What’s Stressing These New Lawyers About the Call to Bar Process?

December 8, 2022
Image Source: NAN

It’s law school graduation season again. Every year, thousands of new lawyers graduate from the Nigerian Law School to begin their careers, after at least six years of hard work and grit. You must’ve seen all the beautiful pictures of people in lawyer outfits accompanied by congratulatory messages. 

But do you know what they go through to register for the call to bar?

These lawyers tell us.

Toluwani* — Nothing prepared me for it

Nothing prepared me for how horrendous my Call to Bar registration was. The processes were way too many and unnecessary. We had to take a slip to some office to stamp, make photocopies, visit the supreme court twice, and so much more. Thinking about it now is even stressing me. These things could’ve been done online na. 

I couldn’t finish the entire process in one day because of the queues. Not queues, crowds. Everything was disorganised. At some point, I saw myself climbing a gate just so someone on the other side could attend to me and stamp my slip. There was broken glass on the floor at some point. After like two hours, I left the crowd to go and cry in a secluded place. I had a moment of reflection like, “Na me be this?” Was I really going through all this because I wanted to be called to bar? Well, yes. 

In the middle of my tears, my boyfriend called me, and I couldn’t even hold myself together. I was just crying to him on the phone. After sitting for another two hours, I decided to go back to the crowd and saw they’d attended to a few people who were standing around the the gate I climbed. It pained me because if I was still there, maybe they’d have attended to me. But I decided I couldn’t stress myself again — it was time to go home. 

But God did a miracle. As I was leaving, I saw a guy and asked if he’d got his stamp. He said yes, so I asked him if he could help me submit my slip for stamping. In my mind, I was going to collect it the next day. But ten minutes later, on my way home, he called me to collect my slip. How he did it, I don’t know. People who’d submitted their slip three to four hours earlier hadn’t collected theirs yet.

Chigoziem* — After all the wahala, you’d think there’d be a benchmark salary for practising lawyers

Let me start with the expenses. After you’ve managed to survive law school, which in itself is a miracle, the billing starts. First, we pay a ₦30k registration fee to the Nigerian Body of Benchers. Then there’s the ₦10k alumni fee, ₦5k practising fee, flight ticket money, photoshoot money and the cost of a wig and gown — ₦30k for the ones with terrible quality. Everyone also has to house themselves in Abuja for a couple of weeks. Think of the people who struggled to afford the ∼₦300k law school fees. Now, they have to spend at least ₦250k to be called to bar. How do they want to do it?

Kenny* — I want to advise anyone willing to listen: don’t go to law school in Nigeria

Bro, it was rough. I don’t even know what other word to use. I don’t understand how they don’t have a more effective way of passing people out of the Nigerian Law School after all these years. I saw people get injured, man. It was terrible. 

You know what crossed my mind as I went through this ordeal? “And some people will still enter Law School this year. This is what they’ll face when they’re done? God forbid.” See, if you can, don’t study law in Nigeria. And if you’re already studying law, don’t go to Nigerian Law School. From the school itself to the process of graduating, everything is 0/10. I don’t recommend. 

Tolu* — I don’t think it was rowdy. It was just stressful

The amount of travelling I’ve done within Abuja in the past couple of days, ehn? It’s plenty. Law school, where we did all our processing and stamping is in Bwari, on the outskirts of Abuja. You’d have to travel almost two hours to get there from central Abuja, spend the entire day there, and if you’re not done, come back the next day. Then after you finish, you take a slip to the Supreme Court and return to collect the final certificate.

In my experience, there were lines and many people attended to us, so it wasn’t rowdy like I heard others say, but I was stressed because of the many processes. And it was expensive — flying to Abuja on such short notice and paying many fees. 

Isa* — Can they do better with information?

First of all, there isn’t readily available information about what we should do and where. They released the Call to Bar registration schedule on November 22nd, and I was scheduled for November 28th. I had to be in Abuja in six days. Have you seen the flight prices? I pity people who had to do theirs on the 26th. 

Another thing that stressed me was we had to pay the Body of Benchers fee over the bank counter. Why couldn’t we just transfer to the account? When I got to Abuja, I heard I could’ve done it over POS anywhere. If you see the number of people who were disgusted to find out they’d wasted their time. 

I got to Law School on November 28th to submit documents we’d already submitted online, and they told me I was scheduled for 26th, so I’d missed my date. Ehn? I showed them the schedule that showed it was 28th, they showed me their own that said 26th. That’s how we started back-and-forth. I had to go to Student Council office; they were clueless. ICT said they were working on it. I went to Bwari from town everyday till December 2nd. Do you know how far Bwari is?

They sha finally said I could start processing because it was a problem from their end. The process itself? Very rowdy. The Nigerian in me had to come out. We pushed, struggled and did all sorts. I had to throw “fine girl” out the window. 

At various points, you’d see people sitting in corners, looking defeated. It was a lot, but I sha got my qualifying certificate in the evening, after getting there in the morning and went to submit it at the Supreme Court before returning for my invitation to the call to bar ceremony. In truth, most of it could’ve been done online. 

The Call to Bar — the ceremony where we’re officially qualified to practice law — itself was okay. We weren’t allowed to big earrings or makeup, and we had to dress “modestly”. 


*Names have been changed for anonymity.

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