Nigeria has produced many renowned and successful lawyers over the years. These include the late Adeyemo Alakija and Babatunji Olowofoyeku. Others who are still alive and influential include Oluwafemi Fani-Kayode, Audu Maikori and Babafemi Badejo.
Nigerian women have also not been left behind. You are sure to have recently read headlines saying Jennifer Douglas Abubakar is called to Bar. This remarkable lady is the wife of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, and her call to the Nigerian bar is just one of her many achievements.
If you wish to follow these famous individuals’ footsteps and build an illustrious career for yourself in the legal profession in Nigeria, you have to be prepared to work hard. A career in law calls for a lot of dedication. It can be both demanding and challenging, and you will need to be at the top of your game at all times. This article examines some of the qualifications and experience you will need to launch your career in this field.
As an aspiring lawyer in Nigeria, your education will start at the university. There are numerous universities around the country where you can obtain you qualifying law degree. However, before being admitted into these institutions, you should have completed your secondary school education. Additionally, you need to have passed the West African Senior School Certificate Exam and have at least five ‘O’ level credit passes in social science and arts subjects under your belt. Subjects such as English Literature and Mathematics carry a lot of weight, and you will need to perform exceptionally well in them.
Once you have satisfied the requirements above, you can be accepted into the faculties of law in a range of Nigerian universities. This can happen in two main ways: by direct entry into the universities or by taking the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Exam (UTME). In order to qualify for a direct entry, you need to have a two-year diploma in law, a Higher National Diploma in any field or a university degree in a discipline other than law. This is in addition to your ‘O’ level qualifications.
You can expect to take five years to study for a law degree in Nigeria. During the course of your studies, you will be required to undertake 12 compulsory core law courses and also 11 optional ones. Obtain a ‘pass’ grade at the completion of your undergraduate studies and you will be awarded an LL.B Bachelor of Laws Degree.
Admission to the legal profession
After graduation, you will be required to proceed to the Nigerian Law School for vocational training. This mandatory study takes one year and equips you with the knowledge and practical skills necessary to make you a barrister.
Once you pass your Bar final examinations, you will receive a qualifying certificate from the Law School, which you can present to the Body of Benchers in order to be issued with a Certificate of Call to the Bar. This call to the Nigerian Bar formally qualifies you to practice as an advocate or solicitor in the country.
As you can see, the process of getting into the law profession in Nigeria is challenging. However, if you persevere to the end, you are sure to have a very rewarding career.