Maximizing Your University Years: the undergraduate’s guide to legal excellence

It is no gainsaying that the undergraduate years of law students are germane to their overall development. These years not only represent a key part of the student’s self-growth but also shapes his approach to life.  In fact, to a very large extent, how you, as a student, position yourself during these university years has an overwhelming influence on your life after school. So, if you can determine how best to position yourself, you would be a step ahead in maximizing your undergraduate years.

While there are no hard and fast rules as to maximizing these years, there are, in the very least, helpful tips that can set you on the right course. And whether you are in year 1 or 5, it is never too late to start. It’s like the saying goes: the right time to start was years ago, but the second right time is now.

Be diligent with your studies

First things first, work on getting good grades during your undergraduate years. Do not fall into the category of those who write off school examinations as not being the “true test of knowledge”. This notion is one that often pushes students to adopt a lackadaisical attitude to their academics. The students then start to believe that being active in other extra-curricular activities somehow justifies their nonchalant attitude to their studies. However, the question that this category of students refuses to answer is why not do both; Why can’t you be a diligent law student and an astute participant in extra-curricular activities?

Therefore, do not get sucked in by those that preach against good grades. As a law student, you need your grades. And most importantly, since you lose nothing by chasing them, why not chase them excellently and passionately!

Source and apply for opportunities

If you must fully maximize your years as an undergraduate, then you must constantly be on the lookout for opportunities. The modern-day law student is not one that sleeps on opportunities and allows them to pass by. Even if the opportunity does not present itself as a clear-cut one, you source it out and then ensure you take advantage of it. One interesting thing about the world of today is that there are several opportunities out there for undergraduate students which have the capacity to change your life and the only way you would know is if you reach out and try.  More so, these opportunities – which may be conferences, scholar programs, essay competitions, internships – help increase the quality of your experience. They expose you to the framework of a life outside the classroom and this is a key factor in knowing the purposeful law student.

Be active in student organizations

In addition, plan your time well enough to accommodate law student organizations that may be interesting to you. These organizations are always charged with a specific task which they carry out. They include the Moot and Mock Society meant for mooting competitions; the Literary and Debating Society meant for debating the International Law Students’ Association, the Tax Club, the Intellectual Property Club, the Junior Chambers’ International, and several other more. Asides sharpening your skill on the specific purpose of these organizations, they further help you with your leadership skills which are very important.

The longer you spend being diligent in these student organizations, the more chances you have of being elected or appointed to handle tasks and manage responsibilities. As a student and future lawyer, you can learn a lot from these tasks, responsibilities, especially with regard to how you handle your relationship with people. The ethics you develop from the proper management of tasks in your student organizations will influence your work ethic later as a lawyer.

Asides this, as a committed member of these organizations, you can get the opportunity of meeting top players in the law industry. As such, you see that the benefits of joining these organizations while you find a balance with your academics are simply immeasurable.

Take online courses

Again, the modern day law student does not sleep on avenues which they can use to boost their CV. There are tons of courses online which you can conveniently take during your undergraduate years and get certified for. Taking online courses basically does two things for you: for one, it equips you with a wider knowledge of the law, and secondly, it adds value to your CV. It indicates to recruiters – especially for internships – that you are not an average law student.

Apply for undergraduate internships

Apply for internship opportunities with different firms in the industry. These internships offer you the avenue to get a hands-on and practical approach to how the law is practised. They provide you with the opportunity to be in the environment in which you hope to later work. Regardless of whether the internship is paid or not, what should be a priority to you is the experience, the people you would meet and what you would learn. Also, interning with firms further leaves your CV robust and attractive – a sign of a hardworking law student.

Equally important is the fact internships give you the opportunity to test out if you really want to study law. Seeing the numerous benefits, the question again is: why not apply for the internship programs? In most cases, all you need do is to forward your CV and Cover Letter to the firm which you intend to intern. It is, however, always competitive getting internship with top law firms, so you would have to tighten your belt.

Finally, as an undergraduate myself, I have found out that in maximizing your years as an undergraduate law student, it is most important that you know how to find the balance. While it is good to be versatile and engage in all the above-stated things, it is more important that you master the art of ensuring that one does not affect the other (read how here). Once this is reasonably understood, then getting the best out of your years becomes effortless.

Habeeb Asudemade is a 400L law student and an award-winning writer with interests in Law, Leadership, Business and Community Service. He is a 2019 Nigeria Higher Education Foundation (NHEF) scholar who has interned with corporate law firms in Nigeria.

In 2018, he was selected to represent his University at the Impact Africa Intercontinental British Parliamentary Debate Championship in Kumasi, Ghana where the University placed first runner-up. Also, in 2019, he was selected to represent his University at the John H Jackson European Law Students Association Moot Court Competition on World Trade Organization Law in Nairobi, Kenya.

He is also a co-founder and business development head of Tell! – a content development company and an alumnus of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program.


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