5 Pros And Cons Of Studying Law In Nigeria
Still undecided on whether it’s worth to study law in Nigeria? Maybe it will help if you knew the hard truths. Life is all about maximizing gain and minimizing pain and that is exactly why it’s so important to weigh every of your pursuit in the balance to see whether it’s attainment would yield more gains than losses. And if after a proper assessment you discover that you stand to benefit more pursuing a particular career, then it’s a go. In the same vein, if as an aspiring law student, you are contemplating studying law in Nigeria but you are not sure if it would turn out to be the ideal career game changer, then that makes it all the more crucial to know the pros and cons of studying law here in Nigeria in order to come to a better decision. So here are the pros and cons of studying law in Nigeria.
#1 You will better understand Nigerian Law
In every country of the world, law universities tailor courses in their law curricula in line with that countries legal system. The reason is because lawyers in every jurisdiction of the world are schooled in the laws of that specific jurisdiction and this arms them with the ideal country-specific expertise of practicing law within that jurisdiction. At such, to succeed as a lawyer in Nigeria, you have to be familiar with the domestic and indigenous that form the substrata of the Nigerian legal system. So one of the pros of studying law in Nigeria is that you’ll gain a better understanding of the Nigerian legal system, its courts and legal institutions and with your depth of knowledge and background in Nigerian law, you could go on to have a successful Nigerian law practice.
#2 You’ll network with other professionals in the field
All law graduates upon graduation from law school will have to embark on a thorough job search and this can only be fruitful where they have an already existing network of professionals in the field built from their days as law students who they can contact to assist them in their job search. This network of professionals could consist of university alumni, immediate classmates, lecturers, and practicing lawyers. So if you study law in Nigeria and eventually decide to practice here, you can easily leverage the contacts you’ve built while studying here in Nigeria in your job search process to snag your ideal job (they might offer you valuable leads too).
#3 It is cheaper and affordable to study law in Nigeria
Studying law in Nigeria is cheaper than you’ll find anywhere else in the world not to put too fine a point on it! In Most Nigerian federal law universities, the annual law tuition is put at about N30, 000 naira ($94 USD) exempting books, course materials and living expenses. Whereas in the US, the average annual US law school tuition stands at $66, 000 dollars (the equivalent of N19 million naira) and the duration is for 3 years. So at the end of your 3 year law school in the US, you may be staring at a staggering $198, 000 dollars in law school tuition. Now that is a lot of money.
#4 There are less admission requirements to study law in Nigeria
Compared to what other countries of the world demand of law aspirants, Nigerian law students gain admission on a wild card. In the US, law is a second degree program meaning you have to bag a first degree in another discipline before you can be eligible to study law. After that, you’ll have to pass the LSAT to gain admission into an ABA approved US law school. In the UK, you are mandated to complete an additional one year A-levels study before you can be eligible to study law in the UK. In Nigeria law is a first degree discipline (there’s a new proposal by the NBA to make law a second degree) and there are less requirements. You will only need to scale the JAMB exams, pass the university’s screening exercise and then you are in for law without the encumbrance of any additional study like the case in the US and UK.
#5 You’ll benefit from the rigors,
Ask any Nigerian law student what it’s like to study law in Nigeria and they will tell you that it’s something of a grind. Law studies in Nigeria are very rigorous and law students have to find a way to adapt or break. You can’t take supporting materials to the exam venue nor your statutes or cases as it’s done in western climes. You have to cram, memorize and internalize everything you are taught before the D-day. This is grueling but like they say “if it doesn’t kill you it only makes you stronger”. Surviving the ordeal of studying law in Nigeria will make you super strong mentally. So if eventually you decide to leave the shores of Nigeria for any additional study abroad anything thrown at you will be a piece of cake. So what could be more difficult than studying law in Nigeria?
#1 Nigerian Law universities have poor global recognition.
A lawyer’s standing in the legal profession is essentially hinged on seniority in the bar. However when it comes to the employability of law graduates after school, university rankings rule the roost. The higher a schools ranking the greater the job prospects of its graduates. It’s a sad fact that Nigerian law universities are not all that recognized globally. What this means is that a second class lower graduate from a Nigerian university cannot hold a candle to a no-account 3rd class graduate from a well-ranked reputable law school abroad. It is such that Nigerian law graduates seeking additional study in law schools abroad are required to have their degrees analyzed owing to this lack of international recognition.
#2 Nigerian universities lack infrastructure
There’s a lamentable lack of infrastructure in almost all Nigerian Law universities. Schools are overpopulated, faculties are understaffed, lecture halls lack chairs and there are more empty library shelves than there are books. Things are in moribund and terrible state of decay. These state of affairs have led to Nigerian universities been described as “glorified secondary schools”. The effect is that our law graduates cannot compete on a level playing field with their counterparts across the world.
#3 Nigerian law universities are poorly funded
The incessant outbreaks of strikes mostly initiated by the ASUU in Nigeria have massively interrupted academic activities in Nigerian universities with the result that students overstay their specific course duration. Waiting for your graduation may seem like forever. At the heart of this problem lies the issue of poor funding of universities and the under remuneration of university staff. Universities are always at loggerheads with the government for increased pay and students pay for this conflict in extra years in school.
#4 Law studies in Nigerian universities are less experiential.
Nigerian law studies are overtly theoretical with little or no room for clinical training as it is done overseas and this happens to be the reason why law students in Nigeria cannot give legal advice since legal clinics (a phenomenon overseas) are not part of our legal training. As a law student in Nigeria, most of your learning as a law student begins and ends in the classroom. In your entire 5 year LL.B. studies, you never come within the four walls of a courtroom nor do you get the chance to participate in pro bono clinics where you meet and advise clients as it is done abroad. This makes the whole learning process staid and abysmally theoretical.
#5 The law curriculum lacks depth.
Compared to what other universities abroad have on offer our law universities curriculum is shallow and students are treated to nothing more than elementary legal principles. We are yet to bring our law curriculum in line with the emerging global law practice. Often Nigerian law students graduate with only bread and butter expertise in the multi-faceted world of law practice. To my mind that makes them a little insular in outlook and they might be in over heads when they are faced with the more challenging aspects of law practice.
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.
To get in touch, follow him on social media.