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TOP 10 TIPS OF GETTING INTO TOP LAW FIRMS IN NIGERIA (NYSC) I

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By Olukayode Olugbemi, Esq.

“Very rarely do the best things in life fall into our laps; we have to work for them.” ― Emilyann Girdner

Recruitment test or activities for top law firms is a continuous thing. You can get offers from many and pick where you want. It is not hard; you just need to know what works. The truth is, for these top firms, they are constantly in a competition to get the best hands, so they do the preliminary part of the recruitment by working with results; they just use the results to prune the number of those that passed the tests.

Also know that it is possible for the firms to conduct tests all over again if those that passed the tests earlier didn’t meet their grade specification but that rarely happens. Many things account for this improbability.

Those who were sure of their expected grades would have been eager to apply and often do. Some may not be fortunate to have the results come out as they expected but most will. The other numbers are those who weren’t expecting good grades but “luckily” had good grades. So those “miracle first class” or “I wasn’t expecting a 2.1” and it just came. They mostly find themselves in mid-sized firms or chambers as people call them. The point is, apply to the big boys if you have not. And if you do not know the big boys at this time, then you need to quickly fix that.

Now that you have applied and you have been invited for a test, some things to do and not to do. Below are my top ten tips about what to do and how to get into these firms.

olukayode-olugbemi-003-1360760129776061066.jpg Olukayode Olugbemi, Esq.

 “It always seems impossible until it is done.” – Nelson Mandela

1. Not always “man knows man” – Take it off your mind that the firms already know those they want to recruit. It is MOSTLY false. Ask Kenna Partners and Olaniwun Ajayi why they increased their NYSC pay to almost 200k when other firms like Aluko & Oyebode, Banwo & Ighodalo, Templars, UUBO were always getting the best hands because they paid some extra cash than they did. It is a real “war.”

Also note that if these big firms employ anyone based on a “letter” or “recommendation” from anyone, the number is usually insignificant – like 2 out of a possible recruitment of 12 or 15. So you stand a better chance of landing the job than the person with a letter.

Think of it this way, 10 people came with letters, the firms mostly have policies of not taking more than 2 people based on letters and 13 based on performance at the tests and interviews. It is tougher for those with letters because “leg long pass leg.”

 “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” ― Abraham Lincoln

2. Be prepared – Please find out from those within these firms what the recruitment tests are like. Free gift – top firms like to test your analytical reasoning, hence the LSAT is a preliminary test for most firms. It could be mixed with some law school work to test your knowledge of the law. Practice, practice and practice. Again, most top firms are corporate firms and have their main practice areas around Banking and Finance, Capital Markets. So you can’t do without knowing basic CAMA provisions and basic security or Mortgage perfection in Property law. You also can’t do without basic knowledge of the law of Contract. I know you may now dislike Prof. Itse Sagay but please brush up on the basics on the law of contract – what constitutes a valid offer, acceptance, sufficiency or adequacy of a consideration – basic stuff. When you finish the tests and maybe you get invited for an interview. Please note these points.

“Never underestimate the power of a good outfit on a bad day.” – Anonymous

3. Dress properly – Gentlemen, please have a haircut. Be neat, prim and proper. Wear a perfume and smell nice. White shirt or blue (navy blue) please. Don’t come in wearing a red shirt like Sango. Avoid unnecessary jewelry. I know you like your “hand of the king” brooch and your lapel from school but don’t make your jacket look too busy. One is enough. Remove rings if they aren’t your wedding band or engagement.

“Politeness is an inexpensive way of making friends.” – William Feather

4. Be polite and courteous – Say hello to everyone you see in the office. You don’t know “who is what”. The “short man with a potbelly” you didn’t greet might be the chair of the panel. When you get into the room, greet everyone and when they are introduced, take a mental note of their names.

“Knowledge itself is power.” – .Sir Francis Bacon

5. Know the firm – Know something about the firm and its top dogs. You should also research on some of the top persons in that firm and know some things about them. Let me share a little story during my time. At this top litigation firm, I had checked out the profile of most people in that office and the session was headed by one of the partners. Fortunately I had read so much about him and knew that he started in that firm from his NYSC days till he became a Partner and that he just recently got the SAN title. When he was introduced, I smiled and told him all these facts about himself. The same goes for some of the other partners there. The entire interview became a “gist session” sort of. I got my offer letter but had to turn it down. Please know the partners. You don’t necessarily have to throw their life facts at them. But having a pre-knowledge about them helps you to be calm.

“An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” ― Benjamin Franklin

6. Know basic grammar. Please know the difference between “will and would” “it’s” and “its”, I’m and am, advice and advise; basic stuff. And we do not always get them right but you must not always mix them up.

“All sorrows are less with bread.” ― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

7. EAT BEFORE GOING.

 “Home means always here…” ― Anonymous

8. Use proper language. Drop your colloquial language at home. Do not fake an accent. Please speak in simple basic terms. Drop the legalese or the Latin maxims. Top firms don’t write in legalese so if you think your legalese will impress them, you are killing yourself sorry.

“Never pray for justice, because you might get some.” ― Margaret Atwood

9. PRAY – Above all, pray to be favoured. It’s a tough choice to select the best amongst the best.

“Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?” ― Corrie Ten Boom

10. CONTINUE TO PRAY.

Good luck.

Share your success or disappointing stories. I would be glad to encourage or rejoice with you.

 

Olukayode Olugbemi, Esq. is a legal practitioner…

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