I am going to be brutally honest with you, there is no hard and fast rule to acing Bar Finals. There is no magic stick, magic word, academic technique or philosophical inspiration that can gift success at the Bar on a platter of Gold. There is only one way; the long, hard and narrow way; the sometimes frustrating but effectively satisfying road, the “surest” way which is perhaps basic but difficult, which includes reading, study and meditating on each topic until you understand the basics for purposes of Bar Part II.
I know you must have been reading for weeks, or maybe months but somewhere deep down you still have this dreadful feeling that you have not mastered some topics in maybe “Civil and/or Corporate Law Practice” (which is usually the proverbial Achilles heel of most budding lawyers) or maybe Criminal Litigation; don’t panic! These things happened to the best of us too. The uncertain feeling, the butterflies, sleepless nights and sometimes bad dreams are all symbols of Bar Finals at the Nigerian Law School and perhaps any other Law School in the world. Be rest assured that if you have read and you understand what you have read, while having an understanding of how Bar Final questions then you would definitely succeed.
In order to aid your success I would want you to take note of some tips, I believe would greatly assist you when answering Bar Final questions. The importance of these tips cannot be overstated as several students fail Bar Finals solely because they do not understand certain principles governing Bar Part II exams. I completely believe, that if you have covered all the major topics, and understand them, and you take these tips to heart, not even your “village people” can stop you from succeeding at Bar Finals.
- ANSWER QUESTIONS 1 AND 4 FIRST: One secret unknown to most students is the fact that answering the first 2 compulsory questions could be the determining factor whether you will pass or fail the Bar Finals. These two questions give u a total of 50 marks (25 each) and as such should be given the priority it deserves. More often, time is never enough, however, in fulfilling your wish of answering all questions with the burning enthusiasm and gusto you desire, questions 1 and 4 MUST not be left out.
- AVOID THE INCURABLE ERROR OF ANSWERING QUESTIONS FROM SECTION A AND B IN ONE ANSWER SHEET: Each Nigerian Law School Bar Finals question paper is divided into two section, Section A and Section B. In the same vein, Nigerian Law School provides you with two Answer Sheets, hence, expects you to answer questions from section A in the first Answer Sheet and questions from Section B in the second Answer Sheet. Anything short of this is void.
- BE CAREFUL, MULTIPLE QUESTIONS HIDE UNDER ONE QUESTION: History has repeatedly shown that most times multiple questions hide under the guise of being one question only. Bar Finals candidates are expected to discern the border line differentiating each question and likewise provide the expected answers accordingly.
- COHERENT AND LOGICAL ARGUMENT: Examiners love logical and coherent legal arguments and answers. This makes your work easy and enjoyable to mark.
- DO NOT SPEND MORE THAN 45 MINUTES ON A QUESTION: Be time conscious. Do not waste too much time on a single question. Maximize time and ensure you ATTEMPT all questions.
- DO NOT PANIC/DO NOT BE INTIMIDATED: A lot of students get intimidated by colleagues who are always eager to show off their academic bravado or act like they know it all. Ironically, the best students don’t fall within such circles. So do not be intimidated by such. Rather, read calmly and ensure you understand what you have read. Do not panic or let your fears usurp you. Always have it at the back of your mind that Bar Finals have been successfully written and passed by previous candidates who might not even have been as smart as you are and that there is surely nothing you cannot do if you are determined to do so and work hard towards it.
- MASTER ALL YOUR DRAFTS: It is important that you do not neglect your drafts in all subjects as they are a very good way of earning cheap marks. Practice, memorise and understand them, including the most challenging ones.
- THE BETTER YOU UNDERSTAND THE QUESTIONS THE CLOSER YOU ARE TO YOUR ANSWER: Bar Finals are not like your university questions where you “cram and pour”. You must understand the questions you have been asked. A few minutes out to understand and interpret the questions ain’t bad. Most of the times the answers required are straightforward and require just a sentence or two to show the Examiner that you understand and know what you are doing.
- READ AND FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY: Ensure that before you start each paper, you read and understand the instructions given. This can make or Mar your exam. Also make sure you cross-check your answers after concluding each question. Correcting those little final mistakes can make a difference.
- PRAY HARD AND SEEK GOD’S FAVOUR: There is only one ultimate game changer and what he can do has never been in doubt. Never rely on your own strength. But as fondly said, Heaven help those who help themselves. Remember faith without works is dead. So work hard, abide by the above rules and round it up with prayers, then your success is satisfactorily guaranteed.
Joshua Filani is an accomplished legal practitioner, entrepreneur and researcher who has authored several articles and write ups. He is a founding partner in Black Orchid (Barristers & Solicitors) as well as Bronks and Montgomery (Africa’s leading outfitter for the Legal Profession) and is very passionate about budding lawyers and how to ensure that Lawyers fulfill their God given potentials. For more information, comments, and queries, contact him at [email protected]