Opeyemi: Visit courts, you’ll have minimal phobia



Appearance
I was called to the Nigerian Bar in November, 2013. Well, there is that phobia but the most important thing is that anybody who wants to litigate ought to go to court regularly. The only way you can eradicate that fear is for you to be consistently visiting court before you are called to the Bar. When you visit courts, you take note of what is happening, and how the lawyers there are behaving then you will have minimal fear. I didn’t have the phobia because before then, I was always going to the court of Appeal, and I knew the judge I was to appear before and I had been to that court twice before. To be true to you and to God, there was no phobia because I had been going to court.

Attitude of judges
Permit me to say that if judges are harsh, they are right because a time, if you don’t handle lawyers in the tough way, they may not learn.
Secondly, there are several activities that judges know we may have passed through in the university. Like mute and mock trials both at intra and inter school levels. Judges expect us to have participated well, and we wouldn’t have had problems.

Also, if you attend the Nigerian Law School, of course you do know that there is what we call Chambers and court attachments. During that time, you would spend some quality time in court, about six weeks just to be observing the general atmosphere of the court in terms of what the judges and lawyers are doing. So, you as a young lawyer, you are expected to take those times seriously. And not be a truant.

Advice
I think the underlining factor is just that, they must consistently and religiously go to court before they are called to the bar. Always go to the court as an under graduate of Law, and observe proceedings.
The mock trials are where they bring an imaginary scenario and the mute is where they have a court room, they would wear the wig and gown and practice really like lawyers. It is an imaginary case but they will handle it as if it’s a real case.

Then they will also learn to write briefs and statement of claims if it is a civil case, statement of defence if it is a criminal case. And learn how to draft their charges. And I also learnt that in Nigeria as a whole, there is a lot of competition going on both national and international mute and mock trial competitions, organize by senior lawyers. So students can avail themselves of these opportunities. And they would not have any fear in their first court appearance.

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