I still remember that moment, the one I had been waiting for. Five years in the university had led to that very moment…
Can you guess?
It was the moment I stepped my feet inside the school premises. This was the dream of every law student. My friends and family were at home cheering me on. It was like a height I had attained. I was in the Nigerian Law School. This solemn environment that night seemed like the land of the legal gods. I was ready to take off my shoes and scream to the heavens.
I thought I would feel an electric wave go through my body like in the movies. Or maybe that was too dramatic because I didn’t feel anything. It was just the soft thumping of my little heart within my chest filled with nostalgia, anticipating the kind of story that would evolve from my stay.
There were a lot of scary stories about the place, how people go insane trying to memorize all the cases, sections and law reports, how it was so bad that persons had woken up one day with the decision to quit, how the exams spanned through a week without so much as a breathing space, how you were expected to have all the laws in your human brain, etc.
All the testimonies from successful colleagues couldn’t erase the permanent imprint of those scares. It was like a bitter pill we needed to swallow. The result was panic. Yes! The five letter word was enough to cause so much havoc in our grades.
But we didn’t know this early enough. We were scared. We studied our books with fear like a shadow over us; it was like if we didn’t pass the exams, the world would end. Come to think of it, it was just exams, why did it seem like it was a huge mountain of molten magna ready to burn us beyond recognition.
Every Civil Procedure Rule, Property Law draft, company procedure, and legal ethic didn’t look as easy as the lecturers purported it to be. Why? Because we already had the belief firmly rooted within us that it was difficult.
Law school is not an insurmountable feat, you too can make it. Whether you have already gone through the process or you’re resitting the exams, this article is for you. It is imperative that we spread the word.
TIPS ON HOW TO SURVIVE IN THE NIGERIAN LAW SCHOOL
- Cast away all fears
You need to understand that you can’t defeat what you’re afraid of. This has led to some persons giving up before they’ve even started. It is true that other factors like the harshness of the weather, distance from home, terrible food, financial constraints, etc. could be an added disadvantage, you shouldn’t let it form the core of your existence.
On a lighter note, stop avoiding the microphone like the plague. Imagine hearing ‘pass the mic’, and you’re not too far from the person who’s with it. That alone is enough to cause a heart attack, I can testify. The rate at which we were all scared of answering questions for fear of being embarrassed was quite hilarious. No one wants to be seen as the unserious person.
You want to pass? Just adhere to simple instructions and advice from those who have gone through the fire, follow those instructions to the letter and you’ll be fine.
- Hold unto God
I know that it has become a norm for everyone in law school to suddenly become very close to God. It is as funny as it is necessary since this plays a very significant role in most successes. I cannot begin to emphasize how much you need God in this phase. You cannot read all the books and neglect the other side.
It is very important, I tell you. There were times when I felt I didn’t have the strength to go on. It was only God’s grace. Through the intense weeks of exam preparation, it was only by God’s direction.
Don’t fail to pray whether you’re a Christian or Muslim. Make sure you consider your colleagues. Don’t because you want to pass by all means, ride on your colleague’s intelligence. Be your brother’s keeper.
- Read! Read!! Read!!!
I’m sure this heading shot an arrow through your spine right now. I’m sorry, praying and trusting God alone won’t help you here. Remember faith without works? You can’t soak yourself in fasting and prayers and expect your pen to write by itself in the exam Hall. Gone are those days where we use to hear tales of how people use magic pen. Even I considered the idea of tearing my brain open and packing all my books inside.
There’s a risk that some persons take, marathon reading! This is a very huge risk in the law school. If you’ve been doing it before, stop it now! Take note of every detail, don’t wave off anything. Sometimes, it’s the little questions that make people fail. Study every chance you get.
Some persons think the more they read, the more chances they have of passing the exams. That’s why people fall sick on the very first day. You cannot cheat nature. If you are a night reader, you should find time during the day to rest.
I usually liked to sleep after lectures. Then, I sleep for two to three hours before our study group meetings. Then I study after the meeting, sleep for another two hours and wake up to study just before dawn. My alarm clock was my best friend. This was what worked for me. You have to discover what works for you. There are many people who were copycats. No one has the same stamina, take note!
- Work smart, not hard
This is why we were advised not to miss lectures. It is important that while the class is going on, you pay full attention. Take notes of everything, if possible, record the classes and listen to them later.
When it is few months to the exams, make sure you study those notes properly. By that time you should have compiled all the important laws and sections you need. Remember I said, the ones you need. Some people put so many cases together and at the end, they can’t recall any. Know your capacity!
- No one is a island
On this journey of life, we all need each other whether you like it or not. If you think you know it all, you should try to reach out to those who don’t. Learn to lend a helping hand wherever you find yourself. The law school is one place where you need to look out for each other.
There are three different classes of students in the law school: the extremely brilliant ones. These ones don’t even have to try. You can tell how good they are upstairs. They need to be reminded that apart from inspiring people with their sharp brain, they need to make themselves available to share.
The average ones don’t have to struggle so much. They may not bother killing themselves with books until it is about life and death. They are the ones who most likely do marathon reading. It is quite dangerous and you don’t want it to become a habit. These ones are just in their comfort zone. And you know what they say about the comfort zone? Nothing grows there. They need to stretch out a bit more because they can be so much better.
The last set aren’t exactly bad but they are always struggling. They need to put more effort. Again, if you’re on this category, don’t pretend that you know it, for your sake. A lot of people act like everything is alright with them instead of sharing their challenges.
- Use precedents
In using precedents, we don’t only mean decided cases, there are past questions you can attempt while you wait for the exams.
All work and no play? I bet you can finish that. Law school isn’t all about the books. Create time to relax. It’s an opportunity at least to interact with people from different spheres of life. I thought you’d take that chance. Because, time will come, you won’t even see some people again. You’ll be so focused on the exams that you’d forget that your roommate exists.
Don’t socialize and forget the reason why you’re there sha. Trust me, you’d meet a lot of beautiful ladies and handsome gents. Some persons even get married after the nightmarish experience.
- Follow instructions
I don’t know what this is very important. Most people are too fast, they don’t take note of instructions. Over here, keep your ears on the ground for information. When you’re supposed to finish your registration, waste no time in doing it.
- Stay focused
A lot of distractions will arise definitely. Be careful what or who you give your time to. Time is very precious and it runs the moment the school calendar begins. Make daily plans on your journal so that you set your priorities straight from day one.
While putting these tips to good use, do your part and leave the rest to God. Make sure you’re on the right track. And if you’re not, retrace your steps back. After your exams, resist the urge to score yourself by checking the questions you failed. It is a recipe for failure especially when you realise that you’ve put in the wrong answer. You need all the positivity you can get, and I assure you that as you heed all these, Success is sure.