How to Become a Lawyer in Nigeria


For anybody to be a lawyer in Nigeria, the person must first obtain an LL. B[1] (Bachelor of Laws) degree from a university whose Faculty of Law is duly accredited by both the National Universities Commission, and the Council of Legal Education. Subsequently, he must obtain a BL[2] (Barrister at Law) certificate from the Nigerian Law School. The Nigerian Law School now has six campuses (Abuja, Lagos, Enugu, Yenogoa, Yola, and Kano) and an applicant is at liberty to choose which one to attend.

So, to be a lawyer in Nigeria, one must possess two qualifications - LL. B and BL. LL. B alone, without BL, doesn't make anyone a lawyer. At best, the person is a Law Graduate like Funke Akindele, a popular Nigerian actress and many others.

What Does It Take to Become a Lawyer?

As earlier said, you must attend a university (not a polytechnic, please note!) and also the Nigerian Law School. The next thing to be discussed now are –

a.      requirements for studying Law

You need to have a minimum of five credits in either WAEC or NECO. Some universities do not accept combined results but many do.

Your five O’ Level credits should include English Language, Government, Literature-in-English, Mathematics, and any other subject. Some universities will not accept a Pass in Mathematics even when the knowledge of the subject is remotely connected to the study of Law or work of a lawyer.

Remember that possessing the above is good but is not enough, you still need to pass your UTME which usually comprises Four Subjects - English Language, Literature-in-English, Government, and possibly, a religious study of either CRK or IRK.

Most universities now conduct Post UTME exams before admitting candidates for their Law degree program. This means that even if you have your O' Level credits complete and have a good score in UTME, you also need to score up to the set benchmark in the Post UTME exams.

If you're able to gain admission into a Faculty of Law, then you start to count your years in school. Law runs for Five Years in all Nigerian universities that have the course.


Some of the courses that you will have to offer for the period of five years include constitutional law, criminal law, law of contract, law of torts, equity and trust, law of evidence, land law, jurisprudence, family law and so on.

Your training in a university for five years is regarded as theoretical (substantive), while the one you receive in the Law School is seen as practical (procedural).

b.      The Nigerian Law School

At the end of Five Years, you have to proceed to the Nigerian Law School unless you fail to meet certain criteria of the School which may include absence of criminal record or any cultist activity where you're coming from or if your university is not accredited to run Law program as in the case of Law Graduates of the National Open University of Nigeria, NOUN. The fact that you make a Third Class or Pass grade is not a barrier in gaining admission to the Law School.

The Nigerian Law School runs for one year and at the end of one year, persons who are able to have First Class, Second Class Upper or Pass will be called to the Nigerian Bar but those who fail to obtain any of those grades will have to go for a resit exam. In the Law School, courses offered are Civil Litigation, Criminal Litigation, Property Law Practice, Corporate Law Practice, and Law in Practice.

What about Persons Who Study Law Outside Nigeria?

Nigerians can study Law outside the country provided such foreign schools are among those recognized by the Council of Legal Education because after graduating from a foreign school, a Nigerian must come back and attend the Law School for one and half years, if the person desires to practise Law in Nigeria. The extra six months that this category of persons spend in the Law School are meant to teach them some courses that are peculiar to the Nigerian legal system such as constitutional law, criminal law, Nigerian legal system, and land law.

Who Cannot Become a Lawyer?

There is hardly any person who cannot become a lawyer except persons with criminal records or other questionable moral character.

A blind person, an old person, and a deaf and dumb can become a lawyer but working as a lawyer may be more challenging for persons with physical disabilities.

What Do Lawyers Do?

Let's remember that Law is the foundation of any society and without it, anarchy, criminality, and chaos will reign. Therefore, every society needs Law and lawyers who have been trained in the art of pleading the cause of others.

As a matter of fact, there is hardly any establishment without the need for the services of a lawyer. In Nigeria, a lawyer may decide to be a salary earner or a self-employed person. A lawyer may work with any of these outfits – the Police, EFCC, ICPC, NDLEA, NAFDAC, ITF, CBN, NNPC, FIRS, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, CAC, and many others. A lawyer may also join the academics and teach Law in a university or any other school as a polytechnic or College of Education where they have some borrowed Law courses.

A lawyer may work with international organisations like UNO, AU, ECOWAS, UNODC, ICC, and many others. There are also international non-governmental organisations like the Amnesty International, OSIWA, DFID, and so on.

Many people erroneously think that once you are a lawyer, then you have to go to court and practise as an advocate. The fact is that there are many lawyers who do not know anything about courtroom advocacy.

It must however be admitted that many lawyers go into practice as advocates. But even among lawyers who go to courts, there are so many other services they render. In summary, a lawyer’s work can be stated as follows:

i.                    you need a lawyer to fight for your rights.

ii.                 you need a lawyer to look at your contractual documents before you sign them. Take, for instance, you want to take a loan from a bank, you run the risk of going into debt if you collect the loan without involving a lawyer.

iii.               if you buy a piece of land, you need a lawyer to prepare the Land Sale Agreement for you.

iv.               you need a lawyer to interpret certain clauses in your letter of employment before you sign an acceptance copy.

v. you are going into a partnership agreement with another person, you need a lawyer's advice and guidance.

vi. you want a Will, you need a lawyer.

vii. you want to claim the entitlements of your late parent, consult a lawyer.

viii. you want to sell or let out a parcel of land or any property left for you by your parent, you need a lawyer.

ix. your landlord is threatening to throw your property out without a court order, see a lawyer.

x. you have a case in court - whether civil or criminal, you need a lawyer.

Now, can you now see that a lawyer does a lot? When some persons sarcastically ask - wetin lawyers dey do sef? - they need to be educated because without the Law and lawyers, a society is doomed.

Who is a Lawyer?

So, in view of the above explanation, if you’re asked who a lawyer is – what will you say?

In simple language, a lawyer is a person who has been trained as one and has been enrolled in the Register of the Supreme Court of Nigeria as a Barrister and Solicitor. This is why a lawyer can describe himself as a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

In Nigeria, a lawyer is also known by many other nomenclatures - barrister, solicitor, legal practitioner, advocate, counsel, legal representative and attorney.

However, in a place like the UK, a barrister is not a solicitor and vice versa. You’re either a Barrister or a Solicitor. But in Nigeria, that's not the case - there is no demarcation between a barrister and a solicitor. Every Nigerian lawyer is both a Barrister and Solicitor.

Are Lawyers Different from Judges?

Yes, they are. For any person to be a judge, the person must first be a lawyer. To become a judge of the High Court, for instance, a lawyer must have been working as a lawyer for, at least, ten years. To become a magistrate, on the other hand, a lawyer can become one after three years or more of beginning work as a lawyer. The position of a magistrate is lower to that of a judge. Note that you cannot be a lawyer and a judge at the same time.


Kehinde ADEGBITE Esq first gave this lecture in a virtual platform as “Wetin Lawyers Dey Do Sef?” to a Group of Friends who all belong to a particular WhatsApp Forum on 04 May 2020 and modified it to suit the present title on 28 July 2021.

[1] "LL.B." stands for Legum Baccalaureus in Latin.

[2] “BL” in Latin is known as ad legem causidicus