You can Only get Pupillage in a Law Firm… – Ex-NERC DG reveals Why FG should scrap Law School
The Federal Government should scrap the Nigerian Law School because current reality has shown that the institution has outlived its usefulness, a lawyer and former Director-General of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, Dr. Sam Amadi, advised on Friday.
He also suggested ways in which the legal profession should be saved from moral disaster.
According to him, the Nigerian Law School was established to provide practical knowledge for young lawyers but no longer serving its purpose.
Amadi, who is also the Director, Abuja School of Social and Political Thoughts, made the recommendation at the 2023 endowment launch for the ‘IgbaBoyi’, an Igbo apprenticeship scheme, by Igbo lawyers under the umbrella of Otu Oka-Iwu Abuja.
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Present at the event were a former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Kanu Agabi (SAN); Senator Ben Obi, who represented Anambra Central in the National Assembly, senior lawyers of Igbo extraction, among others.
While describing the Nigerian legal system as one of the most corrupt in the world, Amadi maintained that the law school is a waste of time and resources, adding that it should be scrapped.
He said, “So, I think that we need to rethink the whole framework of Nigeria. In my view, the law school is failing. It is no longer serving its purpose. The law school is designed to provide technical practical education. So the question I ask is: what are they providing? My view is, that purpose is best served at law firms.
“Many lawyers who go to law school do not practice. Some of them go into journalism, and broadcasting, or they go and teach in the University. So I would like us to strengthen the university education for lawyers in order for them to have a broad analytical competency.
“In the United States, when you finish your legal education in the university, you do a quick exam for call as lawyer. Here, we can license our universities to take three to six months of special rush courses for our law students to qualify to practice. After that, they go to the chambers where they learn real practice. The only way one can get pupillage is in a law firm.
“What is the law school providing for our young graduates? The law school is not rigorous, either academic or practical. So my view is, we must focus on universities to give robust academic training. Those who want to practice law should go and do some crash courses in the universities to get qualified as lawyers. Then they go to law firms or corporate places to learn corporate law or legal practice.
“Law as practiced is not taught in the law school. Stop the law school and the waste of resources. Accredit universities to do three to six months, just like they do in America. After graduating as a lawyer, you go and take classes and pass the instructions and get called to the bar. Then all the learning will happen at the law firms where senior lawyers now have obligation to train those young lawyers to understand the practice.”
The human rights lawyer also described as a welcome development the idea of replicating the Igbo apprenticeship model where young lawyers would be able to gain valuable internship experience at reputation law firms.
He said the model, now studied at Harvard is a unique way of knowledge transfer and is needed to save the law profession from moral disaster.
Amadi said, “The idea is that lawyers will seek knowledge from the established ones and also, the established lawyers will also be generous enough to support our young people, not just knowledge but in paying them. So what the Igbo lawyers are trying to do is to provide funding to encourage young people so that with the help of the senior lawyers, the junior ones will acquire not just knowledge, but also virtue.
“Today, the law and judiciary are the most corrupt parts of Nigerian society because everybody wants to make money. So I want to say that if we can restore pupillage and make it real and provide incentives for young people to go and learn, then we can save the law profession from a moral disaster. This is a totally disastrous state. The law professional is shameful and undignified because of the behavior of lawyers and judges.
The President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Yakubu Maikyau (SAN), described the Igbo apprenticeship scheme as the best way to transfer skills, character and knowledge.
While declaring NBA’s support for the initiative, Maikyau assured that the scheme would be expanded to become a national mentorship policy of the Federal Government.
He, however, pleaded that the scheme should not be limited to only lawyers of Igbo extraction.
The NBA President said, “If you are the best of lawyers without character, there is no way that intellect is going to transfer or translate into value. So this is a mentorship model. Like I said, it is welcomed into our fold as lawyers, but please let us not limit it to the Igbos. We should extend it to others. We should take it to the north and west because this is something that is going to bring benefit to each and every one of us.”