So much has been said and written about the one year at the Nigerian Law School. However, the five years spent as a law undergraduate in the university are very critical years which go a long way to determine success at the Law School and beyond. This series looks to lend a helping to prospective lawyers at that stage.
Oludays(with apologies to my Learned Senior, Falz), whether regular calendar breaks or “strike breaks” are a very important time as a law undergraduate. Indeed, it’s the time to chill, travel, relax and maybe even relapse! Oludays, however, can be a time to rehearse for the future we cannot wait to get to.Below is a list of good ways a law student could spend his/her break:
- LAW OFFICE INTERNSHIP
A good number of firms including the Ivy League firms offer opportunities for Law undergraduates to engage in internship programmes at their offices. The first step is to prepare a good CV and a cover letter and apply. This is a huge plus as interns are exposed to legal practice beyond theory and pseudo-practice of mooting. Furthermore, it is the shortcut to meet potential mentors amongst the lawyers in the firm. The experiences will be of immense benefit in future job applications. And yes, the doors are opened a bit wider when it comes to internship so take the shot!
- TAKE A COURSE
There are many courses one can do as an undergraduate that would give him/her an edge sometime in the future. For example, I know of a colleague at the Law School who was a computer guru. He was the superhero anytime the lecturers had challenges with the computers and projectors. Today, just few months post-call, he is working on an e-law platform. There are many courses which one can take; courses on Information Technology, Alternative Dispute Resolution etc. You could even start the journey to fellowship in institutes like the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, amongst others.
- APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIPS
There are scholarships everywhere, all you have to do is find them. We are even privileged to have them few clicks away. So, add it to your to-do list and you might be lucky. A scholarship could make a Leicester City FC out of you in the Legal Premier League you would compete in someday.
- VISIT OUR COURTS
Of course, not every lawyer would practice law, but every lawyer has to pass through the Nigerian Law School. The Law School is a vocational school where law graduates are taught what a friend once called “practical theory”. Indeed and in truth, if you follow and appreciate the proceedings before our courts before entering the Law School, you would have a head start, especially in Civil and Criminal Litigation. You would not be like some of us who at the start thought “leave of court” meant “judicial vacation”! Early exposure to court processes (documents), practice etc. would make Law School a puzzle placing process in the above courses.
- BUILD YOUR VOLUNTEER EXPERIENCE
Volunteer experience is considered by several employers. Oludays are a good time to volunteers. There are so many opportunities and causes, do not see it as “awoof”, you have a lot to gain. This might be causes within the legal profession, or humanitarian causes amongst others. Volunteering may also make you meet persons who you would ordinarily not meet, thus it is a good way to meet potential mentors and like-minded colleagues.
- READ LIKE YOU ARE NOT READING
This is a cool time to study as you can do so with little or no pressure. No coffee, no feet immersed in a bowl of water, no stand-by paracetamol tablets because the headache will come! During Oludays you can do what I call “pop-corn study”. You read like it is a movie. You can take your time, and actually read it like you read gossip blogs. You could even read beyond the syllabus, enjoy it, cover what you want to cover and yet sleep as long as you desire.
Brothers and sisters, in the points above, I opened up to you some things I would correct when time travel is invented. Please, do what you can to help yourselves now you can, in case time travel is not invented! Cheers!
Kamsi Obinna Atuchukwu is a lawyer based in Lagos, Nigeria. He can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @KamsiOAon Twitter.