Hi guys! I wanted to give write this post for close to a month but I had been busy. This is a part of what I shared on a Law School webinar recently. I’m glad to finally have it up on the blog. Share with your law school contacts and have an amazing day.
I finished from the Nigerian Law School this year with a first class. I wasn’t surprised when I saw my result but I was surprised at one thing – only five of us made a first class. The year preceding mine at the law school saw over a hundred students bagging a first class and I totally believed it would be the same in my set. Why is it that certain other people didn’t make a first class? I don’t know. I can’t speak for others, but I do speak for myself. I want you to have a similar attitude towards life. Speak for yourself. I did the same thing while in secondary school, I affirmed that if only one person would be granted admission to study Law in the entire nation, it would be me. I made this statement in the course of a discussion some of my classmates were having on change of course from law to other disciplines. Of all that were engaged in that conversation and more, I was the only one to get an admission to study law that year. I say this because law school tales are often to the negative. Be resolute in your mind what it is that you want and stand by it. It is not your business why other people ‘fail’. It is your business that you will succeed. It is not your business that people say there is a casting down, it is your business that your story will be one of a lifting up. Now that I hope we’ve settled the issue of mindset, we will move on to specific tips I think will be of great relevance to you.
1. Why do you want the class of degree you want?
When I got into the University, I didn’t aim for a first class. For my entire period in the University, I didn’t aim for it. I didn’t value it. Entering the Nigerian law school, I valued having a first class and I aimed for it. I desired to give expression to my faith by having a first class. As a Christian, I had understood that God’s plan for me is to be high above every nation he has made for his praise and glory. That was my goal. I also wanted to do it for myself; reveal that it’s not out of my reach. You have to have a value system for the class of degree you want. When you value that class of degree, you should have a reason for wanting that valued degree. Do you value a distinction? Why do you value a distinction?
For those in law school currently, don’t think it’s too late to make up your mind. I’m aware you haven’t had externship yet so time isn’t out.
2. Work on your subconscious mind: You can beat your subconscious mind. What you are mostly aware of is your conscious mind. Your subconscious however is a deeper level that holds its own beliefs. Your subconscious thoughts occasionally project into you conscious and so you’re able to detect it.
It’s best if you do some reading into the conscious and subconscious mind.
It’s said that the ‘The mind cannot tell the difference between something that is repeatedly imagined or whether it was an actual experience‘. Pause to read that again. Imagine your excellence. Picture your red scroll (till all you see is red). Use your conscious mind to override your subconscious. Create a confession/affirmation that tells you the kind of excellence you’ll attain. When you do this, it wouldn’t matter the type of ‘strange’ question you face in the exam hall, even your subconscious mind will tell you it’s a walkover. A child’s play. Or when you’re doing your revision and you keep unravelling new aspects you haven’t covered previously in your reading, your subconscious mind will still say ‘no big deal, I’ll trash this course’. On the other hand, people who haven’t controlled their subconscious minds will panic.
Picture your success repeatedly. Affirm your confessions.
3. Read in the way that works best for you. Don’t be intimidated by the way others are reading. I wasn’t the BGS from my University. you don’t have to be the BGS or have made a first class in University for you to bag it in law school. Don’t think that if all the BGS from different schools read overnight, you must read overnight too. It may not be effective for you. If you’re a daytime reader, then, maximize that daytime. Don’t listen to anyone telling you ‘you read too much’. That’s because you know you’re probably asleep by 12mindnight while the other person will likely read during the night. Always read in the manner most effective for you. Use the library if it’s best for you (I advise library), use your room, seminar room or what suits you best. Create fresh notes if it works for you, don’t create notes if it doesn’t work for you. I rarely create notes. I’d rather read and understand over time than create notes with half of the entire time available. But if creating notes works for you, please do. Work with what is effective.
My caveat to this point is don’t be mediocre, claiming “This is what suits me best”. Be challenged by good things. You are not a tree; don’t be stuck in your (unhelpful) ways.
4. Engage the syllabus properly. Don’t just mark reading time. Ensure reading time is spent reading what the examiner expects you to know. Understand what you’re reading. Other than a particular textbook you may have, borrow textbooks written by other authors and get an understanding of each concept. The examiner can always twist the questions, understand the concepts deeply.
Like your lecturers advise, don’t use the blue spiral binded books sold at mammy market. Have a better reading culture than you’re used to.
Read with the lesson outcomes in mind. Please don’t ignore your law school handbook. The handbook contains lesson outcomes, use them to tailor your reading. follow the lesson objectives and be able to speak to each objective authoritatively.
5. Love your drafts. I know you’ve heard that you shouldn’t neglect your drafts but are you adhering to this? You have to become a master of drafts. Each court process, letter e.t.c in each course. Every course has drafts you must learn. Don’t assume that because you weren’t taught the draft in class the way you’re taught charges for example, that it means you don’t need it. You do, please. Each draft. Each, using the law school syllabus. Now there’s nothing like reading draft. Nothing like it. Each time you’re reading and you get to a point to draft, don’t skim over it and think you know it (or will practice it later). Practice it now. Draft it from memory.
6. Use past questions: This helps you to be familiar with how the examiners think. When I began to use pqs, I knew the answers yet I always answered in an Off Point manner. With time, I mastered the skill of answering law school questions. Get to the point please. Someone once told me that in the manner we law students answer questions in University with the IRAC principle, in law school the principle is : Conclusion, Rules, Application, Conclusion. CRAC. Lol, this is not a rule so don’t take it as such. Use or discard it. The real deal is that you go straight to the point. I think CRAC helps with getting to the point but I say this lightly, don’t quote me.
7. If helps to have study groups. It is not compulsory. I think it helps to discuss with other brilliant minds so you’ll know where you’re still lacking. Don’t make an habit of only discussing with people you’re smarter than. That way you won’t know where you have room for improvement.
And if you’re almost always smarter than everyone in the room, no problem. Truthfully.
8. Utilize your externship: Some people have taken this to mean look and pray for a law firm where you’ll not work so you’ll spend the time reading. No. I think working helps you. Moreover, the serious firms sometimes have an arrangement for occasional tutorials. Don’t underestimate what reading tips your immediate (five years and below) seniors in the firm give you. Stop lamenting on the circumstances around your externship, if any. Simply utilize it.
9. Get away from distractions. Law school is for less than a year. Don’t leave law school wondering if you could’ve done better. I wondered very briefly if I could’ve read for longer hours in the library.
Don’t live in a way that you’ll be unsure after everything. Leave no room for more to be done. Uninstall some of your social media applications if you need to. Tell close friends and family the peculiarity of law school. I know someone who gave his family time slots for phone calls. You may have to do this if distractions are always plenty. Don’t say you must see a movie everynight to ‘wash down‘ your reading (especially if your faith practices already take some part of your day) because you know someone who does so. For me, I prioritized my faith so I didn’t have time to gist away. Gist had mostly been replaced by fellowship with God. If you have faith practices that take time, don’t add plenty gist and movie time. Time is precious.
10. Enjoy your one year. You will never have cause to return to Law school in Nigeria again (Amen). So enjoy it. Don’t listen to people that say its a traumatic moment. No. Long before result came out, I already kept telling people how law school was one of the best moments of my life. Because it genuinely was. I enjoyed my Clasfon family and the entire learning process. Stop complaining. Start enjoying.
Bonus point for those currently in Law school: I’ve heard that the Uploaded videos are too heavy so most people don’t watch them. I’ll say if you find an opportunity to get WiFI, download about every video. Hearing your law school lecturer helps. I wish you the best.
I hope this has helped. Let me know your comments belows.