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Name: Oladapo, Oluwatoyin Olubukola
Campus: Lagos Campus (First Class), Director General’s Prize for First Class Students; Chief Debo Akande S.A.N., Prize for the Second Best Student in Criminal Litigation
University: Babcock University (Second Class Upper Division)
About: My name is Oluwatoyin Oladapo. I attended Babcock University where I graduated with a 2.1. I believe that everything is possible. This doesn’t translate to things being rosy all the time. Still everything is possible. Opportunities are always available but preparation makes you clinche it at the right time. I recently learnt this and I’m constantly being reminded of this. I like art in different expressions: music, poetry, books, dance, design and visual art. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
By God’s grace I am one of the twenty four people that had a first class from the Nigerian Law School during the 2015/2016 session. I will basically be sharing some experiences I had at law school, and how those experiences helped me have a very amazing result at the law school.
RUMOURS – Maybe partly true
My quest for success at the Nigerian Law School started even before I got into the Law School. I remember that while we were in the University we would always hear stories about how law school was seemingly tough, how challenging it was, how you had to read so much, and how you will probably never cover a lot of things. Hearing all of these made me scared and anxious even before I got in.
I had this anxiety up until I witnessed two phenomenal experiences from two different people. These were not just rumours but actual people I could relate with because I knew them first-hand. I’ll share these two experiences with you.
EXAMPLES – experiences that shaped mine
I remember someone from my University had graduated with a second class upper, went to the Nigerian Law School and had a first class. This broke whatever myth I had heard on the fact that Law School is difficult and it’s hard to get a better result than you did at the Undergraduate level. If you put your mind to having a great grade at the Law School, then it is definitely possible
The second experience was from someone who had a first class from my university and then had a first class from law school as well. This was also very different for me, because usually what you hear is that it is rare to have a first class in the university and go ahead to have a first class at the law school. Usually, people think that what you knew in the University is not sufficient to guide when you get to the Nigerian Law school.
These two experiences really changed my perspective. They quelled the anxiety I initially felt from the rumours. I was really like anything can happen, anything is possible just get to the law school first.
Apart from these two people, I also read random articles online as were shared by past law school students. All those articles with titles like: ‘how I survived the Nigerian Law school’, ‘My experience at the law school…’ yes, those ones. I read them. I was able to realise very early that different people had different experiences culminating in their individual successes. Success at the Law School can be achieved by anyone.
You can’t afford not to believe in yourself
Everything is possible. You can have a great result at the Nigerian law school regardless of what people before you have had and regardless of what people after you may have. I looked at people that had done so well and was able to get inspired by them. I was able to ask questions when needed and this really helped me.
Always choose Courage over fear
It’s not enough to say that you’re not afraid; you have to profess courage as well. Since feelings may be channelled towards positivity or negativity, I decided to channel my feelings towards positivity. For me, I was anxious, I would not like to say I was so fearful, because I already knew that everything was possible. But a part of me was still anxious. I had questions on whether what I wanted was really possible and whether I could do it. I knew that with God nothing was impossible but that anxiety was still there. What I did was to channel the anxiety I felt towards positivity. I was ready to do everything necessary to have an excellent result. I was ready to diligently attend classes, listen attentively in those classes and take notes as well. So, from the first week which was for induction on Lagos Campus, I listened to everything that was said. The funny thing is during that first week, lecturers shared tips on how to survive in law school. They talked about the need to attend classes, take notes, listen, ask questions and participate actively. From the induction week, I was able to understand how law school worked to an extent. Choose Courage over fear regardless of how many weeks are left to Bar Finals. It’s not over until it’s over.
Listen attentively to your lecturers
This cannot be over stressed. Sometimes, I even say that what your lecturers say are so sacred, you shouldn’t take them for granted. There were times in the exam hall when I randomly remembered certain things that were said in class. By God’s Grace, they really helped me. Listen to your lecturers even if it is one week before exams. Don’t stab lectures even right up till the 20th week. There may be the urge to stab lectures in order to ‘revise’ a few weeks to exams. Please don’t do it. Important things are said during revision classes in school. Revision classes were a time to be reminded of points that had been forgotten and unknown in some cases. Clarity was brought to knotty issues that may have been argued back and forth by students.
Don’t think there is time. There is no time. Nine months seem like a long time – you can even have a child in nine months. But nine months end as fast as you think law school started. So, start early. Attend lectures and solve your tasks. That was something that helped me, I solved my tasks daily as much as I could. This helped prepare me ahead of the next day’s class. It also helped me correct my answers during the interactive sessions in class. This really helped me. So many answers that I ordinarily thought were correct were modified or outrightly thrown out. This also helped me know how to answer questions properly and how to manage my time when writing.
Notes are important!
Take notes. Don’t say, ‘I’ll remember so it’s not necessary to write it down’. Please write it down. My notes brought clarity and helped me avoid unnecessary arguments as to what each lecturer actually said in class. Also you have to be careful of funny notes, you will see so many notes flying around, just be very careful. If you have judiciously taken your notes in class, you will be able to spot the notes that are wrong and contain false information. I vividly remember one time a friend and I were going through one of those notes. The contents of the note on salient issues said the exact opposite of what was said in class. What would’ve happened if we had relied on the notes is better left unimagined. Luckily, we had been warned to stay away from funny notes and tutorials. What you get from class in addition to textbooks that have been recommended for you are sufficient. Ask questions when you are not clear. All of these are sufficient.
Past questions are important!
Start early with past questions as well. Sometimes past questions may seem daunting but you don’t necessarily have to start solving them immediately. I didn’t start solving them immediately, but I went through them to see how questions were asked. Although, sometimes some of the answers were wrong but you’ll be able to tell if you’ve been attending classes diligently. You are also able to ask questions in class to clarify. Even though I wasn’t able to answer all of the past questions I had, i tried as much as possible to answer the many that I could because I started early.
Externship is still part of the Law school curriculum – It’s not over yet!
Just be true to yourself when filling your externship forms especially the part pertaining to location. Know if you read better at home or in school. Initially, I wanted to stay in school during the externship period because I thought it would be nice to be within the academic environment where I could share ideas with students from other campuses. However, after thinking properly about it, I came to the conclusion that I actually read better at home compared to when I read in school. School was a fort for revision purposes for me. Although this isn’t the case for some people, but I understood what worked for me and I maximised it. I was able to consolidate my notes during externship, put my notes together; cross my ts and dot my Is.
Optimise your externship period to the best of your abilities. Externship period is still part of law school. Attend court sessions and ask questions. Ask your judge/magistrate questions. Ask questions at the law firms too. All of these would give you clarity. I remember for me externship period was a time when everything basically came alive and became more meaningful. I saw practically everything we were taught in school in practice.
God’s grace helped me achieve all I have stated above. He carried me through everything. I know what prayers did for me even up till the point of exams. Some people say, and this is actually good, “Pray like you are not reading and read like you are not praying.” This balances everything. You need God when you get overwhelmed. There were so many times I got overwhelmed in school and thought I couldn’t go on. I wanted to settle. But I was always reminded of God’s promises and how He’s come through for me in the past. This kept me going. During bar finals i just prayed for direction. I knew that all the months of preparation led up to one week of writing. So I really wanted to be prepared for this. I prayed for direction and I was really guided. That’s something I cannot even take credit for. God helped me. All the Glory goes to Him. Please do not neglect God in your quest to make up for lost time.
Do not attempt to rigidly follow another person’s study regimen or experience. Be true to yourself and know what works for you. Don’t take anybody’s experience as straitjacket and infallible. This way, you are able to properly apply the experiences of other people and come out excellently at the end.