Adetutu Olowu, 22, a graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, graduated with a first class from the Lagos campus of the Nigerian Law School in the 2014/2015 academic session. In this interview with TUNDE AJAJA, she shares her experience
Was it your dream as a child to be a lawyer?
Yes, I had always dreamt of becoming a lawyer, even as a child. The main reason at that time was because I was fascinated by the respect and admiration people had for lawyers, especially in their formal dress (the wig and gown). So, I dreamt to be one, and I’m glad I made that decision.
How was your experience in the school?
I found Law school very challenging and a bit stressful. The classes were always long and we had assignments and tasks to work on every day. It was better to read so as to reduce the workload when exams were close. Being in Law School requires a lot of focus and effort, but I found that it was good for my development as a person. People told me how difficult it could be to have a first class, but those stories strengthened my resolve to excel.
How easy was it to graduate with a first class from the Law school?
It was very challenging. In fact, the road to having a first class was the most challenging one I ever encountered till date. It didn’t come easy, but thank God I made it. I’m definitely a product of hard work and God’s blessing. Having a first class in Law requires hard work and my case wasn’t different. I had to drive myself very hard because I had the mind of having a first class and I knew it wouldn’t come easy, so I prepared for it. I used to read from the beginning to the end of the session and then asked God to crown my effort with success. So, that combination made it possible.
Did you also have the same performance when you were in OAU?
My performance was average when I was an undergraduate and that was because I didn’t put in enough effort in the first three years. By the time I was in 400 Level, I knew that I didn’t want to finish with a 2.2, so I started making the necessary changes that eventually got my grades up, and that was why I finished with a 2:1. Maybe if I had taken things seriously from the beginning, I would have done better. From my 400L to 500L, I experienced a radical improvement in my results. Interestingly, I have always excelled in my academics; I passed my West African Senior School Certificate Examination and the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination very well – at one sitting. The only periods that I didn’t perform well were during my first three years as an undergraduate and it was primarily because I thought I could continue with old methods and get the same results. Thank God I changed that approach before it was too late. I realised that if I put in the required effort, I could and would be the best in all I did. Thus, I didn’t need anyone to tell me before I adopted that measure when I got to the Law School. I worked hard, but more important was God’s grace.
The performance at the three Law Schools this year was not very good, evidenced by the fact that there were only four first class graduates and Lagos school produced two, out of which you are one. Beyond hard work, were there other things you did differently to have it?
Well, I read before every class, listened to advice from the lecturers on how to pass the Bar exams. I also attended the small group discussions in order to learn from my peers and I asked God for help. However, my decision to have a first class also helped because when I was admitted in April 2014, my plan was to finish with a first class, and that kept me focused. I had something I was working towards. Also, the support I got from my parents was helpful. When I was starting Law School, I told my family that I was aiming for a first class and they, especially my mother, supported me with their prayers and love.
What was your typical day like in the Law School?
I used to wake up by 3:00am and read till 5:30am, after which I would have my bath and go back to sleep. After that, I would wake up by 8:00am, have my breakfast and prepare for class. We used to spend about eight hours in class with just thirty minutes lunch break. After classes, I took time out to gist with my roommates and friends, ate dinner and then go to bed.
A number of people see Law as a complex, voluminous and technical course, what is your view on that?
Law is indeed very complex, voluminous and technical. However, I believe that consistent reading will aid understanding of the course, and approaching the course with an understanding that all aspects of Law are interrelated would help simplify it.
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Some people think that cramming is a necessity for anyone to excel in Law, especially when it comes to cases. Did you have to cram as well?
No, I didn’t. I’m not very good at cramming. In fact, I didn’t cram lots of cases or statutes for the bar exam. I believe that the most important thing is to understand the principles of law so that one can apply them to problems in order to proffer solutions.
Which area would you like to specialise in?
Law is interrelated, but I have flair for International Business Law or Corporate Finance.
How long were you reading?
I can’t really say the exact number of hours I read daily because I read as time permitted. However, I made sure I read every topic before each class. That gave me an idea of what to expect and to be able to ask informed questions and clarify anything I didn’t understand while reading.
How often did you use the library?
I hardly used the library because I realised that I usually slept there. So, the best place I read was either in my room or the reading room in the hostel.
How would you describe your social life?
I was not very social, but my friends understood my kind of person, so they let me be. However, I tried to be social from time to time, just as they say all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. I tried to be involved a bit in some social activities.
Being a young lady, how did you handle peer pressure?
I’m an independent person and I have been like that for as long as I can remember. In addition, I hang out with like-minded people who would not put pressure on others to do anything they don’t want to do. So, that wasn’t a problem for me.
How did you use your leisure?
I read fictional books and I watched a lot of movies.
How did you handle gestures from men, who might be attracted to your brilliance?
I tried to be friendly with them, but I always made my position clear and I stood by it. It didn’t stop me from mixing and relating with them, but there were boundaries and we all respected that.
What were your most memorable moments?
My happiest memory till date is the day I saw my Law School result. It remains a day to remember. If you set a goal and you worked at it, coupled with your faith and you achieve that set target, it will surely be memorable and I cherish that moment. However, I also won’t forget the day I fell in church because I was wearing heels and the ground was wet. I felt embarrassed.
What are your immediate plans and aspirations?
I intend to practise for some time and go for my Master’s very soon. I like to go deeper. Law is an interesting course that any interested person would find attractive. I’m glad to be in this profession.
Where do you hope to work?
I look forward to working in a big and reputable law firm. I like to practise, but law is a course that is relevant to every aspect of life, so I might venture into something else in future.
What would you advise students to do to have an excellent result?
Students should read very well. There is no shortcut to that. They should not be too proud to ask for help from their peers when they need to. Above all, they should always ask God to crown their efforts with success.
Original story by Tunde Ajaja, Punch Newspapers