Hello beautiful people of LaLa Land. Who else noticed we’ve been in January for like three months now and it’s still just the twenty-seventh?. 2017 will be a really long year after all.
It’s my third week interning and it has been amazingly tiring. Getting to suit up and wear court heels, having my own office and an internet connected company laptop is nice, as well as getting to talk to lawyers and law school interns with dozens of advice and research work to help the undergraduate baby in the field. I even got to see Fani Kayode and the court proceeding against him by the EFCC and Senior Advocates collide in a Federal High Court with so much confidence in their knowledge of the Law and respect accorded to them by other lawyers, it was awesome.
Yet, I’m super exhausted and glad I’m going to be done next week. It feels like I don’t know enough, might never know enough when it comes to law. After my first week working, I called my dad and said, “It must have been really hard. Coming home 10-11pm and leaving for work before 6am. Driving to the Island every single day, having responsibilities”. He laughed.
Lagos traffic is crazy, the heat in the white cramped buses is crazier and not being able to just take a day off work is craziest.
Being an adult means obligations, and I’m definitely not ready now. Can I go back to sleeping all day and watching TV during the holidays?
Now to my real life questions!!!
- First question: does using the internet rather than the library make you a lazy worker?
So this lawyer asked me to find legal authorities on a particular aspect of Law that I wouldn’t even get to study till year 4. I was so excited and I ran to the library enthusiastically. Yaay, my first legal research
Naturally, I’d just go to the internet to find the legal position and statutory authorities on the matter but I was bothered it was the wrong way of working and I might come off as being lazy. So to the library I went; Land law, Commercial law, Landlord and Tenant law, Property and Conveyancing law, I basically read more law than I have throughout my two-year law experience
I learnt being frustrated isn’t merely about Joshua being a pain in the neck or your little brother using all your data to download movies while you’re asleep. Knowing you know nothing and being unable to do anything about the nothing you know you don’t know is exasperating!
I decided to check google anyway and I was directed to a particular Lagos State law which had the provision I needed. I ran off happily to the associate (maybe using google is what it means to work smart after all). However he already specified that the Law must apply to Ikoyi, Lagos and I only read the applicable section without reading the whole Law. Turns out there was an exception in Section 2 which made the law inapplicable to Ikoyi.
I was terribly embarrassed, a reasonable person would read Section 1 and 2 of a law at least and I knew for sure if I had not used google and stumbled on the law myself, I would have seen the exception.
Anyway, I went back to the library and read every foreign textbook I could find including Halsbury’s Laws of England and cases in the Queen’s Bench report, Court of Chancery etc, something I’m sure most year 5 Law students have never done sef. Hours later, I decided to admit my failure and went back to the associate.
I knew the law was there somewhere, I could feel I was searching all wrong and it made me feel stupid.
The associate asked whether I checked Nigerian weekly law reports, I actually did check some less bulky law reports I saw. How exactly am I supposed to check the thousands of parts of the Nigerian weekly law report anyway? He looks up and says, “that’s why there’s an index. Check the index”.
I remembered the library visitation in Year 1 during Law102 where the lecturer took us in batches to teach us how to use Law reports. I remembered not listening and playing with my phone at the back. I felt stupider.
Back to the library I went and for hours I sat with the hefty indexes of the law reports, checked so many cases and I eventually almost started crying. There’s this popular law quote by Lord Denning, a prominent master of law about a good lawyer being one who knows not all the law but where to find the Law.
Even Lord Denning was trying to tell me I made the wrong career decision.
With eyes swollen from reading more law than I’ve ever read in my life, I went back to google and found nothing either. With frustration and shame, I admitted to the lawyer that I didn’t find anything. Turns out he had already checked and with his better knowledge of finding the law, got nothing. A youth corp law intern finally did though, through the library. I’m still not sure if it’s more professional and hardworking to use Google to find answers.
- Second question: how do people live the everyday stress of having a job?
One of the reasons I decided to intern was to see real law in practice and decide what I really want to do. There’s always the quote about going for your passion, doing what you love doing best etc. Believe me, they’re not mere motivational pictures you keep on your phone.
I have a friend that studied Food Technology but works as a journalist, doing what I believe he loves. I’m however perturbed as to how the system expects us to decide what we love when we’re only taught the books and not the realities. Real practice of law isn’t “Contract can be defined as…”.
Anyway, I’ve discovered that if you let someone else dictate what you ought to do with your life, what career path you ought to take, you’ll probably wither away and lose yourself.
Real life, having a job, taking responsibilities and building a career is actually not a joke. It’s not like school where you can wake up one morning and take the day off because you don’t feel like going to class. You can’t decide you want to come late today or leave early tomorrow if you’re employed by someone. In fact, even if you’re the boss, you’re expected to be dedicated and work harder than you employees if you want respect. And with the high rate of unemployment, you might end up having to stick to the career you detest or you were forced to go for and believe me, everyday your soul will die, every single day.
- Third question: what if you’re naturally lazy, how do you survive real life responsibilities?
Haha! this might seem really funny but it is a real life thing. My friends and I make jokes about how lazy we are and how we’ve never actually finished reading up all topics before any exam. I’d always select topics and take exam risks and if it turns out negative, I most times don’t regret my laziness but promise myself to be more serious the next time (this is the difference between real lazy people and those who claim to be, we are too lazy to regret the outcome of our laziness).
Now more seriously, there’s actually a thin line between laziness and lack of inspiration. Being asked to read up on a convention concerning biodiversity when you don’t even know what biodiversity is hard especially when every few minutes you have to checkup the dictionary for the meaning of a word. Then you begin to skim through instead of actually reading the convention and you remember this is what you actually do without your academic, skimming through textbooks and using common sense to bulldoze your way through. Then you drop the convention you’re supposed to research on altogether, check-in whatsapp, instagram, twitter, then you get to LinkedIn and see the “seven characters of successful people” article written by a billionaire and hard work, passion and creativity is listed top in bold. You know you’re never patient enough to read any law or book or article without reflexly skimming through when you lack motivation. You know get bored real fast and you’re easily distracted. You know you’re too lazy to even try to be creative and half the time to time never push yourself out to do your best. You know there’s this big void bereft of motivation in Law for you. And most of all, you know being successful isn’t an option, It’s mandatory. Then you realize you really have a big real life problem and you need to solve it real fast.