It is not uncommon for established faculties of law like the University of Lagos (UNILAG) Faculty of Law to have twice as many forms as less established faculties of law. In the past, this disparity in the sale of Law School forms was justifiable but in recent times these “less prestigious” faculties have also recorded outstanding performances at the Nigerian Law School. It is therefore no longer tenable for a faculty of law to rest on past laurels and the disparity needs to be revisited because the Law School owes a duty to ensure that the best students are admitted at all times. If one of the not so illustrious faculties of law has been performing well over a period of time, then it goes without saying that the number of forms available to such a faculty must be increased while those of low or non-performing faculties of law should be reduced to prevent a situation whereby the Law School would have too many law graduates to manage. That way, a student with good potential would not be sidelined simply because he is from a less prestigious University while one who is less endowed intellectually gets to attend the law school because he is from a prestigious university. Too many students to manage While it is, on the face of it, a good idea to have as many lawyers as possible, it should not translate to the Law School being inundated with too many students. It is not uncommon for a campus to have as many as 1, 500 (One Thousand Five Hundred) students. This does not allow for efficient teaching as students get to engage in other activities besides listening in class due to the sheer number of law graduates in the lecture hall. This in turn is reflected in the overall performance of the students in their Bar Final exams. The fact that the Nigerian Law School is the only institution allowed to admit students from faculties of law also contributes to this problem. There are clamors for private law schools or an adoption of the American model where each University runs its own law school. In the UK, from the original four Inns of Court, there are now ten institutions that run the Bar Vocational Course. “Legal Training in the United Kingdom from which that of Nigeria evolved has changed. Today, to become a Barrister in the UK, an aspirant undertakes the Bar Professional Training Course (Bar Vocational Course or BVC). The BVC is a graduate course that is completed by those wishing to be called to the Bar, i.e. to practice as a barrister in England and Wales. The ten institutes that run the BVC27 along with the four Inns of Court are often collectively referred to as ‘Bar School’. This vocational stage is the second of the three stages of legal education, the first being the academic stage and the third being the practical stage, i.e., pupilage” It is imperative that the Nigerian Law School is not burdened with the sole responsibility of training law students so as to reduce the number of students that it has to manage. Private Law Schools can therefore be established for this purpose. High Tuition Fees This is one of the problems that some critics have complained of, although it must be established from the start that I do not consider it a problem. Recently, Bamidele Aturu, a Human Rights Lawyer sued the Council of Legal Education over what he termed “excessive and oppressive” tuition fees. The suit, which was filed at the Federal High Court, was dismissed on October 18, 2013. As earlier stated, I am of the view that Law School fees are not too high. Nothing good comes easy and one must be prepared to pay for a sound education, particularly legal education. Lack of synergy with the faculties of law As earlier stated, there appears to be a slight disconnect between what the law school wants and what it is given by Nigerian Universities. On the surface, it looks as though the provision of a strict curriculum for Nigerian faculties of law by the Council of Legal Education suffices but some of the Nigerian faculties of law take liberties with this curriculum, offering courses that could only be described as distractions. By the time these students, having graduated, get to the Nigerian Law School, they meet a whole new world; one they had never imagined. This lack of synergy between the Nigerian Law School and faculties could also be identified as one of the reasons Nigerian law graduates fail at the law school, as the transition is not smooth enough. It is therefore important that the institutions of legal education cooperate and arrive at a meeting point. Chief Joe Kyari Gadzama MFR, SAN, FCIArb, a Bencher, is the founding/principal partner in J-K Gadzama LLP]]>
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