By Tobi Michael Babalola*
Hello, to those currently at the Nigerian Law School. I’m sharing with you my experience during the NLS two months externship and how you can make excellent use of the opportunity to gain practical knowledge for your Bar Examinations and in the long run your legal career.
The Externship programme is a part of the Nigerian Law School curriculum to add practical experience to what is taught within the four walls of your NLS classroom. The programme is divided into two invaluable learning experiences to wit; the court room externship, which comes first followed immediately by the chamber/law firm externship. At the end of this programme, NLS students are made to undergo a portfolio assessment to examine them on what they have learnt during the programme. This is also a prerequisite for being called to the Nigerian Bar.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
I believe the under listed steps have been taken and you’ve all received your placements:
-Fill the placement forms for both court and chamber attachments. N. B: The system of choosing your preferred local government and state is intentionally made flexible for your convenience.
-Submit the forms
-Get your placement notifications from NLS
-COMPLAINTS? inform your NLS campus Externship coordinator or Group mentor, as the case may be based on the information given by your campus coordinator or Directors.
-Listen to the instructions given and obey. (Many, but important, especially to avoid hiccups during your portfolio assessment).
For example – Making copies of work done during the programme; submitting a signed and up-to-date log book; filled assessment form accompanied by a letter & a copy of your attendance list to be in a sealed envelope from your chamber. Confirm if a court assessment is also required.
-Avoid rumors (listening to and spreading rumors). Get your instructions directly from the authorities which will be communicated to your various group heads or the Chairman Students Representative Council, as the case may be.
MYTHS ABOUT NLS EXTERNSHIP PLACEMENTS
Below, are some stories you hear about the Externship placements. Though not myths in all cases but in most cases. My colleagues may have shared some of these with you, bear in mind that this is subjective and wisdom is profitable to direct.
- I have to get into one of these top chambers, so that I can be retained after law school. True, but not every time. If this is your reason for going to that top chamber, why not have a better perspective like learning the work culture of this firm that makes them top, gaining relevant skills because for all you know a better opportunity awaits you after law school and these skills will come in handy.
- Some judges and chambers are prepared to work you out. Really!!!? You just have to manage your time properly. No knowledge is a waste. Remember, “Knowledge empowers”.
- I should get a stipend of 5 million Naira from my chambers after the externship programme. Don’t think it! Don’t say it! Not all law firms pay that stipend. As you said, it’s just a stipend. Max 100,000 Naira.
- I can write jargon in my log book, nobody is gonna read it. Hmm hmm, you’re on the wrong track Bruv! It may have worked for your predecessors but your portfolio assessment may not be detailed like theirs. There’s a saying that: Taiwo and Kehinde (twins) were born on the same day but have different destinies.