Unlike most law students I Musangu Mwila Fundulu never ever dreamt of studying law. It seldom crossed my mind as I was young and undecided the decision was made on my behalf.
I turned 18 years old on the first day of class though it was more on the introductory side. I was highly overwhelmed by our course outlines and the amount of information we students were expected to assimilate.
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Owing to the fact that it wasn’t the course of my dreams I sulked and whined at how much work it was and on the other hand I enjoyed the status that came with simply being a law student:
- Family members treat you differently;
- Friends hold you in high esteem;
- Parents assume that you know every single political occurrence in the country;
- You automatically have the right to post lawyer jokes on Facebook;
- The boys! Need I say more? Simply because you now know more even the men that approach you become different, they’re more decided and well-articulated. Added to that is that most of them look like they walked right out of a magazine!
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Personally I moved from wearing sweatpants and jeans to suits. It was uncomfortable at first but boy! Did I look good?
All these things put together helped me slightly acclimatize to the situation as weeks went by I realised that the harder I studied the more bearable and easier to understand it became. I frequently attended my seniors Moot Court sessions I surprisingly found myself looking forward to when I would qualify to be a part of it.
Continuous assessments came and went some courses were better than others. This helped me highlight my strengths and weaknesses.
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I associated myself with focused and determined individuals who could switch from play to work with utmost ease. I spent such long hours with them and our performance in class was encouraging.
We all had strong points which made discussions highly advantageous and at this point the information I was able to absorb scared me.It was all very new to be able to stand in front of people with intent to adequately propound issues at hand, all signs of timidity has been washed away and behold confidence has come anew.
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Caffeine filled mornings
Loss of “friends”
To think that all the above is nothing compared to what one has to go through compared to the struggle of being admitted to the Zambian bar.
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After getting a law degree, one has to embark on a journey to the ZAMBIA INSTITUTE OF ADVANCED LEGAL EDUCATION (ZIALE)
This Institute is not a cup of cake. It has made and shattered the dreams of many law students, the pass rate is ridiculously low as seen with the recent results where only 16 students out of 238 made it to the bar.
The remaining 222 who did not make it on the first sitting have two more chances to re-write and if unsuccessful, they will only attempt after it after 5 years.
After spending thousands of Kwacha you are now stuck doing research and clerical duties. It really breaks my heart.
As at 2013, there was roughly 1 lawyer for every 20,000 Zambians. In the past 3 years, our pass rate has still been less than 20 each year which is a drop in the ocean.
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There are so many views on the restrictive admission into our legal system.
Some think it has been politicized under the notion that those who are in good books with people in power are never failed whereas students associated with the opposition stand no chance.
Others feel law students are badly trained from the university or could it be that leakages have become so widespread that our law students are finding it hard to cope without it?
Are we being failed in order to maintain the monopoly in the perceived “highly lucrative legal business?” I for one think it’s unacceptable that students have been failing for so long yet till now all we do is debate and finger point one another.
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The truth of the matter is we have a problem in our system and instead of playing hide and seek with the issue brethren let us help one another solve it.
After saying all this I extremely love where I am now. It’s better than I expected.
I will get my degree
I will be amongst the ZIALE 16
I will be a lawyer
Authors Profile: Musangu Mwila Fundulu is an LLB 1 student at the National Institute of Public Administration (NIPA), Lusaka Zambia.