Nicole Chigbo, a recent graduate of the faculty of law at Adeleke University, Osun, spoke with Edugist about the intricacies of the legal profession. Excerpts:
Please share with Edugist a little about yourself and your background
My name is Nicole Chisom Chigbo. I am from Imo state, Isiala-Mbano Local Government Area. I am the first child of a family of three. I recently graduated with a law degree (Second Class Upper Division) from Adeleke University Ede, Osun state. I am an entrepreneur and the proprietor of ‘gifts by sommy’.
What motivated you to pursue a legal career?
The legal profession has been my passion ever since I was a little girl. I was always intrigued by the wigs and the gowns I saw on television and wondered why they wore it. It made them unique and prestigious from any other profession. Watching my aunty barrister B Nkeiru Mokwe act and speak passionately about the law, how she defended helpless clients increased my love for the profession, and to sum it up, during my stay at Lexfield Attorneys as an intern, I was given the privilege to visit numerous court rooms where I witnessed different trials and how lawyers, brilliant minds, dissected each argument brilliantly and achieved victory. At that point I knew I was on the right track. In my humble opinion, lawyers are superheroes.
What were your biggest challenges on campus and how did you deal with them?
My biggest challenge while on campus was the lack of freedom and the numerous rules. In dealing with them the first step was to accept them and to bear in mind that it was only for a period of time and that it was for my own good. The second step was chatting with my friends, chatting with them made me happy and kept me in a state of oblivion, in other words forgetting the challenges for a minute or two.
Have you had any challenges with a lecturer in the past?
No, I don’t think I have.
How different do you think your experience would have been if you attended a public university?
My experience in a public university would have been indeed different; it would have been more exciting, as I would have had more freedom than I did in a private school but with less reading hours due to the freedom. Also, going to a private school contributed greatly to the success in my academics.
What strategies did you employ to excel academically and gain practical experience in the field of law?
My major strategy was reading. I read every single day, even in my most unpleasant days I read as little as a page. I always tried as much as possible to gain knowledge every day. The other was a tutorial my friends and I formed which helped us immensely. We all tried to contribute in diverse ways and gained knowledge from each other. In order to gain practical experience, I participated in moot court trials while in school and interned at Lexfield Attorneys where I was given the privilege to attend court proceedings with my principal and other lawyers.
What specific courses or area of study within law did you find most challenging and how did you overcome those challenges?
That would be jurisprudence and law of contract. These courses were just too bulky and yet interesting. In order to overcome this challenge, I had to read these courses during the weekend, identified areas I couldn’t understand and then asked for assistance during my next tutorial to understand it better.
What extracurricular activities or leadership roles have contributed to your personal and professional growth?
Earlier this year, I was given the privilege of being part of the Pad-A-Girl 2.0 team, an extracurricular activity done by the law clinic of Adeleke University, Ede, Osun state. We visited two primary schools in Ede, Osun state. We taught period hygiene, distributed sanitary pads and taught them how to use it. It was an experience to remember and this contributed to my personal growth as I was given more reason to be thankful for and to appreciate the little things in my life.
How do you stay updated with the latest trends and developments in the field of law? Are there any specific journals, websites, or industry events you follow?
As a law student, staying up to date with the latest trends is essential for success. The internet has brought us an abundance of information and resources that can help to stay on top of current legal trends, but surfing through it all can be time consuming. So to make it easier I subscribe to professional newsletters that provide tailored insights relevant to the legal profession and I follow trustworthy social media pages that offer up-to-the minute updates on trending topics in law.
What areas of law are you particularly interested in and why?
As a lawyer I will particularly be interested in all aspects of law, but most especially Corporate and Commercial law. I have always loved the concept of business as I find business the centre of the universe and my career gives me an avenue to do what I love and still remain in line with the profession. Corporate and commercial law provides diverse opportunities as you will be working in many fields throughout your career. It also offers the opportunity to either work internally or as an external consultant.
Do you have any role models in the law profession?
Yes, I do have role models in the law profession, great lawyers who inspire me to do more and to achieve my goals such as Funmi Falana, Funke Adekoya (SAN), Dr Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), Dr Mrs Valerie Azinge (SAN), Abimbola Akeredolu (SAN) and much more.
How do you envision your future in the legal profession and what impact do you hope to make?
As the saying goes no one knows tomorrow. I, too, do not know what the future holds for me but I hope to make, just like my mentors, positive changes in the society. I hope to make a better Nigeria through my voice, uphold the law with great integrity and honour. I want my name to be mentioned among great lawyers in this country and I also hope to speak up for the common man.
What advice would you give to other young individuals who aspire to pursue a legal career?
I am not here to tell you what you already know but I am here to inspire you, to encourage you to be the best there can be. Law isn’t an easy course from time immemorial, but people sailed through so why wouldn’t you? My humble advice would be to not give up on your dreams even when it gets tough. Remember the reason why you got into the legal profession in the first place and stick to that. Most of all, put God first and He would see you through.