Solutions To The Problems Of Legal Education In Nigeria

Solutions To The Problems Of Legal Education In Nigeria

Solutions To The Problems Of Legal Education In Nigeria.
By Nwakor Oluchukwu Gospel

INTRODUCTION
As much as it is fair to say that Legal Education in Nigeria is progressive, one cannot fail to notice some of the evils plagued with the process visibly showing on students at the University level and in the Nigerian Law School. Across various Universities, the process of raising lawyers is measured with the information made available to these students in class, in books, journals, in the various moot and mock competitions, and other ways. It is these methods of administering legal knowledge that is associated with the problems which I will identify below and attempt workable solutions. I must say, some of the problems I have identified were gathered from my personal experience while in the University of Uyo, and experience shared with some friends in other schools.
1. PROBLEM OF NON PASSIONATE LECTURERS: It is sad that some law lecturers across various Universities are not passionate about developing their students. They are more interested in being paid and also using the students to develop their own pockets and career. Some also do not have enough practical knowledge to drive home their points while lecturing.
This problem can be handled by a thorough scrutiny of lecturers before employment and ascertaining their readiness to impact knowledge. It’s also advised to engage law lecturers with adequate practical knowledge of what they are teaching, or at least, who are willing to develop while on the job. Lecturers should also adopt different methods of teaching in order to enable understanding and produce a quality legal education. I must mention here Prof. Mojisola Eseyin, a Professor of Jurisprudence and International Law who adopted a very practical and dramatic method of teaching a ‘difficult-to-understand’ jurisprudence, through her symposiums, Youtube channel and various means.
2. NON UPDATED CURRICULUM FOR UNIVERSITIES: A vivid study of some
Faculty of Law courses across various Universities in Nigeria will reveal how backward we are in legal exposure, and the irrelevance of some courses still being taught till date. This is another problem.
As a solution, I recommended that there should be a reform and update on the academic courses / syllabus available for law students to include Space Law, Intellectual Property Law, Technology Law, Sports Law, Health Law, etc. More so, let it be uniformed and targeted towards contemporary legal issues.
Again, lecturers while teaching those outdated courses, can actually tilt their directions to more recent happenings and try to link them successfully pending the updates by the NUC, some lecturers are already adopting this method.
Another approach to tackling this problem can be the creation of clubs or hubs, where the desired courses are not available in the syllabus. For instance, a school that does not teach Space Law, can encourage the students to create a Space Law Club where interested students can join and then an expert in the field, whether in the school or not can be invited at intervals to educate the students on the subject matter.
INADEQUATE EDUCATION ON TECHNOLOGY: It is obvious that technology is fast rising and taking over various sectors of the world. The legal profession is not left behind. Despite this amazing development, Universities are not completely catching up. Students are forced to learn about technology on their own. This has resulted in low interest of Lawyers in Promoting technology. They are more interested in just using available features. This is a big problem because tech is the future. Sadly, law students are not fully acquainted with tech updates and various platforms, sites that are relevant to legal education.
A good solution to this would firstly fall under the above point on updating syllabus. There has to be a uniform plan to teach technology Law in all Universities. More books too need to be written in that regard to aid understanding. Tech questions too should be asked and the minds of students prepared on advancing technology. By this mean, questions like – what laws should govern robotics, what ways can our courts adapt more to technology to make the dispensation of justice and handling cases faster? Thankfully, the Nigerian Law School has for long adopted the use of PowerPoint presentations and e-learning support. This is laudable and should be encouraged in Universities.
Some law reports are being digitalized and enabling easier access. Other law reports are encouraged to do same to enable more access and to boost competent legal education.
CLINICAL LEGAL EDUCATION: Till date, there is no uniformed adoption of the clinical legal education course. This is a huge problem to legal education. In some universities, the law clinic exists and the course is taught for one or two academic sessions, whereas in some schools, they are not taught at all.
As a solution, it is recommended that clinical legal education should be taught as a course and a compulsory one at that. Activities like street lawyering, prison outreaches, sensitization campaigns, client counselling, legal drafting, and ADR exhibition practices, etc should be carried out. This will go a long way in building and raising competent lawyers that will contribute to the legal profession and national development.
Law clinics should also be built with enough blocks and spaces to accommodate other students in the University or other outsiders who may want to come and obtain legal knowledge from Law students.
POOR / INADEQUATE LEARNING FACILITIES: Most Faculties of Law in Nigeria still suffer from the discomfort of incapacitated lecture rooms, limited library collection, and poor advocacy / litigation facilities like a moot court complex. This is a problem to legal education because it affects the concentration and focus of students during learning periods.
It is recommended that Faculties should develop these structures. Some Deans / Faculty authorities who mishandle funds designated for this purpose should be disciplined and adequately monitored. The welfare of the students and their development should be priority. I also personally recommend that there should be a National institution / body / committee where students across various Universities can report poorly performing Deans / Faculty authorities for proper sanction and discipline.
I haven’t been to the Law school yet, but from the experience of seniors and a little research, it is clear that all the six Law Schools in Nigeria do not have equal facilities for learning; as some are more preferred to the others.
Again, apart from the government, there are well to do individuals, private lawyers, judges who seek to influence development. The opportunity should be made open to them to build or develop any facility of their choice, and to be named after them. Some of them also have books they are willing to donate to school libraries if approached.
LACK OF ADEQUATE MENTORSHIP: One can say that what we have as lecturers / law teachers may not always serve as mentors. In Nigeria, most Faculties do not directly emphasize mentorship, and the legal education process does not allow for lecturers to adequately mentor students. This is a problem because students are learning law daily without actually knowing what to do after learning the law. A student can study up till the Nigerian Law School without having a mentor or guide who is aiding him/her advance in the legal profession.
As a solution, I personally recommend that Faculties of Law should build a strong Alumni structure that will allow previously graduated sets to give back to their schools by way of Mentorship. This can be achieved by inviting them at intervals to have a chat with the students, or by writing to them to allow students intern with them.
There should also be trainings on leadership and national development, which is one of the objectives of legal education. Students should be mentored to start stepping into offices, or advancing positive governance in the executive arm of government, effective judicial decisions and practice, as well as efficient representation in the legislative arm of government.
PROBLEM OF NON PASSIONATE STUDENTS: A personal survey I conducted and my experience revealed to me that a lot of Law students are not passionate about studying Law. They do not even want to develop Nigerian Law. Some just want to bear the title “Barrister”. This in turn affects their attitude towards lectures, research, law reform and eventually, performance in school. This is probably because right from home, they just wanted to be the lawyer in the family, or they just wanted to study Law for the prestige attached to it. This is really a problem, because when such students emerge as lawyers, they cannot defend the profession or make notable contributions in any of the many opportunities available in Law. I also consider it a problem to legal education because, one cannot be taught except they want to learn.
One solution to this has been mentioned in the point above which is – mentorship. Other solutions will include a more suitable approach by law lecturers to their teaching. Also, some start building the passion while in their final or semi final University level. To tackle this late awareness, asides normal lectures and course outlines, lecturers should encourage students and share helpful information on general issues of life alongside the law practice. Some exposed lecturers are already doing this across various Universities and it is encouraging the students and building their passions for law. Some chambers are named after some Lawyers and senior advocates, they should also come closer to the students and encourage them adequately, or allow access to their library, junior counsels, etc for more guide.
There is also a need to visit our secondary schools, where we have the prospective Law students and start on time to orientate some Law aspirants who have the wrong notion about studying Law. At this stage also, or during orientation for new students, the right passion can be created by showing them the ills of the legal profession / society, and the need for Law students to be committed to the course of changing, or improving the narrative.
8. LACK OF ADEQUATE ORIENTATION ON/ FACILITIES FOR LEGAL
RESEARCH: It is true that several times lecturers give assignments to students that demand research, but actually students are not well informed on building the habit of research as a lifestyle, and not for submitting assignments. Due assistance is not also given. For instance, a free subscription to Law Pavilion, a well equipped library with recent and various Law reports, journals, etc.
To solve this problem is a matter of commitment. If the Law Faculties, Deans, lecturers are committed to the development of the students, they will think in this direction and act accordingly. By this I mean, building of adequate facilities, and provision of research aids.
Students should also be guided on how to write Law articles. If possible, every Faculty should make it mandatory to have Faculty (Students’) Magazine that will feature only articles written by students. This way, some people will value and promote legal research.
9. THE MOVIE INDUSTRY: I’d like to identify a problem that emanates from home. Legal education does not only commence in tertiary institutions, but from home and lower classes. Certain Nigerian movies that intend to (apart from entertain) drop a lesson for the society or sensitize people on a legal position, they do it wrongly. They do not pass the accurate information and law practice. People also tend to misunderstand the point.
I must recommend that movie directors should invite legal practitioners to guide them properly, if they must feature a law or court scene. Despite the fact that it is for entertainment, it is also a way of educating the society on whatever is portrayed, because a great number of younger lawyers access these movies.
Again, as remote as it seems, it is important that educating law movies should be acted and produced for the consumption of law students to further educate them. I saw the need of this idea from the symposiums of Prof. Mojisola on Jurisprudence. It helps to simplify understanding of the area of Law in question.
CONCLUSION
This article has outlined a few points worthy of note as problems associated with Nigerian legal education. It has also attempted solutions to the problems identified, and hopeful that this will go a long way in contributing to positive changes in Nigerian legal education.
It is important to bear in mind that every lawyer is a product of the legal education (including personal efforts) which is available to him in his legal journey. At every stage where necessary positive changes can be made to promote legal education, it is highly encouraged.

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