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Name: Uchechi Ngonadi
Campus: Abuja Campus (First Class)
University: University of Manchester (Second Class Upper)
About: Uche is from the Nnewi north LGA of Anambra state. She’s the fourth of five children and finished her secondary school education at Caleb International College, Lekki. For 6th form, she attended Bridgehouse College, Ikoyi and went on achieve her LLB degree at the University of Manchester, United Kingdom. She’s fun, funny and fun to be with. Reading and listening to music are two things she enjoys doing. She’s big on friendship and relationships, the biggest of which is her relationship with Christ. She’s going to be a household name soon, so watch out. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
My law school experience started with Bar 1, precisely on 22nd June, 2015 and I had just come back from my final exams at my University on the 16th of June, less than a week earlier. Before I actually started my law school journey, I had read A LOT about law school from blogs and tweets and what not. I had stalked a few people like me who had applied and we were pretty much all the same. Prior to law school, I wasn’t really apprehensive about being in law school, because I am just the kind of person to deal with problems as they arise. However, I knew two things. 1: I was going to do well (wasn’t really bothered about how well) and 2: I was going to make friends. As you may have guessed, I like making friends.
Anyway, lo and behold, June 22nd 2015 was upon us and I travelled to Abuja with a friend of mine who had attended my university as well. The registration process was stressful (as I anticipated) but I got registered and that was that. The rest of bar 1 was a breeze and looking back now, I shouldn’t have stressed so much about it.
Now Bar 2. LOL. The real struggle. Don’t let anyone deceive you into thinking law school isn’t that deep. IT’S THAT DEEP. Of course we’re all different and we handle things differently but law school is stressful unless of course you don’t care and you just want to fail (which shouldn’t be. Even if you’re never going to practice law, make sure you go through law school once and only once. Because it’s more difficult the second time around and your morale is lower I assume). Anyway, it was nothing like bar 1 and I was a bit gobsmacked by how much INFORMATION is disseminated in one week. It’s very overwhelming staying on top of things and my advice will be to find a rhythm early and stick with it. If you’re into making notes, make notes. If you’re going to study before each class, stick to that. Don’t be so bothered by what other people are doing or have covered if not you’ll drown in a sea of self-pity. Before I move on, make sure you try as much as possible to stay on top of things. Missing classes is not ADVISABLE unless it’s absolutely unavoidable. If you miss a class, you’ve missed a whole topic and the following topic will be strange, because the topics build upon each other. Case in point: if you miss pre-incorporation, you’re going to find incorporation of companies a lot harder to understand (unless of course you read before you miss the class or catch up). I never really missed classes (only missed two classes on Fridays, because Law in Practice is just that boring sometimes) but I never ever missed Monday-Thursday. For me classes made the topic familiar. They served as a sort of mind map to aid my studying. During my personal study, I filled in the gaps. I practised my drafts each week for each class. Piling your drafts for exam period is a very bad idea because you won’t be able to check for mistakes. If you try the drafts before the class, you’re able to correct them as the lectures are going in. Finally, classes go by really quickly. 20 weeks seems like a long time at the beginning, but it’s really not that long. Do as much as you can, when you can.
I did my externship in Lagos. Federal High Court Ikoyi and Aelex Solicitors, also in Ikoyi. Before externship started, we had a two-week break, which served as a break from law school and everything that came with it. I didn’t study, I didn’t make notes, I didn’t have discussions, I did absolutely nothing and it felt great. It was just a time for me to really relax before the real work started and to plan how I was going to go about my studying. As I’ve noted twice now, we’re different and we operate differently. If you feel you can’t relax, because you haven’t done enough, then don’t. I could relax because I hadn’t been slacking during classes. I’m not the note making type therefore that didn’t waste my time. My drafts were up to date and I had the e notes which float around in law school. I’m sure you’ll come across a few. Its noteworthy that during the session though, I attended Barrister Best tutorials, (he’s based in Abuja) and he was a tremendous help. We dealt with the tasks in the lesson plan before each class and we could ask questions. If you’re leaning towards joining a tutorial group, go for it. I attended Barrister Best from the beginning, (November 2015) to the end (September 2016). I am not one to half ass anything, so anything I did, I did it well. At this point I had made quite a few friends and they helped me along the way. I asked random questions that came to mind at any time and if none of us knew, we checked our books and if those didn’t help we asked lecturers. Sidenote: learn how to juggle friends who aren’t as motivated as you. For me, a lot of my friends were just like me, (God handled that for me) and I didn’t have issues in that regard.
During externship, I studied after court and during and after office hours for law office attachment. I always took a nap before studying just to refresh my brain because I believe a rested brain takes in more in 1 hour than a stressed brain does in 3 hours. I had a time table that I stuck to like butter to bread. My time table was very detailed and precise (it included topics and hours and time for resting) I practised past questions as well as memorised cases. Read principles, cases and sections simultaneously. Don’t leave anything for later. Later may never actually come.
When externship was over (it went by quickly) I just continued what I was already doing. Studying, Past Questions and discussions. Repeat. A lot of that time was spent talking about topics that I didn’t understand with my friends. Don’t underestimate group discussions. They help you understand stuff. Whenever I helped someone else understand a topic or a draft, it made it stick even better because I’d remember explaining it to that person. Don’t be stingy with knowledge. Law school isn’t a competition.
When exams rolled around I wasn’t overwhelmed (I was scared at times but fear didn’t stop me from doing what I needed to do), I was prepared and I knew I was going to pass (there’s a light joke in law school that if you’ve managed to come for all the classes, then you’ve defeated ‘pass’). Take care of yourself and sleep well because writing exams all through the week is stressful. Don’t focus too much on what you didn’t do or post exam conference. It doesn’t change anything. How well I was going to pass was based on God and God alone. Side note: I am extremely spiritual. I knew (still do) that I am a child of God so failure was out of the question. One bible verse that stuck with me through law school was Hebrews 10:23 (Hold Unswervingly to the hope we profess, because He who promised is faithful)
September 2nd 2016, I finished my bar exams. I’m not the type to anxiously wait for results lol. Once I’m done with exams, I forget about them. A part of that stems from me never going into an exam under prepared and knowing God will always come through for me. I call it God’fidence. Plus I don’t really see the point of stressing about something you can’t change. Don’t worry about problems that haven’t arisen. Results came out on October 14th 2016, a day I will never forget in my life. As you can imagine, it was a good day. Not only did I do well, I knew I will never have cause to go through it again.
Finally, law school is stressful but not impossible. It goes by QUICKLY. Make the most of it. Put God first and He’ll put you first. Work hard. Be diligent. Be disciplined. Don’t be so hard on yourself when you fail past questions (you will sometimes). Don’t have an attitude of defeat. Don’t compare yourself to other people. Ignore those people who quote the whole of CAMA in class or during discussions. It’s not about cramming sections. Do not be deceived. God bless you!