From this week, most public universities in Nigeria will proceed on an indefinite strike action, due to the failure of the Federal Government to implement the 2009 Agreement, which was borne out of a strike action, and renegotiated in 2013, to end another strike action.
Its details are not our concern here. Rather, it’s the ultimate losers; the students. To be more specific, law students. Because of this strike action, exams have been either cut short or suspended (making all the preparation a waste). Exam results cannot be processed. Final year students or graduates who are supposed to be putting final touches to their projects/long essays, or getting cleared for law school/youth service, have been put on hold. They can’t move forward or backward. If historical antecedent is anything to go by (hopefully not), this strike could last up to 6 months. It’s a bad situation to say the least.
So what is the effect of this? The average law undergraduate, like all his other peers, now has a lot of unwanted time that he must make the most of. This leads to the purpose of this article. In this piece, I’ll be discussing on some activities law students can get involved in during the ‘holiday’ to add value to themselves.
This is definitely the number one thing on the minds of most law students, but there’s no harm in rehashing it. Apart from just giving you a clearer image of the practice of law (if you intern at a law firm), internships help to build personal discipline and organizational skills, necessary for success, both in and out of school. This comes from having to juggle different assignments along with day to day activities at the office. It can also bring out the detail hawk in you. I have a friend who interned in an accounting firm and almost cost her boss a client because of an error in the report she was to prepare. Suffice it to say, she’s learnt her lesson, and will definitely be more careful when handling her own clients in future.
Furthermore, internship opportunities help you get a clearer the career path you want to ply. Is litigation your thing? Should you move to Lagos, where it seems the money is, or just practice in Ogun State? In short, many will attest to the fact that internship opportunities, even if it was just one, helped them to define their career goals.
The sad truth is that we all cannot get internship opportunities, at the same time. For a more in depth discussion on this, read ‘Ask LE – Why am I not getting any internships?’.
Be it on a self-employed basis, or working under someone, getting involved in business will place similar demands on you like an internship would. Speaking from experience, earning money for the things I do has made me appreciate how it is earned and more spendthrift about how it is spent. Before I resumed as a law freshman in my current university, I was a teacher at a local primary school. Coincidentally, there was an ASUU strike then. I was drafted to teach the Primary One class. It was there I learnt the ability to explain things in a conversational manner, something that has proved an asset for me since then as a content creator. After all, it was Albert Einstein that said,
‘If you cannot explain something to a 6-year old, then you don’t understand it at all.’
But that was the enjoyable part of the job. Most of my time, was spent writing lesson notes that had to conform to the standard (or they would be rejected), grade assignments, and of course, to use the cane. From this I learnt that no form of employment, despite how glamorous it might look, is devoid of its ugly aspects. You have to take the bad with the good.
Conferences & Seminars
Conferences and seminars are definitely a viable platform for alternative education and networking. Usually, school work gets in the way of us attending them as we please, but now there’s no excuse. Whether political, academic, economic, or legal, conferences usually feature some of the best in their field who come to give away a chunk of their knowledge and experience gathered over the years, within a few hours, at little or no cost. Apart from this, they are veritable platforms for making new friends who share similar interests and even leaders in the field who can build a relationship with.
Have you been targeting a person whom you would like to have as a mentor? Try to find out if the person has any speaking engagements and attend them. After the event, walk up to the person and share your insights about what was discussed before going into your main reason. This is typically what is called ‘famzing’. But we all have to do it at some point. Most likely, the person would be in a more agreeable mood, since he just finished giving a lecture or speech.
But what if you’re not even sure where to start from to find out what events are happening. In that case, Eventbrite.com is your friend. This website is like a giant online billboard informing you of all the latest events, be it in the arts, music, technology, networking, master classes, and even ‘owambes’. Based on your location, it shows you events that you can attend, most of which are free, so you only have to worry about transportation cost. It is also available as an Android app for ease of access.
An indefinite strike from ASUU gives the best opportunity to acquire money-making skills and certifications that add value to a CV apart from the LL.B. With no schoolwork taking most of your time, you can pour your energies and time into adding a new money-spinning ability to your skillset. There are so many to choose from, but I would personally recommend coding or computer language, because of its increasing influence in not just legal profession, but generally all professional callings.
If you follow the online discourse about increasing role of robots, AI (Artificial Intelligence), and the digital media in our world, they usually end with one grim prediction; many lawyers, doctors, accountants and the like are going to lose their jobs to robots and smartphone apps in the coming years.
There are now legal practice management software that do all the research for your case. With that job taken, what is left for the intern and first year associate? They are also applications that can draft any kind of contract. The user only has to input the relevant facts of the transaction. With that done, what will become of the solicitor? And this is just for the legal profession. Other disciplines are also facing their own battles. The only alternative is for lawyers to learn how to manipulate the tools that threaten their employment, hence, coding.
Luckily, there are over 20 major computer languages to choose from, based on your interest. You could learn these languages as courses at coding schools in physical establishments or as an online distance learning course.
To wrap up this article, the words of Benjamin Franklin will be poignant, when he said:
‘Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of’
Akintunde Ifeanyichukwu Agunbiade is a 400-Level student of the Faculty of Law, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ife. He is a decorated public speaker, having represented his Faculty and the school in national debates, and winning the award for “Debater of the Year”, from the Law Students’ Society, OAU, for the 2015/2016 Session. He is also a member of the Students’ Representative Council (Parliament of the Students’ Union), representing the Faculty of Law. He participated in the formation of the Tax Club, Intellectual Property Law Club, and the ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) Society. He also led the team that drafted the constitution of the Tax Club within 8 days.