Editor’s Note: As the new session of the Nigerian Law School commences, new students will find this platform very resourceful. Overview of the Law School especially presents an elaborate but yet concise summary of the law school experience and answers most questions that new students usually have. We believe that there is value in providing several perspectives and sometimes, even nuanced presentations of topics that we have featured in the past. Grace’s article presents reflections on her experience as a student in the 2016/2017 set of NLS and will be a useful read.
The 2017/2018 session of the Nigerian Law School (NLS) will start soon, and some of the new students will travel out of their cities of residence to either Lagos, Enugu, Kano, Yenagoa, Yola or Abuja – the headquarters of NLS. For some of the students, this may be the first visit the city that hosts the law school, and some may have concerns because of the relocation. There is, however, nothing to fear as life in the law school is largely the same as living in the university with a few differences. While the university offers the opportunity of interacting with students in other disciplines, law school doesn’t, and only aspirants to the Nigerian Bar are present on the NLS campus. Also, activities in the NLS can be quite monotonous and probably more rigorous than any period of study you may have had before the law school. So buckle up!
NLS provides accommodation for students in all the campuses as the cost of housing is included in the fees so generally, students do not have to pay additional fees for housing. However, better furnished and more convenient hostel accommodations are available on some campuses at an extra cost. Depending on the campus, the number of occupants in a room range from 2 to about 8. It would be helpful to find out from former students about the housing policy in the campus to where NLS posts you. Also, there are off-campus accommodation facilities, and students who have family in the city where their campus is located may also operate from home.
Unlike in the university where students are allowed to prepare their meals in the hostels, the NLS completely outlaws cooking in the hostel. In some campuses, this extends even to the use of electrical appliances including electric irons, kettles, boiling rings and allied appliances.
There are cafeterias within and outside each law school campus providing various dishes on their menus to students at a fee. I think this is the most intriguing aspect of life in the law school. It is typical to spend days trying out different foods at different cafeterias to determine what your preferences would be over the first few months at the law school. It usually takes some weeks for most students to adapt to the food. It is advisable to start with cuisine that one is comfortable with and gradually try out other types of food. A few people might break down in the early days and weeks of the NLS programme because of the change in environment and the new routine but also because some students do not adopt healthy feeding habits or do not adapt to the food available in the law school. Students must pay attention to their nutrition.
The lecture is a critical aspect of the NLS program. Lectures start in most campuses at 9.00am and end at different times the earliest being 1:30 pm and the latest, usually in the Lagos campus, between 3 pm and p.m. Lectures usually start with an overview of the day’s topic followed by group discussions based on the tasks given ahead of each class. The Lagos campus is a bit different in this wise; after the overview in Lagos, groups make presentations which are usually answers to the assignments for the class. The group meetings in Lagos hold on the eve of every class. Frankly, the lectures at the law school get can very overwhelming, and this fact stays regardless of whether lectures end at 2 pm or 4 pm. Each day, the lecturers treat a new topic in the course and most of the time, the first encounter with the themes and the concepts are during the group meetings or personal study ahead of the class.
Lectures usually have an interesting twist to the lectures, especially during the group discussions where students and teachers share dissenting opinions which may lead to arguments and during the question-and-answer session.
Law school is not all lectures and studying; there is time to socialize. The law school itself includes social programmes in the calendar. These programmes include the cocktails and the law dinners. There are two cocktails- one at the beginning of the session and the other on the last day of exams. The law dinners are also an avenue to let out some steam and have fun. Despite the importance placed on the dinners in the curriculum, there is no rule prohibiting a photo session with friends (of course, not during the dinner itself!)
You can also visit places of interest either alone or with friends. The law school campuses (excluding Lagos) are far away from the city. Therefore a visit to the major mall in the state may count as ‘going out’ (in my opinion). And you get to evaluate the way of life of the locals in the state and appreciate better the cultural diversity of Nigeria.
I guess the most asked question for a law school student is “where does all the time go?’ Twenty-four hours would seem incredibly short. Just when you are glad that the weekend is around the corner, you will have to chide yourself on Sunday night or Monday morning if you spent your weekend as planned. Yes, it can get that serious. And the cycle continues until lectures are over and the externship rolls around. Three months of externship can look like a long time, and you would only discover how short that period is when you have to return to school.
One tip to pulling through law school is: keep a balanced state of mind, health and keep the right circle of friends. Regardless of what happens, law school is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and it behooves on every student to make the most out of it by enjoying each moment however arduous it may seem. I wish you an enriching and exciting law school experience!
Grace Gureje is a First Class graduate of the University of Lagos where she obtained her LL.B in 2016. She recently completed her Bar Finals at the Nigerian Law School. She aims to be a notable corporate and environmental lawyer and believes strongly in the Nigerian dream. She loves singing, reading, and writing.