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Deputy VC craves reform of legal education in Nigeria

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Prof. Damilola Olawuyi (SAN)

Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic, Research, Innovation and Strategic Partnerships), Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti, Prof. Damilola Olawuyi (SAN) has called for a rapid reform of legal education in the country to develop practice-ready lawyers who can contribute meaningfully to the nation’s economic rebirth.

According to a statement, Olawuyi, who is also a Co-Chairman of the Legal Education Committee, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), made the call at a lecture organised to mark 10th anniversary of Law Week of the Ado Ekiti Branch of NBA.

In his remarks titled “Thinking Like a Lawyer in the 21st Century”, Olawuyi, noted: “Not so long ago, being asked to ‘think like a lawyer’ meant having advanced oral advocacy and critical thinking skills to spot legal risks and win cases in court.

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“However, in today’s increasingly globalised market place, thinking like a lawyer means blending knowledge of the law with project management, data analytics, technology innovation, and sharp entrepreneurial skills. “Knowing the law alone is no longer sufficient to be successful in today’s fast-paced world. Clients have tasted the efficiency and astuteness of consulting firms and now expect the same from lawyers.

“Unfortunately, however, most law faculties continue to train students for analogue and traditional practice of law with little or no knowledge of business intelligence, strategic planning, and use of data analytics tools, such as Ghant and LACI charts. The society is not static, so legal education cannot afford to be static.”

The deputy VC called on universities and the Nigerian Law School to embrace “rapid pedagogical change” by developing tailored courses that prepare law students for modern realities.

He noted that the current situation whereby lawyers are underpaid, undervalued and underemployed will be a thing of the past if law graduates have market awareness and entrepreneurship skills needed to move beyond traditional practice areas and become leaders in contemporary and economically important areas, such as cybersecurity and artificial intelligence law, space and aviation law, healthcare law, food and agricultural law, decarbonisation and carbon finance law, amongst others.

This year’s conference themed “The 21st Century Lawyer: Integrating Business Skills with Legal Knowledge” explored innovative approaches to enhancing the skills of lawyers to thrive in an increasingly globalised marketplace.

In his keynote speech at the event, Dr. Babatunde Ajibade (SAN), emphasised the need for a 21st century lawyer to have a sharp understanding of the legal market and to integrate business knowledge and technology into the practice of law.

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