Law has always been a revered course in Nigeria, more often than not, parents are excited about the possibility of having a professional lawyer in the family. Students who have good communication skills and are great at defending others with facts can choose to study law at the university.
There are several reasons why people decide to study law, one of the most common amongst students is because they enjoy subjects like Government/History, love to analyse current legal proceedings and are looking forward to getting the proper law education at the university.
A lot of perks come with becoming a professional lawyer in Nigeria. One of the core advantages is that you will get to save a lot of people's lives, help companies become successful or maintain their success and protect their interests. In quite a lot of cases, lawyer salaries can be really high. Whatever your reason is for intending to study law, you must know all of the requirements as well as the steps.
This article is designed to help in processing the necessary steps you need to become a lawyer in Nigeria.
Becoming A Lawyer In Nigeria
Deciding to choose the legal profession requires dedication and the drive to always stay consistent, up to date and relevant. This is why you must be certain you are up for it before going down this legal path. For interested students, you must take art and social science-related subjects in secondary school. More importantly, passing English, Literature-In-English, Government/History, Mathematics, and Economics will go a long way in helping you make a successful career or profession in law.
During your Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE), O' level exam conducted by the National Examinations Council (NECO) or any other equivalent secondary exam, your requirements will be to have at least a pass in these subjects. After you have passed your secondary school certification, you're eligible to fill out a Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board (JAMB) form of your most preferred university and Polytechnic before sitting for Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) and Post-UTME
If you fulfil all the academic requirements, you will get admission into the university of your choice. The total years you'd be spending in the university when studying law is 5 years. During your law study (university or academic stage), you will cover all legal fundamental principles, 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.
After your law degree, you will graduate with a Bachelor's Degree in Law. This, along with other documents are what you will use for admission into The Nigerian Law School. Here, you will spend a year studying for your Bar Part II program.
If you're a foreign student, you'll be required to undertake the Bar Part I program first before Bar Part II. The program is designed to teach you the essential parts of the Nigerian legal system which you're not exposed to. The duration of this program (Bar 1) is usually for 3 months, and once you've successfully completed this, you proceed to Bar part II.
During your one-year Bar part II programme, you will go through rigorous training in vocational knowledge and practical skills. All of the courses you'll take in the Bar Part II program 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).
After taking the Bar exams, you are expected to take part in the National Youth Service Corps program (NYSC) and begin your successful lawyer profession or career.
Getting A Job With A Law Degree In Nigeria
You read and studied hard for 6 years to get this far, hence it's only proper to have the right information when it comes to getting jobs as lawyers. One of the most beautiful thing about studying law is that lawyers can work almost anywhere, across any field. Lawyers can work in finance companies, oil and gas and art-related companies asides their conventional law firms. If you're interested in working in a court or at a law firm, here are some positions you can assume:
- Tax Consultant
- Legal Publisher
- Loss Adjuster
- Compliance Officer
- Legal Advisor
For lawyers who aren't interested in pursuing a career in the law field or making it a profession, their historical background in law can help get jobs as a company secretary in a finance company. They can also work as Human Resource Officers, bankers, data analysts and data scientists, stockbrokers and more. Getting a job with a lawyer's degree is usually not much of a hassle. As you have read above, the opportunities for lawyers or a person with a law degree is limitless.
Lawyer's Salary: Pricing, Levels And Experience Years
When it comes to the salary range of lawyers, it is mostly dependent on your years of work experience, the field you have chosen to work with, and of course, the information you have.
In terms of the field you have chosen to work with, mid-level legal counsellors, for instance, can earn up to ₦320,000 per month, a mid/senior level in house lawyer can make from ₦250,000 to ₦700,000 monthly and entry-level lawyers doing this position earn ₦100,000 - ₦150,000 monthly. This is opposed to a court clerk who can earn a monthly income of ₦47,000. Associate lawyers, finance associate attorneys, entertainment lawyers and legal advisers can earn within the ranges of ₦150,000 - ₦500,000 per month.
Technically, Lawyers who work as company secretaries and associates are more likely to earn a lot more than lawyers who choose to work solely in the court or in some law firms.
In terms of experience years, an entry-level lawyer with 0 - 2 years of working experience, earns between ₦75,000 - ₦100,000 monthly. While someone else with a three to five-year (mid-level) professional legal skill can earn a minimum of ₦150,000 per month. Lawyers with a professional experience between five and ten years are referred to as senior lawyers and their salaries can be up to ₦500,000 monthly, even higher.
Another way to boost your salary is through additional educational certificates.
Masters degree holders in law usually earn a lot more than a bachelor's degree holder. For instance, a lawyer with a master's degree is more likely to earn a minimum of ₦250,000 while attorneys with a PhD can earn an average minimum of ₦500,000 monthly. While it can be quite expensive to go to post-graduate school, the benefits of doing this are worth the investment. Not only do you increase your expertise, but you also get to gain a lot more knowledge.
Generally in Nigeria, women are paid 22% less than men. While this may seem underwhelming, new societies are breaking the barrier and more women are beginning to earn a lot more.
Passing The Bar Exams In Nigeria
During your one-year law school education (Bar part II), one of the requirements is writing the Bar exam at the end of the program. To qualify for the Bar part II program, you would need to satisfy the qualifying degree requirement which is your university law degree certificate and academic transcript. After admission into law school, you must learn all of the courses offered. Your course training will consist of Civil Litigation, Criminal Litigation, Property Law Practice, Corporate Law Practice and Law in Practice (also known as ethics and skills).
These are the courses you will be tested on in your Bar Part II exam. If you're a foreign student, you will need to do a Bar Part I studies first before proceeding to Bar Part II. Upon successful training, you will be eligible to be called to the Nigerian Bar. Most times, students (including foreign students) are advised to read and practice their skills before this exam. It is also advisable that you work with a private tutor in cases where you're struggling with understanding certain law subjects.
After passing your bar exam, your final stage is the call to bar ceremony where you will be presented with your well-deserved 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.
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