You must have been hearing the stories from your first day in the University of how terrible and hectic the Nigerian Law School can be. You would have heard stories of woes and poor results, of people having to resit the exams over and over again but its reality, you are now a student of NLS and you are wondering how to survive. First, you need to relax. NLS is not as bad as you have heard. This piece is intended to help you understand how to go about your non-academic life at NLS and other miscellaneous things.
A few clarifications: I don’t claim to know anything and I didn’t graduate with a first class. I wasn’t exactly the very serious ‘bookie’ kind of person but I made it out of law school and my experience may help you. In life, we learn from the experiences of others but one will have to create their experience and learn from it, so you will need to understand your uniqueness and carve out your experience at NLS. These are not academic tips though I will say a few things about the courses.
Let’s take the issues in numbered paragraphs:
- Understand your campus
There are six campuses of the NLS; Abuja, Kano, Yola, Lagos, Enugu and Bayelsa. I was posted to Bayelsa and what an experience it was. Apart from the Lagos campus, most of the other campuses are not in the center of town, they are majorly in small villages or outskirts of the city. Bayelsa for instance is on the outskirt of Yenagoa, though not too far from town. Yola campus shares boundaries with American University of Nigeria, Enugu campus is at Agbani, Kano at Bagauda while Abuja is in Bwari, a long distance from the Abuja city center.
Basically, you need to understand what is available on your campus and what you need to source from outside campus. If you are in Kano, please ensure that you buy winter cloths because the cold may deceive you to think that you are in Europe. If you are in Bayelsa for instance, prepare your umbrella and rain suits because it rains without warning and when it’s hot, it’s very hot. As an aside, Enugu has the Adam and Eve Hostel. What in goodness is that? Garden of Eden? Lol.
Generally, you don’t have to worry about power supply, NLS ensures that you have light till 12 midnight at the least and the generator comes on again at 6 or 7am depending on your campus. With regards to food, as you may well be aware, you cannot cook on campus so prepare adequate food provisions as alternative to eating out. Again, depending on your campus and the size of your belly, an average meal goes for N250 per plate. Do your budget and schedule your “food money”. If you don’t trust your ability to keep your food allowance without blowing it, you can buy food ticket for the entire month such that you go to your preferred restaurant and have your meals without having to think about daily payment. I adopted that system with Iya Oyo in Bayelsa campus and it helped. The disadvantage of this will be that you may get bored of eating from the same restaurant every day but it saves the danger of blowing your food allowance and getting stranded. I can assure you don’t want to be hungry at NLS.
Another thing to consider is water and laundry. Again, depending on your campus, you may need to buy water every day. Some campuses don’t have water issues but some do. Your white shirts are very important, it’s essential that you keep them truly white, which is why they must be washed with clean water. In Bayelsa, we sometimes had yellow and ‘óyel’ laced water so that you couldn’t always wash your white shirts with the water. Dry cleaning is not too expensive depending on your economic capabilities but if you cannot afford it, get your clean water and do it yourself.
2. Making friends
Forget all the stories you have heard, make attempts at forging new friendships. Attract to yourself guys who love you for you, and are better than you. Certain friendships from the law school will last throughout your lifetime and some are lifetime partners.
3. Falling in Love, Sex and weeding
Okay, you are an adult; you can choose to fall in love in Law school. If you truly fall in love with someone worth your love, and there is response from the other party, by all means go ahead and give the relationship a chance. I know you came to campus to pass the bar, but life doesn’t go on hold simply because you are in law school. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you go out of your way to seek for love but if love finds you, off course by all means…
On the other hand, you can also choose to have indiscriminate sex. It’s a choice but I would advise you not to do that – just my opinion. Some guys were expelled for having sex on Abuja campus so if you must have sex, make sure you get out of campus. Don’t do it within the four walls of the campus. Also, during my time at NLS Bayelsa, some guys were suspended because they were caught weeding on campus so watch it.
4. Piety and Religion
Regardless of what you believe in, you will definitely need God in NLS. So make it a habit to enjoy church services and jumat prayers as the case may be. I was active in Bayelsa as an executive member in CLASFON and Chapel. Those were great times of genuine service to God and it didn’t in anyway affect my academic purpose and pursuit.
5. Attendance and Law School Dinners
You should know by now that attendance at classes is very compulsory. If you don’t make 75% attendance mark, you won’t be allowed to sit for the bar finals. This is not a joke o; you have to take this seriously, make sure you sign in, in the morning and sign out after class. Please don’t skip classes unnecessarily except it’s totally inevitable. On Dinner, please do your best not to miss the dinners and dress in accordance with NLS requirements to avoid being asked to return to the hostel to change.
I really don’t think I am the best person to advise you in this regards. Anyway, there are five courses in the law school; civil litigation, criminal litigation, property law, Corporate law and Law in Practice (formerly called Ethics).Usually, two lecturers teach each course. Classes resume at 9am and closes at 2pm at the earliest with 30 minutes break, depending on your campus. Classes in Lagos and Bayelsa often don’t end till 4pm, sometimes even stretching till 5pm.
Be careful of the materials you use as some of them are greatly misleading. If you are not sure of the right position of the law, discuss with your friends and if still unsure, ask your lecturers. Most of them are easily approachable. Understand what works for you; don’t just simply run to the library to pass off as a serious student unless this system works for you.
Please note that Law in Practice looks simple but many have fallen by its sword so take it seriously. Corporate law is a continuation of your company law so it may be a little abstract and sometimes the lecturers may confuse you. Just ensure that you distill the conflicting information properly so you know what is right. Civil Litigation is bulky so you need to pay close attention to it; else you will find yourself lagging behind and having so much ground to cover.
In all, Law school is a mini NYSC before NYSC; you will meet people from all over Nigeria. Make maximum use of it. Have fun, rest well, eat well and read. Please read. I wish you God’s best.
Tosin is an Associate at Banwo & Ighodalo, one of Nigeria’s foremost law firms.