"We canvass the view that law scholars in Nigeria should re-imagine the intellectual content and breadth of their fields of study. They should now be thinking of moulding and shaping future advocates who would have audience not only in Nigerian courts but also in the global community of courts “This is even more so since Nigerians are found in virtually all corners of the globe" - Justice Nweze of the Supreme Court of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
Law has always been one of the most prestigious professions in Nigeria and the world. Even till now, if you were to ask a lot of children what they would like to be when they grow up, there's a 70% chance that they would mention a doctor, a lawyer, or an engineer. They may decide on these professions simply because these jobs are in the business of helping people and they have the chance of being a modern-day hero.
But as we all grow up, a lot of people start to talk about how scary or difficult studying law is. This tends to make a lot of people intending to study law shy away from the course. Additionally, there's also the undertone expression of how lawyers are portrayed. One of the most general notions is that lawyers are liars.
Despite all of the stereotypes and derogatory remarks made about lawyers, they are part of the people who make the world a better place. As you will get to know in law school, there are so many branches and a lot more types of law courses. A lot of lawyers work on environmental, human rights and criminal cases that contribute to helping the society and humanity at large.
If you have developed an interest in becoming a lawyer during your senior secondary school years or you're a working adult looking at a career change, Superprof is here to give you the step-by-step guide on becoming a lawyer in Nigeria.
What Education Requirements Do I Need In Secondary School To Become A Lawyer?
If you're interested in law practice, one of the best places to find out is in secondary school. Preparing for your future career during this period is essential for your ultimate success. When you know what to study during undergraduate school or university, you become more goal-oriented, organised and focus.
So, if you have decided during secondary school that you would like to go to a university school of law, you will need to ask yourself a very important question:
What do I need to study during secondary school for admission into law in the university?
In this section, we will be answering all of your questions, so sit back and relax!
For law school admission, you're required to have completed your O'levels with 5 credit passes in English, Mathematics, Government/History and any two of arts or social science subjects.
Most Nigerian universities will also require that you have great scores in Literature-in-English and Economics. You must get really good passes on these subjects.
A few schools do not offer history or government subjects. If you're in a school such as this, make sure you get a private lesson teacher that can teach you on this subject or move to another school. Since government or history is one of the requirements to study law, you should be studying it.
Also, these subjects including English and Literature-in-English will refine your essay writing skills which are very valuable when going to law school.
Here's a breakdown of the most required subjects when applying to law school in Nigeria:
- Government/History: As a secondary school student in Nigeria, studying one or both of these subjects will give you a better insight to the Nigerian law and the rules that bind several issues in the society. You'll also get a basic introduction to different kinds of government and constitutions as well as the history of law and legal cases in Nigeria.
- Literature-In-English: When studying this subject, it opens your mind for more critical thinking or logical reasoning and verbal reasoning. If you happen to have a good teacher in school, you'll be able to create real-life scenarios for several fictional characters. It's a great way of introducing you to a well-written essay that will do you good as a prospective law student.
- English Language: Also a compulsory requirement, this subject boosts your writing and verbal skills. During your legal training, you will be doing a lot of talking and writing. Taking English as a subject will prepare you well for that.
- Economics: Economics is the base of everything financial. For students interested in tax law, property law, business law, insurance law amongst others, this subject will give you the proper basic knowledge you'd need to start your journey to getting a career in law.
- Foreign Languages: While this isn't as compulsory, consider learning it to keep your law degree options flexible. For instance, if you'd like to specialise in international law and you'd like to travel out of Nigeria, it will be very useful if you're fluent in other languages such as German, French, Spanish, Chinese, etc.
Ultimately, the choice is yours. These subjects will benefit you in the future while you're defending cases in court. To reiterate, English along with Maths (minimum pass grade is needed for maths) are both needed to study in a college of law in Nigeria. If you don't have the required grades in these, you won't be admitted to any university.
Becoming A Lawyer: How Long Does It Take After Secondary School?
Before starting a career path in law, it is very important to know how many years of your life will be dedicated to getting your legal career. Taking an undergraduate degree in law is no jokes and you must think it out carefully:
Your first step is, to begin with, the academic Stage. To meet this stage, you're expected to obtain a law degree program. It is usually your first degree which is the Bachelor of Laws (LLB). You can attain this degree in any university in Nigeria. The Bachelor of Laws degree provides students with legal and scholarly skills to practice law successfully. The duration of this is 5 years and within those years, you will cover all the basics of law. Your curriculum within these years includes 12 compulsory core law courses - Legal Methods, Nigerian Legal System, Contract Law, Constitutional Law, Company Law, Law of Torts, Commercial Law, Law of Equity and Trusts, Criminal Law, Land Law, Law of Evidence, and Jurisprudence.
If you've already completed an undergraduate degree in Nigeria, then you should Enrol at the Nigerian Law School for the Bar Part II programme. The Nigerian Law School will educate and train law school graduates in vocational knowledge and practical skills. All the courses you'll take in the Bar Part II programme are compulsory and you must obtain at least a Pass degree in all of them to complete the programme. The courses are Criminal Litigation, Civil Litigation, Corporate Law & Practice, Property Law and Law in Practice (Ethics & Skills). The duration of this programme is 1 year.
If you didn't study in Nigeria during your undergraduate degree, you will be required to enroll at the Nigerian Law School Bar Part I programme. The programme will teach you the essential parts of the Nigerian legal system which you're not exposed to. This is usually for 3 months, once you've successfully completed this, you proceed to Bar part II.
You're required to take the Bar Finals examinations. If you're successful, then you will be eligible to be called to the Nigerian Bar.
The final stage is the call to bar ceremony where you will be presented with your certificate. You will then be eligible to enrol in the Roll of Legal Practitioners which is maintained by the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
Technically you will be spending an average of 6 years to become a legal practitioner in Nigeria.
What Skills Do I Need To Develop To Become A Successful Lawyer In Nigeria?
Developing the right skills and qualities to becoming a lawyer in Nigeria requires patience and dedication. Here are some essential skills needed for a successful career in law:
- Judgment: Being able to successfully draw important conclusions from limited information is how to become a successful lawyer. You should also be able to point out weaknesses in the opposition's argument and deliver judgment calls quickly.
- Research skills: You need to be very prepared to do a lot of research when preparing legal strategies. These strategies need to be learned well and easily explained to clients.
- Excellent communication skills: as an accredited lawyer, you should be great at communication and be highly intellectual. You're expected to use a precise and easy to understand language and be able to persuade a courtroom when using carefully selected words.
- Analytical skills: You should be able to resolve a case in different ways. Being able to analyse well is a great quality in a lawyer.
- People skills: Since you'll be working constantly with people, you should be prepared to offer the right counsel and win over new clients. Remember that people's decisions affect the lives of others positively or negatively. So you must be persuasive and be able to read other actions and thoughts in the courtroom.
- Creativity: One of the most essential qualities of some of the best lawyers in the world possess is being able to think outside the box. Since solutions aren't always simple, there should be someone who can bring in a fresh perspective. This is how you know a great lawyer from an ordinary one.
- Perseverance: Studying law takes 6 years of your life. Some lawsuits require years to be resolved as well. As a lawyer, this is also a very necessary quality.
Even though studying law takes time, imagine the possibilities of saving honest clients and being the hero. It's certainly worth it!