Judges are legal professionals who have been involved in extensive education and have a wealth of experience in the profession. The status of being a judge requires that you have developed the necessary skills, knowledge and abilities.
The judiciary is often referred to as the third arm of government in Nigeria. The judiciary consists of judges, magistrates and lawyers whose jobs are to argue cases, give judgments in court and cater to the regulation of justice. There is a particular group of the judicial arm who form the bench. The bench consists of judges and magistrates, who preside over matters or cases in court. Becoming a judge in Nigeria is the dream of almost every law student in any Nigerian university. But this huge feat does not come easily, it requires integrity, hard work and consistency. Also, there are certain achievements and requirements to be met before qualification as a judge in Nigeria. This article explains all you need to know about becoming a judge in Nigeria. Read on below:
Earn a bachelor’s degree
To become a judge, you must first earn a Bachelor’s degree at an accredited University. There are Nigerian schools that offer pre-law courses that are relevant to law such as criminal justice, political science and philosophy. However, it is always recommended that you have a degree in Law itself. If taking a pre-law course, you must be grounded in relevant areas such as English language, communications, public speaking and sociology to prepare you for another degree in law. It is important that you earn a bachelor’s degree in law so as to be able to apply for law school which is a needed pre-requisite in your journey towards becoming a judge.
In addition to earning a degree, an aspiring judge must engage in internship opportunities. It is only through internships at law firms that one can gain the needed knowledge to advance in one’s law career. Internships afford you the opportunity of networking and learning from those who have gone ahead of you in the profession. While in school, you can also be involved in other extracurricular activities such as debating to gain more experience and expertise as you journey on.
Get into Nigerian Law School
The Nigerian Law School is an educational institution set up by the Nigerian Government to provide a uniform legal education and practical training for aspiring legal practitioners in Nigeria.
Nigerian Law School Requirement
Before you can be admitted into the one-year law school training, you must have successfully completed a law undergraduate degree (LLB or its equivalent) in an accredited university. Compulsory courses that one must take at the Nigerian Law School include Criminal Litigation, Civil Litigation, Property Law Practice, Corporate Law Practice and Law in Practice (ethics and skills). These courses are channeled towards educating the to-be practicing lawyers about legal practices in Nigeria.
Taking the bar exam
At the Nigerian law school, you will also be exposed to practical ways of how the Nigerian legal system works and required to complete two periods of externships; in a court and a law firm. After you have been taught the important aspects of the Nigerian legal system, you will then be required to take the bar examination. If you pass the bar examination, you will be presented with a certificate of the call to bar and enrolled in the Roll of Legal Practitioners.
Create your resume
After completing your schooling at the Nigerian law school, you must take the creation of your resume seriously. You will need to include every experience you have to give you an edge over other job applicants in the market. Your resume should pay attention to your education as well as the organizations you have worked with. Remember that a well-written resume will make a positive impression on potential employers. Ensure you take time to include skills and duties you have performed in the past that are relevant to the organization you are applying to; the closer your resume matches a job posting, the better your chances at getting the job.
Consider becoming a clerk
One viable option upon completion of law school is to get a job as a judicial clerk. A clerk is a professional who assists an appointed judge in their duties. A clerk offers assistance and legal counsel to the public while the judge makes a judgment. He or she is also responsible for writing the judges’ legal opinions. A clerk is able to network and meet other professionals in the legal profession. A position as a clerk increases one’s chances of becoming a judge in the future. The clerk is always in a close relationship with the judge which means an opportunity to learn and be influential compared to other lawyers.
At all Nigerian courts, a person can only be qualified for recommendation and appointment as a judge after practicing as a qualified legal practitioner in Nigeria for a period of ten to fifteen years. This goes to say that you can only become a judge after practicing as a lawyer in Nigeria. Judges are appointed after years of trying cases in their legal careers. There are several routes through which you can decide to practice law in Nigeria. You can work with the public service, as a prosecutor or a public defender, or with a private law practice. Trying cases is an important activity if you wish to become a judge in Nigeria. You will be able to gain firsthand experience of courtroom proceedings and also make connections in legal circles. As you keep practicing law and handle cases well, you will gain the attention of individuals responsible for appointing judges and will someday be shortlisted or considered for appointment.
It goes without saying that one must be seen to have been knowledgeable, well experienced before he or she can be considered for an appointment as a judge. It is a dream that requires hard work from the start of one’s law career.