An average student of a Law Faculty in Nigeria is inundated with the theory of Law , with out any practical knowledge in his five years in the Law Faculty .The Externship Programme of the Nigerian Law School is too short and the Law Student is more concerned about reading for his examinations and he therefore does not pay close attention to it.
It will be apposite for Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) ,a major partner in the legal education millieu , to synergize with the law faculties in Nigeria to run a mentorship /internship programme that will draw the Law Students nearer and make them understand the importance of the Association in Legal Practice.
The following is the suggested template for the Proposed the NBA Law Students’ Internship Programme (NLSIP) :
The NBA Law Students’ Internship Programme (NLSIP) , will be earmarked to be a Platform for Law Students in all the Law Faculties in Nigeria from 100 Level to 500 Level to get some Mentorship cum Internship ,to prepare them for the rigours of legal practice .
This will be driven during the School Holidays Period in Batches ,where Law Students will be posted to Chambers in the Private Bar ,Official Bar and Legal Departments of Government establishments /Private Companies , to understudy those ahead of them so much so, that they will seamlessly navigate into legal practice. They will encounter live issues in Professional Ethics while in Mentorship /Internship , before even proceeding to the Nigerian Law School.
The NBA in this issue will be just a facilitator and this Programme will be open to all Law Students, while building them with the requisite skills for Legal Practice like computer knowledge skills , Litigation Skills , good communication skills , good writing Skill, legal drafting skills and good inter personal relationship skills .
The Programme will be expected to be executed in different streams and attendees may get a certificate of commendation from the NBA as Successful Interns and Mentees ,which will be dependent on the Reports of the Principals/Bosses of the subject Interns/ Mentees.
The NBA could even do exchange Programmes with other Bar Associations around the World and could even take a guided tour to other Jurisdictions , to under study the module in those jurisdictions.
This Programme will help in preparing the Law Students for the rigours of legal practice and give them a clear understanding of what legal Practice is all about ,even before they proceed to the Nigerian Law School.It will be a bridge between the gown and the town as it concerns legal practice and it will give the young students the opportunity to navigate the different strata of legal practice, making their studies to come alive as they encounter live issues as opposed to the theoretical work that they currently being confined to .
Medical Doctors and Nurses have a similar programme ,which has proven to be effective in the practical training of the aforementioned professionals .We must re-examine our template for Legal Education ,which has not had any major changes for over 100 Years .It is time for a radical review of same , to meet up with the fast changing environment we churn out these would be young Lawyers to .
Legal Practice is now wider than criminal law , evidence, constitutional law ,civil litigation , customary law , company law etc.There are new frontiers of Law that our students know nothing about .Areas like Data Protection Law , Intellectual Property Law ,Space Law ,Sports and Entertainment Law , Medical Negligence Related Matters , Technology Law , Immigration Law,Cabotage Law ,Mergers and Acquisitions, Telecommunication Law , Multilateral Organizations , et al , are all thriving areas of Law that our students do not know or see ,but can be exposed to during the internship programme ,depending on the Chambers or offices they are posted to. The Students will also.use the opportunity to attend Court to give them a practical experience of the Court System.It would also be an opportunity for the law students to have a strong network that will come in handy after their call to bar .I reckon that currently Lawyers are looking for chambers to work in , at the same time , chambers are looking for Lawyers. This programme will be a bridge builder between the chambers and the young Lawyers .
The Internship/Mentorship programme will make a Nigerian Law Student a Global Player in the Legal Space, if it was well implemented, with the right mandate given to the chambers/Offices and with a fool proof system to avoid any kind of harassment of the students, to ensure that the core mandate of the Programme is achieved .
About the Author:
Douglas Ogbankwa Esq.,a Member of the NBA National Editorial Board is the Co-ordinator of the African Bar Association Law Students’ Internship Programme (AfBA-LSIP).