I hope you don’t seem petrified by the idea of knowing mathematics as a lawyer. Well that fear of yours is well founded especially when viewed against the background that most arts students, as we are as law students pursue careers in the arts as a lifeline from pummeling at the hands of mathematics. Most law students dread mathematics and would want to maintain a safe distance from their secondary school bête noir.
So do lawyers in practice ever come across cases where knowledge of mathematics would be the trump card? By no means. A lawyer needs no more than basic math knowledge to succeed in the day-to-day hassle of law practice. No more than a market woman would require to effectively transact in the market place. Even in instances where the cases lawyers litigate in court involve more advance mathematical concept rather than dabble into them, lawyers can hire a specialist in that area to testify as an expert witness by expressing their opinions on the matter. It is crystal clear that basic math skills are sufficient for the practice of law.
The only exception lies in cases where lawyers seek to practice in very technical areas of law practice that require specialized knowledge. Examples are areas like bankruptcy, tax and mergers and acquisitions.
If you seek a career in these areas you won’t need to bag a formal math degree or necessarily have a decree in accountancy. But it would still do you the world of good to have a smattering grasp of mathematics most of which you could pick up in your finance-oriented courses in your undergraduate curriculum. You’ll need to know basic concepts like present net value, time value of money, amortization and discount analysis and other similar concepts. Other than these you’ll need nothing more than the basics of mathematics which I’m sure you still remember from your secondary school mathematics tutoring.
A youngish lawyer with penetrating insight, Patrick Herbert is the Editor-in-Chief and founder of Lawstudenthub, a site dedicated to helping new wigs find their footing in a trickily slippery legal profession and stay current with emerging developments in the legal industry. He holds an LL.B from the University of Benin and a BL from the Nigerian Law School, Abuja.
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