What They Won’t Tell You in Law School

What They Won’t Tell You in Law School

  • by Minnie Hamilton |
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Becoming a lawyer is the dream of so many. It was once a dream for me, but no longer one; not because I changed my mind over it, but because I went after it and made it happen.

My mum was not fully in support of my decision to study law. She felt I didn’t have the qualities that make for a good lawyer. I was the quiet and reserved type, and so she felt I was heading for the wrong profession. She advised that I study accounting or any of the business courses since I wasn’t science inclined. But my mind was made up, and there was no going back. For me it was law or nothing. There was no other option.

With the way I was so strong-headed about my foray into the profession, one would have thought that I knew exactly what I was doing. But as I would later realize, I didn’t have a clue as to what in the world I was doing.

I was already in my third year in the university when I began to second-guess my decision to study law. I began to think whether my mum was right after all, and I was wrong. It seemed like she saw what I couldn’t see as a boy, and now it’s becoming obvious to me. So I had asked myself whether I made a mistake to study law.

On a second thought, I felt maybe it was too early to begin to make that assessment.

On what basis was I even judging whether I made the wrong choice or not? On what basis did I even make that initial decision to study law in the first place?

I suddenly realized that all the while I’ve been making unguided decisions and assessments devoid of information and direction. But I also realized that I wasn’t the only one who was going through that path.

Unfortunately for me and many others like me, we would still have to walk the path of being in the dark for quite a while.

It wasn’t bad enough that we never had a proper information and guidance when we made that decision to study law, but the fact that we would still be thrown out into a world that is not just full of uncertainties, but that has so much changed from what it used to be, all in the name of being called to bar made it worse.

We so much celebrated our call to bar like we had acquired a license that will guarantee us all that we had ever desired and hoped for. We thought we were ready for the world, having poured in six years of our lives into that paper we had in our hands; our call to bar certificate.

But for some of us, we would soon discover that it was far from the truth.

It’s funny how well you think you are prepared for a thing and then suddenly realizes you are not ready for it.

I suddenly realized that all I had spent my years studying was just a bunch of laws and procedures that would turn out to be nothing without more. It dawned on me that law school had only prepared me to pass bar final, but had not prepared me for the business of law practice, neither had it prepared me for what I was going to face out there as a young lawyer.

I felt like I had been betrayed and lied to.

I felt lonely even in a crowded place. “So this is it?” I asked myself.

But I knew it was too late to go back. I had come a long way to contemplate going back; and so it was not even a thought. I made up my mind I was going to fight, even if it means fighting alone.

But I have to confess that it was really scary out there. The statistics were staggering. The numbers of unemployed lawyers were on the increase and yet thousands of people were getting called to bar every year.

The stories were frightening too. I was indeed scared.

But none of that was going to stop me. But I was still confused as to how I was going to go about it. I lacked direction on how to wade into the water. What were my options? What were the likely challenges I was going to face? What were the things I needed to know on how best to face these challenges? How do I properly position myself in other to be more likely to succeed than to fail?

Unfortunately for me, I never had answers to these questions before I plunged in. It was probably because I didn’t see how important it was for me to have gotten answers to those questions before making any move; and so I didn’t put in enough effort in finding the answers. And because of that, I experienced a very rough and bumpy ride during my early years as a young lawyer. I had fallen many times, sustained some scars along the way, but most importantly, I have learnt lessons that I consider invaluable.

I have had my own share of failures, mistakes, trials, triumphs and successes too. I have learnt lessons, most of which I did in a hard way.

I want to share with you some of these lessons. This is about me and my journey so far in the profession. It’s about the mistakes I made that you don’t have to make. It’s about the things I didn’t know when I started off, which I now know. It’s my story, but could be your lesson.

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Minnie Hamilton