April 6th, 2018.
Convener of the programme; Abdullahi Abdulhakeem Ago
Student Union President, Reedof, other stakeholders of the Union stormed an academic seminar “Beyond Matriculation,” which held at the Faculty of Law moot court, Wednesday, 4th of April.
The programme organized by Abdullahi Abdulhakeem Ago — a part four student of Combined Law — who was inspired to open the eyes of his colleagues to the opportunities that abound in the legal profession, and how they can take full advantage thereof, towards becoming successful in their chosen area of specialization.
Speaking on the theme of the event, the Student Union President, Sen. Adekunbi Ademola Alexander, noted that being a law student is not the ultimate. He identified factors such as academic focus and time management, extracurricular activities, and discipline as crucial to realizing ambition or future aspirations in the legal profession.
While giving a synopsis of his lecture to our correspondent, Sen. Kunbi said: “…I spoke to them about how…primarily, why there might be a lot of hype, a lot of euphoria after having gotten into law and you’re one of the black and white people on campus. But that ultimately, that is not the most important thing. And I broke down three elements that I consider to be the most important things on campus.
“The first one is academic focus. Despite the fact that a lot of people say different things about the importance or otherwise of a law degree, we all admit our educational system is faulty. But ultimately, I explained to them that there are a lot of opportunities in life, in terms of when you want to win a scholarship, when you want to get a fellowship to this or that, requires some level of academic performance…
“They usually have some kind of benchmark and if you don’t meet it, regardless of whatever skill you have in other areas, it becomes difficult to cross that hurdle. Though there might be a lot of distractions, though I’m not in a proper capacity to come and speak to them about whether or not they should party, or have a girlfriend, or whatever other things.
“The point or something I can preach about, even though I’m not perfect about it, is also time management. You know, prioritizing and understanding what to use the 24 hours in a day for.
“The second element is extracurriculars, about how in order to have a rounded personality and a rounded CV, which will enable to access more opportunities, which will enable you to participate in other things apart from academics. So I gave suggestions like JCI, like Rotaract, like UCJ, like AISEC, like Union politics. About how, as a law student, you should participate in leadership.
“I gave them the example about how, across the world, more than 40% of legislators are usually lawyers. And ultimately, lawyers being that we know the law, and the sociological environmental factors that affect society and the law, we should be at the forefront of things like that…
“The last thing was discipline. And this was hinged on the fact that, regardless of how well one excels in the academia or extracurricular activities, a single act of misconduct can result in all that being gone in the snap of the fingers. I mean, somebody is caught cheating…no matter how desperate they are to pass, or no matter how angry they are…no matter how broke they are at any point in time, the temptation to do something illegal must be resisted because, it will result in the cancellation of whatever pride…you know, drawing back to the initial element that if you want to graduate in flying colours, if you want to graduate at all, you must ensure to stay on the right side of the law at any point in time”, he concluded.
A university don, Dr A.K.A Saddam, did justice to the topic, ‘Unveiling the Marking Scheme’. He disclosed the nitty-gritty of the marking scheme of the law faculty to the participants. He spoke based on his wealth of experience as a law lecturer.
The third speaker, Abolarin Muhammad, who is also the President of Unilorin Debate Club, discussed the topic, ‘Legal Profession: More than Just Litigation’. His discussion was full of insights on other lucrative areas that exist in the legal profession beyond litigation.
In his speech, Abolarin corrected the notion to the effect that the legal profession is all about litigation. “There’s a problem with the mindset that the legal profession is tied to litigation. It’s a wrong perception…”, he clarified.
Muhammad also highlighted the plight of young lawyers in his lecture. He lamented bitterly about the fact that young lawyers do not enjoy adequate protection under the extant laws in Nigeria. He cited gross underpayment as one of the challenges facing young wigs in the country, and went further to do a comparative analysis between the legal systems in Nigeria and the United Kingdom as backed up by statistical data on the volume of law graduates churned out from law school each year among other sundry issues.
As a way out of the woods, the leader of the Debate Club stated that asides litigation, aspiring lawyers can also be successful by being judges, magistrates, court clerks, company secretary, arbitration, human resource managers, politicians etc. “The moment you identify your career path, start pursuing your career from your undergraduate days”, he advised.
The multiple award winning speaker, concluded his lecture by quoting the words of Chief Niyi Akkntola SAN, who said that, “lawyers in Nigeria are yet to key into what is happening in the legal profession of developed countries”.
The fourth speaker and Lord Advocate of Liberty Chambers, Faculty of Law (Unilorin), Jimoh Omotayo SAU, discussed the topic, “Learning the Law Beyond the Four Walls of the Class”.
According to Omotayo, “five years is just too much a time to restrict yourself to what is being taught in the classroom”. He further stated that “first class law students are not necessarily first class lawyers”, the difference of which, according to him, lies in the application of law, not just knowing the law or where to find it.
Thus, Omotayo was of the opinion that, “in order to apply the law, you have to go beyond what is being taught in the class. The biggest law firms in Nigeria earn their income from corporate practice”. He corroborated his argument with active participation in extracurricular activities like the Tax Club, Arbitration Club, Oil and Gas Club among others.
Mr ‘Tayo concluded his speech saying, “the classroom will not teach you arbitration procedure…the career market is crowded, you don’t have to restrict yourself to the classroom.”
In a chat with our correspondent, the convener of the event, Mr Abdullahi Abdulhakeem Ago, revealed the factor that inspired him to put together such a programme, and also expressed his joy and challenges to UCJ, UNILORIN.
According to him, his major motivation was the need to get the freshmen familiar with the faculty system and the university community, as well as opening their minds to the door of opportunities that exist in the legal profession. Returning law students were not left out in the scheme of things. According to Ago, the event was also designed to make them appreciate the beauty of the legal profession.
Mr Abdullahi identified time constraints, getting approval from the faculty authority, and securing the venue for the event, as some of the challenges he encountered in the course of executing the programme.
In his opinion, Abdulhakeem believes that the objective of the programme has been achieved in the sense that, about 250 participants attended the seminar, as against the initially projected figure of 200 participants.
Dignitaries that graced the occasion were: the Student Union President, Adebisi Abimbola Ridwanullah (Reedorf); the Chief Justice of the Student Union Court, Lord Khan; the President, Law Students’ Society (Unilorin), Ademu Desmond; and the Attorney General, Unilorin Student Union, Habeebullah Morakinyo Olasupo SAU.
Others include all Justices of the SU Court; all Heads of Chambers, Faculty of Law (Unilorin); Law students from Alikmah University, Ilorin; among others.
OSUJI, Chima Francis