An Associate at Templars, Caleb Adebayo has given a piece of professional advice to aspirants at the Nigerian Law School.
In his piece titled, ” For Whom The Bar Tolls”, Mr. Adebayo warned the soon-to-be lawyers to refuse to be intimidated by the rueful stories of the bar finals, and the likes.
He among others urged them to take their time, pay attention to details, eat good food, etc., if they must come out in flying colours.
For Whom the Bar Tolls
Dear Law School Student,
I know the past nine months have been trying for you. I know how you have worked arduously; going at your books for long weeks, staying up late nights, reading, writing and re-reading, pushing yourself to understand concepts that undergraduate life didn’t prepare you for. I know, because I have been there.
I know how tough it must be training to be a lawyer, how demanding, how the past few months have called on every part of your being; at first exciting, even daring, and eventually exhausting. I know the days you have taken ill, the days you have blanked out in class and those days where you have simply thrown in the towel on those drafts, convinced it would only take a miracle to learn them. I know.
And now, it’s just a few days away- the period you have done all this hard work for. You would sit in a room for a few hours for five days, and viola, just like that, it would determine the rest of your life. I know the pressure you are under to hit a first class because you earned one at the University. I know the pressure you are under to get a first class because your University didn’t believe in you enough to give you one. I know nights you have prayed, then cried, then slept off. I understand the times when you tethered between sleeping and waking, until the lines blurred and you didn’t know if you were seeing corporate law in your sleep or you were sleeping while reading corporate law.
I have just a few things to tell you. I won’t say much because I’m certain you’ve heard a lot already, but I see you’re still scared. Fear tugs at you every now and then and you imagine what it will be if the exams don’t quite turn out as you expect. It’s time to push fear away. There’s a lot of it in the air at this time. The atmosphere is charged with worry, the fear is tangible, and as the days approach, many anticipate it with bated breath. This can’t be you. You have to find the courage to take this on, devoid of fear. Fear cripples. Your mind, your thoughts, your creativity. It gives you every reason to cower and tremble, but that’s not you. No, you kept the faith for these nine months. This is not where you give in. You have come this far; classes, tasks, tests, the bland food, the late nights. You’re just a few paces away. So tell fear that this is not it’s place. You have got nothing to be afraid of. You have attended classes, you have read, you have written exams in the past- you will be fine.
Refuse to be intimidated by the rueful stories of Bar finals, of the exams sicknesses, and deaths and psychiatric incidences and the tons of failures and the Big Brother script marker that breathes down everyone’s neck. Refuse to be jolted by certain people’s triumphant announcements of reading the syllabus 5 times and over. This is the point where you control what you hear and tell yourself that you can take this on, and win.
You also need to take care of yourself. Eat well and rest well. Take protein as much as you can, keep your immune system active and alive. Take health supplements if you have any, and lots of fruits. And never make the mistake of reading overnight and heading straight for the exam hall. Sleep is the save button on all your readings, and you know how bad it is when you don’t save a document and you shut down your laptop. Recovery is difficult. Respect your body and give it rest.
I understand that you are concerned that you keep reading and forgetting, so I’d say that in these last moments before the exams, you spend time discussing all you have read with friends you have built friendships and trust with over the past few months. You remember things better when you say them, so team up and discuss. Also, use all you read in conversations, in jokes (no matter how banal), as a looking glass through which you see everything going forward. You see, law is about solving problems. Look at the Bar finals that way. They will put a set of problems in front of you to solve. To solve them, you need to be armed with the relevant knowledge. So as you wake and sleep, revise what you read in your head as solutions to problems. Learn the principles and let them stick. The cases are a bonus.
And then when the day comes; when the bell of Bar finals tolls, wake up, say a prayer, freshen up and go early to the hall. And as you walk in, leave your fears and second-guessing at the door. Walk in, knowing you have done all there is to have been done. Whatever you have read up till then has to suffice, and you have to trust in it. Breathe easy and don’t be led into the pre-exam conversations that make you doubt what you know. That is not the time. Pay attention to detail, read carefully, don’t be intimidated by early starters, time yourself, choose your optional questions wisely ( be sure you can answer the most from it before you settle for it), write legibly and logically and remember how you were taught to answer questions. Attempt all questions required. Don’t leave anyone un-attempted (you’re a problem solver, remember?). When you’re done, leave what you’re done with, behind and with fresh determination, prepare for the next day. Don’t fall into the trap of crying over spilled milk, no matter how bad you think a paper was. No paper is to be sacrificed at the altar of another.
Understand that between now and then though, there is still time. Keep pushing, keep studying, keep going through your summary notes, keep picking at those details. I hear your Bar finals closely follow your MCQ- nothing we have ever seen before in this manner. Don’t let that scare you. You can do this, and you will. You have come this far. There’s nothing that can stop you now.
Remember too, there is life after Bar finals. In fact, that’s when it all really starts. So while you put all your energy into this, know that being a lawyer involves more than passing a series of exams. So start thinking like one now. See the exams, and then beyond. Understand that the people, the experiences and the learning, matter a lot.
And I know you have so much faith in God. This is one of those times when you hold on firm, because after all said and done, isn’t he the one in Whom all creation rests? So, I’d be praying for you, and I’m sure you’d be praying too. And I know God will crown all your efforts with success.
So for whom does the Bar toll? It tolls for all of you. But this tolling is not of loss, sadness or despondency, it is of triumph, of success, of victory. And I’m here waiting, with open arms, to welcome you to the Bar.
My very best,
Caleb Adebayo (Associate, Templars)
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