTED LIFE IN FUTURE

Life can never get easy, it can only get better. The older
you grow the tougher life becomes. Living a fulfilled life is not dependent on
how many cars, houses and children a person has. We all have different dreams
but we need each other to achieve those dreams. 
Like I said earlier, the University’s environment is a simulation of the
circular world.  Thus, if you want to
join circular politics, how are you participating in student’s politics without
jeopardizing your studies? If you want to become an academia how well are you
reading and planning for further studies? If you want to be a judge in future then
join the judiciary in school and start learning something. If you want to be
the best academically then stop sleeping and deal with the evil of
procrastination. No body can inspire you more than yourself. After occupying
offices as a student leader, I almost gave up my circular political ambition
because the stress was beyond my imagination. If you have positive ambition,
you need sacrifice and determination to achieve it.  Ask questions and seek direction from the
right people. You can achieve your dreams at any stage, notwithstanding your
current position in life, for instance, becoming the best student, occupying
the political offices of your dreams within the university, meeting the right
spouse and building good relationship with the future leaders in your class,
department, faculty, within and without the University. THE BETTER TIME FOR YOU
TO PLAN FOR THE FUTURE STARTS NOW, BECAUSE YOUR NOW IS THE FOUNDATION OF YOUR
TOMORROW.

 

CONCLUSION

Life after law school is complicated, but you can find your
way with proper planning. When things are hard and every opportunity appears to
be closed, all you need to do is to remember that there is always an
alternative in all situations. The alternative for thinking about giving
up/suicide after failing a course or failing bar finals is to go back and do it
better, the alternative for rejection is to work for acceptance, the
alternative for graduating with bad result is to proceed to post graduate
diploma, the alternative for abusive relationship is to quit, the alternative
for parasitic relationship is to confront the parasite, the alternative for
greater performance lies in self development, optimism and meeting the right
people. There is always an option where there seems to be none just look
closer. My principal in his early years of practice received CORN AND PEAR as consideration but he
persisted and later became a Commissioner in Cross River State, Attorney
General of the Federation, and Nigerian Legal Adviser to the United Nations. He
established the EFCC and ICPC, today he a handles almost all the juicy briefs
in Nigeria. Always remember the story of my principal Chief Kanu Godwin Agabi
SAN, CON. The early years of practice may not be good, but the later days shall
be fruitful. The legal profession is the best profession on earth, do not allow
anyone discourage you from becoming an ENDURING AND EXCELLENT LEGAL
PRACTITIONER.

 

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