RETHINKING ESSENTIAL TOOLKITS OF LEGAL EDUCATION IN NIGERIA
BEING A LECTURE DELIVERED
DR. TAHIR MAMMAN – DIRECTOR GENERAL OF THE NIGERIAN LAW SCHOOL
ON THE OCCASION OF THE 3RD FOUNDER’S WEEK CELEBRATION OF AFE BABALOLA UNIVERSITY (ABUAD) ON MONDAY, 20TH FEBRUARY, 2012
AFE BABALOLA UNIVERSITY – ADO-EKITI
RETHINKING ESSENTIAL TOOLKITS OF LEGAL EDUCATION IN NIGERIA
In November, 2008, the Chief Justice of Nigeria – Hon. Justice IdrisLegboKutigi (Rtd.), JSC, GCONB in a speech while inaugurating the Conference of Deans of Law observed thus: “This is one of the few occasions that have brought together all the stakeholders in the profession, that is, the Bench, the Bar and the academic community for a common purpose, which is the future of legal education in Nigeria. I understand that this is going to be a permanent platform to push reform in the legal education at the university level”. He went on to lament the difficulties the National Judicial Council have been having in identifying persons with the requisite qualification for appointment to the Sharia and other superior courts as Khadis because the faculties of law offering Sharia and LL.B do not ensure that graduates have a working knowledge of Arabic language, a necessary tool to read the original texts on Sharia Law.
Implicit in the former Chief Justice’s lamentations are three issues. One is the seemingly static nature of the legal education system. Second, is the disconnection between legal education as currently being provided and the requirements and everyday laws governing the society. The fractionalized nature of the legal education system and indeed the profession where there is absence of meaningful meeting point or some form of collaboration among the various strands of the profession.
Generally, legal education provides an integrating platform for the consideration of the above issues and general concerns affecting the Law and its practice.
However, in Nigeria, unlike most jurisdictions elsewhere, legal education as a subject of study has surprisingly not attracted critical debate beyond periodic general lamentations on collapsed or collapsing standards of education usually at general conferences.
Similarly, while huge literature and academic resources have emerged on specific aspects of Law, both substantive and procedural, not much is seen around on the area of legal education.
Nothing more should matter than sustained critical debate on legal education in Nigeria. As Peter Birks rightly observed, Law now “lives in a new world” confronted by numerous vistas and challenges, a lot of it being external to the narrow confines of the academic. These challenges are further fuelled by stakeholder interests and wish lists such as regulatory agencies, professional bodies, resources available to universities and other trainers, rising students expectations of the education system and the profession, clients and societal expectations, contextualization, complexity of transactions and globalization, etc . These pressures have been a rich arena for critical debate and discussion, especially in the UK and the USA, with regards to the purpose and methodology of legal education and generally resources required to support a suitable legal education system.
In Nigeria, the Council of Legal Education and National Universities Commission have the primary mandate to provide and ensure a legal education system which meets the aspirations of the country. In line with this mandate and to inform policy, the two institutions set out three years ago to generate primary data on the resources available in each faculty of Law in Nigeria.
This presentation will use this occasion to present some of the findings of the survey carried out. I will also use the occasion to briefly discuss some of the resources that are needed for providers to ensure a healthy legal education system and indeed enhance the quality of the legal profession in Nigeria.
Part Report on Census of Law Faculties in Nigeria
In 2008, the Council of Legal Education in collaboration with the National Universities Commission conducted a census of Law faculties in Nigeria irrespective of whether it has an approved or accredited status with the following objectives:
a. Ascertain the actual number of students by level in each university.
b. Establish the actual number of academic staff by cadre.
c. The level of compliance with existing quota allocated by the Council of Legal Education to the faculties in ratio to its carrying capacity.
d. The sufficiency or otherwise of existing physical/academic facilities in relation to the number of students enrolled.
The result presented below are limited to the first two terms of reference.
|FEDERAL UNIVERSITIES||CLE’S QUOTA||100 LEVEL||200 LEVEL||300 LEVEL||400 LEVEL||500 LEVEL||TOTAL|
|UNI OF IBADAN||150||0||120||124||108||107||459|
|UNI OF LAGOS||370||133||228||222||214||190||987|
|UNI OF NIG NSUKA||180||205||0||216||365||719||1505|
|AHM. BELLO UNI||280||211||281||420||296||250||1458|
|OBAFEMI AWOLOWO UNI||250||256||33||272||262||269||1092|
|UNI OF BENIN||180||124||172||216||335||330||1177|
|UNI OF JOS||170||278||286||319||284||237||1404|
|UNI OF CALABAR||150||103||159||135||116||136||649|
|BAYERO UNI KANO||200||142||198||179||186||91||796|
|UNI OF MAIDUGURI||180||0||169||294||285||705||1453|
|USMAN DAN. UNI||80||66||81||76||72||86||381|
|UNI OF ILORIN||120||236||250||191||102||178||957|
|UNI OF UYO||120||91||78||130||79||124||502|
|NNAMDI AZI. UNI||180||185||111||141||141||173||751|
|UNI OF ABUJA||100||210||227||242||351||154||1184|
|NATIONAL OPEN UNI.||NOT APPROVED BY NUC/CLE||249||419||0||0||0||668|
|STATE UNIVERSITIES||CLE’S QUOTA||100 LEVEL||200 LEVEL||300 LEVEL||400 LEVEL||500 LEVEL||TOTAL|
|ADEKUNLE AJASIN UNI||50||76||69||74||77||82||378|
|EBONYI STATE UNI||100||151||126||101||191||117||686|
|NIGER DEL. UNI||100||0||0||127||127||282||536|
|UNI OF ADO-EKITI||60||85||97||95||90||88||455|
|ABIA STATE UNI||130||123||130||130||122||121||626|
|DELTA STATE UNI||100||65||123||122||128||156||594|
|ENUGU STA UNI SCIEBCE & TECH||100||100||109||83||50||136||478|
|IMO STATE UNI||100||51||221||137||153||105||667|
|KOGI STATE UNI||60||100||125||66||59||89||439|
|LAGOS STATE UNI||200||226||188||130||259||211||1014|
|RIVERS STATE UNI. SCIENCE & TECH||250||186||340||377||373||589||1865|
|NASARAWA STA UNI||40||58||103||85||62||57||365|
|OLABISI ONABANJO UNI||150||0||81||385||667||396||1529|
|BENUE STATE UNI||100||116||122||84||88||88||498|
|PRIVATE UNIVERSITIES||CLE’S QUOTA||100 LEVEL||200 LEVEL||300 LEVEL||400 LEVEL||500 LEVEL||TOTAL|
|LEAD CITY UNI.||NOT APPROVED BY NUC/CLE||95||81||123||79||0||378|
|BEN. IDAHOSA UNI||40||57||76||82||76||81||372|
The total number of students in all Law faculties in Nigeria as at 2008 stood at 28,823.
Table 2 below provides the number of academic staff in all universities. In counting part-time academic staff, the National Universities Commission formula is adopted which counts two part-time staff as equivalent to one full time staff.
TABLE 2: ACADEMIC STAFF IN ALL UNIVERSITIES
|FEDERAL UNIVERSITIES||FULLTIMETOTAL||PART TIMETOTAL||GRAND TOTAL|
|UNI OF IBADAN||25||0||25|
|UNI OF LAGOS||45||2||46|
|UNI OF NIG NSUKA||37||2||38|
|AHM. BELLO UNI||45||15||52.5|
|OBAFEMI AWOLOWO UNI||36||4||38|
|UNI OF BENIN||36||0||36|
|UNI OF JOS||29||0||29|
|UNI OF CALABAR||22||1||22.5|
|BAYERO UNI KANO||16||1||16.5|
|UNI OF MAIDUGURI||34||0||34|
|USMAN DAN. UNI||11||4||13|
|UNI OF ILORIN||48||11||53.5|
|UNI OF UYO||23||8||27|
|NNAMDI AZI. UNI||31||0||31|
|UNI OF ABUJA||22||4||24|
|NATIONAL OPEN UNI.||NOT APPROVED BY NUC/CLE||33||20.5|
|STATE UNIVERSITIES||FULL TIME TOTAL||PART-TIMETOTAL||GRAND TOTAL|
|ADEKUNLE AJASIN UNI||14||1||14.5|
|EBONYI STATE UNI||39||0||39|
|NIGER DEL. UNI||26||1||26.5|
|UNI OF ADO-EKITI||17||17||25.5|
|ABIA STATE UNI||25||5||27.5|
|DELTA STATE UNI||31||1||31.5|
|ENUGU STA UNI SCIEBCE & TECH||22||9||26.5|
|IMO STATE UNI||18||14||25|
|KOGI STATE UNI||17||9||21.5|
|LAGOS STATE UNI||34||0||34|
|RIVERS STATE UNI. SCIENCE & TECH||39||1||39.5|
|NASARAWA STA UNI||11||3||12.5|
|OLABISI ONABANJO UNI||32||20||42|
|BENUE STATE UNI||23||5||25.5|
|PRIVATE UNIVERSITIES||FULL TIME TOTAL||PART-TIMETOTAL||GRAND TOTAL|
|LEAD CITY UNI.||NOT APPROVED BY NUC/CLE 13||3||14.5|
|BEN. IDAHOSA UNI||9||6||12|
GRAND TOTAL OF ACADEMIC STAFF IN ALL UNIVERSITIES = 1033
Table 3 below provide the academic staff spread by cadre. By NUC and government regulations, for proper development of a programme there should be academic staff mix as follows:
Professors/Associate Professors – 20%
Senior Lecturers – 35%
Lecturer I and others – 45%
|FEDERAL UNIVERSITIES||PROF/READER||%||SENIOR LECT.||%||LECTURER I &OTHERS||%||TOTAL|
|UNI OF IBADAN||3||12||5||20||17||68||25|
|UNI OF LAGOS||12||26||10||21.74||24||53||46|
|UNI OF NIG NSUKA||3.5||10||11.5||31||23||61||38|
|AHM. BELLO UNI||11||21||10||19||31.5||60||52.5|
|OBAFEMI AWOLOWO UNI||6.5||18||5.5||15||26||69||38|
|UNI OF BENIN||3||9||3||9||30||84||36|
|UNI OF JOS||7||25||7||25||15||52||29|
|UNI OF CALABAR||2.5||12||6||27||14||63||22.5|
|BAYERO UNI KANO||2||13||7.5||46||7||43||16.5|
|UNI OF MAIDUGURI||4||12||6||18||24||71||34|
|USMAN DAN. UNI||4||31||5||39||4||31||13|
|UNI OF ILORIN||4||8||9||17||40.5||76||53.5|
|UNI OF UYO||2||8||5||19||20||74||27|
|NNAMDI AZI. UNI||2||7||8||26||21||68||31|
|UNI OF ABUJA||1.5||7||7.5||32||15||63||24|
|NATIONAL OPEN UNI.||1.5||8||4.5||22||14.5||77||20.5|
|STATE UNIVERSITIES||PROF/ READER||%||SENIOR LECTURER||%||ECTURER I & OTHERS||%||TOTAL|
|ADEKUNLE AJASIN UNI||2||14||2.5||18||10||69||14.5|
|EBONYI STATE UNI||3||8||8||21||28||72||39|
|NIGER DEL. UNI||3||12||3.5||14||20||76||26.5|
|UNI OF ADO-EKITI||1.5||6||6||24||18||71||25.5|
|ABIA STATE UNI||4.5||17||6||22||17||62||27.5|
|DELTA STATE UNI||1.5||5||5||16||25||80||31.5|
|ENUGU STA UNI SCIEBCE & TECH||2||8||4||15||20.5||78||26.5|
|IMO STATE UNI||7.5||30||5||20||12.5||50||25|
|KOGI STATE UNI||3.5||17||9||42||9||42||21.5|
|LAGOS STATE UNI||5||15||5||15||24||71||34|
|RIVERS STATE UNI. SCIENCE & TECH||4.5||12||10||26||25||64||39.5|
|NASARAWA STA UNI||2||16||0||0||10.5||84||12.5|
|OLABISI ONABANJO UNI||7||17||8.5||21||26.5||63||42|
|BENUE STATE UNI||2.5||10||5||20||18||71||25.5|
|PRIVATE UNIVERSITIES||PROF/ READER||%||SENIOR LECTURER||%||LECTURER I & OTHERS||%||TOTAL|
|LEAD CITY UNI.||5.5||38||3||21||6||42||14.5|
The figures indicate that at the professorial cadre, University of Lagos, Ahmadu Bello University, University of Jos and Usman Danfodio met the ratio, while only Imo State University among the state universities complied, while all the private universities met the ratio but with more of retired contract.
At the level of the senior lecturer cadre, only Bayero University satisfied the guidelines while Kogi met the requirements among the state universities and none among the private universities satisfied it.
Overall, no university met the requirements completely on mix of academic staff. In particular, the grim picture at the cadre of Professors and Readers presents a major challenge to the ability of faculties to undertake innovative researches as they will still be carrying a significant teaching load even at the undergraduate level. This is moreso given the requirement of the Council of Legal Education that only Senior Lecturer grades and above qualify to teach core courses.
Availability of sufficient academic staff both in quality and number is a key challenge in all the tertiary institutions which will affect their ability to provide for the core needs in terms of research and innovation, curricula re-engineering teaching that allows for contact with students, development of the lower rung of staff and in many cases community service. To ensure minimum standards in this regard, the government put in place a policy on lecturer-students ratio which is 1 to 30 for the discipline of Law.
Table 4 below as with the rest of statistics present a mixed picture, although slightly in a more positive direction. Out of the 16 federal universities, about 9 met the policy which are: university of Ibadan, University of Lagos, Ahmadu Bello University, ObafemiAwolowo University, University of Calabar, UsmanDanfodio University, University of Ilorin, University of Uyo and NnamdiAzikiwe.
From the ranks of state universities, only Rivers State University of Science and Technology, as well as OlabisiOnabanjo University have lecturer-students ratio far outside official prescription alongside Madonna amongst the private universities which has the worst ratio percentage of 1 to 63.
TABLE 4:LECTURER – STUDENT RATIO
|FEDERAL UNIVERSITIES||STUDENTS TOTAL||NUMBER OF ACADEMIC STAFF||% DEFFICIENCY OF IDEAL RATIO OF 30:1|
|UNI OF IBADAN||459||25||38%|
|UNI OF LAGOS||987||46||28%|
|UNI OF NIG NSUKA||1505||38||134%|
|AHM. BELLO UNI||1458||52.5||6%|
|OBAFEMI AWOLOWO UNI||1092||38||3%|
|UNI OF BENIN||1177||36||110%|
|UNI OF JOS||1404||29||160%|
|UNI OF CALABAR||649||22.5||3%|
|BAYERO UNI KANO||796||16.5||160%|
|UNI OF MAIDUGURI||1453||34||144%|
|USMAN DAN. UNI||381||13||3%|
|UNI OF ILORIN||957||53.5||38%|
|UNI OF UYO||502||27||36%|
|NNAMDI AZI. UNI||751||31||20%|
|UNI OF ABUJA||1184||24||164%|
|NATIONAL OPEN UNI.||668||20.5||110%|
|STATE UNIVERSITIES||STUDENTS TOTAL||NUMBER OF ACADEMIC STAFF||% DEFFICIENCY OF IDEAL RATIO OF 30:1|
|ADEKUNLE AJASIN UNI||378||14.5||13%|
|EBONYI STATE UNI||686||39||38%|
|NIGER DEL. UNI||536||26.5||33%|
|UNI OF ADO-EKITI||455||25.5||38%|
|ABIA STATE UNI||626||27.5||23%|
|DELTA STATE UNI||594||31.5||36%|
|ENUGU STA UNI SCIEBCE & TECH||478||26.5||38%|
|IMO STATE UNI||667||25||10%|
|KOGI STATE UNI||439||21.5||33%|
|LAGOS STATE UNI||1014||34||NIL|
|RIVERS STATE UNI. SCIENCE & TECH||1865||39.5||157%|
|NASARAWA STA UNI||365||12.5||3%|
|OLABISI ONABANJO UNI||1529||42||120%|
|BENUE STATE UNI||498||25.5||33%|
|PRIVATE UNIVERSITIES||STUDENTS TOTAL||NUMBER OF ACADEMIC STAFF||% DEFFICIENCY OF IDEAL RATIO OF 30:1|
|LEAD CITY UNI.||378||14.5||13%|
The overall picture which emerges from the preceding statistics is, faculties which are heavy at the bottom, fewer and grim at the top and struggling in the middle ranks of academic staff. The states and private universities draw and rely more on part-time staff with the attendant uncertainties.
The further development and introduction of new programmes require as a pre-condition availability of sufficient staff in number and expertise.
Nigeria has the odd situation where academic programmes are largely imposed from outside by the National Universities Commission – whereas, the conceptualization and development of academic programmes and curriculum is indeed a matter for faculty members in the department.
A further difficulty associated with this low level of faculty will be the inability of staff to move academic activities away from the typical traditional lectures and teaching method to transaction learning.
Transaction or experiential learning process is a learning tool which involves students active participation that ultimately gives them first hand experience and nurtures them in professional capabilities such as personal responsibility, team work, ethics, client care and risk management. In essence, legal theory is integrated with practice to harmonise Law School activities with practitioners skills, social needs and values.
In the light of the problematic standing of the faculties, what could be the next steps?
Official approach to problems of capacity and absence of innovation in the universities has been to impose regulations. Government through the NUC developed and imposed Benchmark Minimum Academic Standards (BMAS) in the early 1980’s when universities appeared lethargic to innovations and also to ensure minimum standards particularly since the opening up of University education to State and Private Sectors. It introduced a variety of courses which range from compulsory to optional with its contents prescribed. Introduced with these were multidisciplinary approaches to legal studies where courses in the social sciences were to be taken alongside the typical Law Courses by students to ensure that Law is studied within the context of its society.
Ordinarily, curriculum development in a University is interest and departmentally driven by faculty members. The Council of Legal Education had also imposed its own list of core courses which faculties in the University must offer for them to qualify for Council’s recognition and allow its students to participate in the vocational training in the Nigerian Law School. Most universities simply adopted these regime of courses as their maximum, even though it is designed to be minimum benchmarks. With this tendency, courses became frozen, static and somehow removed from realities i.e. disconnected from societal needs.
The problems are further compounded by the continued use of the conventional lecture and teaching methodology which do not require students active participation. Students are still seen as empty vessels which need to be fed with knowledge.
It will appear therefore that to address the gap and innovation concerns in the classroom and the disconnection between the classroom and Legal practice, there is the irresistible need for collaboration among the Bar, the Bench and the teachers.
For instance, the Glasgow Graduate School of Law, which developed a simulation learning environment for a students population of 283 (as at 2007) had on the programme two full-time, two part-time, three visiting professors, administrator and about 150 practitioner-tutors. This program is rated highly by students and the profession alike. The experience in the Nigerian Law School, although, still at a modest level reinforces the desirability of collaboration among the key stakeholders in legal education. In addition to meeting resources gap, students tend to feel more confident when practitioners and Judges are involved in programmes as they hear it from the ‘horses mouth’ as it were. This category of staff who serves as adjuncts or tutors will usually bring in their practice background and help to develop programme that are experiential in nature. But such category of staff should not be involved in routine administration as deans or heads of departments.
Although still at a modest stage there are indications of emerging enterprise among Nigerian Legal Practitioners in terms of self development towards specialization in various aspects of practice.
Using these combined resources, it may be possible in the not too distant future to open up new frontiers of existing courses as well as open up or raise the scale of research interest, innovation and teaching in many areas, such as construction Law, Planning Law, Health and Safety Law, Environmental, Sports Law, Professional ethics and responsibility and client care, various aspects of living Laws which govern the everyday aspect of Nigerians, but ignored in the classroom currently in favour of foreign and statutory Laws.
These and many more substantive areas of Law would then be available for participative teaching using either simulated or real life scenarios.
International Collaborations and Networking
Through externship, students and faculty exchanges have become widespread among USA, European and Asian Countries . This practice fosters understanding of foreign legal systems, as well as acceptance of the products of such systems and confidence in benchmarked standards. Usually such exchanges take place after some form of assessment of the legal education standards in the country receiving students. That is, exchanges take place on the understanding of shared common denominators in standards.
This shared reciprocity in quality and values in education and training clears the way for collaborations and partnerships across geographical boundaries in legal practice.
Part of the reasons why the earlier faculties of law – University of Nigeria, University of Lagos, Ahmadu Bello University and ObafemiAwolowo University, Ife, gained significant international respect and recognition was the presence at that time of foreign nationals, and even students in their faculty which translated to the sound quality of their programme. The same cannot be said of present day faculties of Law in Nigeria which are extremely localized in terms of staff and students recruitment. This is indeed a critical aspect for the provision and maintenance of best practices in legal education through which confidence of foreign and domestic legal practitioners, the business community and generally consumers of legal services may be secured.
There are serious obstacles to Nigeria’s staff and students’ participation in these global schemes on account of too frequent calendar disruptions due to strikes, over-population of students in classes, questionable commitment to teaching and research by academic staff .
Formerly, foreign Scholars were sponsored especially under Fulbright Scholarship, and other foreign fellowship schemes to participate in research and teaching in Nigeria and Nigerian Scholars to do same abroad. It would appear that such fellowships and exchanges are far and between and tenable essentially for outbound Nigerian scholars, while students exchanges are at zero level.
Part of the negative fall-out is the total absence of outsourcing of legal services from abroad to Nigeria whereas much outsourcing is being done from USA and Europe to Asia and the Middle East.
Information Technology in Legal Education
Developments and advances in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) raise important questions on its impact on education and teaching and how it may be harnessed by law teachers. Elsewhere, the development and deployment of advanced computer assisted learning systems has changed dramatically the way students learn, created vast opportunities and ease for information storage, retrieval and dissemination and collaborative activities. Briefly, some of the ICT platforms and possible uses are:
– E-mail communication – Through it, resources and questions may be posted to students and obviate the necessity for them to physically go for such resources and their responses returned in like manner. The criticism is however made that, it removes the values derived from social contact among students and staff, as well as absence of face-to-face discussions, etc.
– Electronic Discussion Forums – The forum enables participants pose questions and articulate views and as such are very much suitable for large class academic activity and even beyond the teachers and students.
– Legal Data Bases – This is in use in many Law Schools across the world to access legal resources, most common of which are LEXIS and WESTLAW. Data bases house a huge amount of data and knowledge which are available for research for teaching and practice. Since in large measure, legal research will be conducted by lawyers in practice, it is only appropriate that students gain the requisite experience and skills during their education in the university and vocational training in the Law School. Moreover, cybercrimes can only be understood and learnt through the IT, being the mechanism through which it is committed, as well as electronically generated evidence.
– Video Conferencing – Holds a lot of promise in teaching and research, especially for the injection of international aid comparative flavour in the curricula as it will enable guest speakers from long distances share resources. It could as it were create a global classroom for students from several institutions to participate in the same course, through bilateral and multilateral arrangements.
Perhaps this facility holds even more promise for students and faculty members in developing countries to share resources with their colleagues in better endowed regions without having to travel and facilitate better understanding of the various legal models and standards which exist elsewhere.
Of course, the hiccup in the deployment of ICT for learning and teaching is the financial and technical resources needed to deploy and maintain them. Apart from the issues of commitment, financial handicaps may be the reason why only a few university law faculties and the Nigerian Law School at the moment have limited IT infrastructure, while usage is still at the level of only provision of one or two data bases typically, Lexis or Westlaw or Hine on-Line.
But as focus is made on acquisition of IT, it is important that it is not used unthinkingly so that the facilities do not detract from students and learning. Technology is infact an aid to the learning process. A significant impact of the development of IT for learning is its facilitation of active, students centered learning and easy nurturing of research and analytical capability.
Legal Education and Ethics
One of the pillars on which law and the legal profession historically rested is ethics and morality especially the common law having been receptive to ecclesiastical law and some influences of Islamic law practices. With the development of professionalism, and law and lawyers as accoutrements of access to justice, the public implicitly came to depend on lawyers as a social institution to ensure the integrity of rule of law and access to justice. Upholding of this public trust is through ethics and integrity, partly encapsulated in codes to regulate the profession. The codes represent a statement of the professions’ expectations of and commitment to good conduct, and lofty aspirations, allows for ease of administration or amenable to periodic modifications as the need arises. As currently taught in the universities and before the new curriculum in the Nigerian Law School, ethics and professional responsibility was conceived of and taught in terms of duties to the Court and clients as they exist in regulatory codes, statutes and case law.
Despite these codes and exhortations, there is significant drop in the public perception of a lawyer. These days, lawyers have the negative image of being seen as cheats, liars (some use lawyers as liars interchangeably) manipulators (turning black to white or white to black, etc); excessive legal jargon and give high priority to fiscal reward. This is further complicated at the university level by unwholesome practices by academics perceived lack of commitment to teaching, and assessment, and compromising relationships with students.
It is clear that the traditional conception of ethics have failed to deliver a satisfactory result or outcome to the individual practitioner, the profession and the general public.
The legal education system in Nigeria needs to adjust its focus from teaching of external codes only to one that also embraces “internal education of lawyer’s professional conduct,” essentially on basic common sense ethos of wrong or right.
The tool kits for this may be the law clinics, literature and storytelling in sensitizing lawyers to their responsibilities which are far beyond the prescriptions in the professional code of conduct.
The reason and purpose of examining students is dependent on the philosophy and aims for the study of law, and the way the programme is structured and organized.
If the purpose is to teach students to know the rules and learn their cases, then, the ends of examination will be essentially on testing students’ memory, which is quite different from the requirements needed in everyday practice of law.
Under this process students get away with the impression that the aim of academic teaching is to prepare them for a test rather than the tests being indicia for ascertaining whether the educational process has achieved its aims.
The aim of legal education must be towards a process of “transmitting knowledge and inculcating a method of thinking” by which “each student should in the course of his studies obtain two things: a general survey of his field, and a detailed map of a few selected areas, selected by him or for him.” A process of converting what Forbes called an “empty mind” into an “open mind”.
An appropriate examination and assessment regime would therefore involve continuous tests that would require and expose students to a good level of research, analysis and written presentation , something that engages them in “democratic imagination ”. At some point, in addition to participating in moot/mock activities and clinical programmes a voice or oral presentation could, apart from other uses sharpen the students’ advocacy skills in a broad way. It would foster a students centered learning and assessment regimes that allows for feedback to students on their progress through a combination of the regimes of formative and summative assessments.
In conclusion, in my view, adherence to the foregoing resources among others could chart a healthy passage for Nigeria’s legal education system and provide the country with Lawyers who on qualification may hit the ground and start walking.