Myth 3: You have to draft every day if you want to pass the Bar Finals
The first time I had a look at a book containing template drafts for the 5 courses in the Nigerian Law School, I was a bit terrified. There were hundreds and hundreds of drafts to learn, and we had been told in class that we had to learn all of them because we could be tested on any one of them in exams. The advice we were given on how to cope with this was to draft, draft, and draft some more. When you wake up in the morning, practice a draft, before you sleep at night, draft again. So, I was obsessed with drafting for the first two weeks of class, until I engaged in some reflection and realised that I was simply being an automaton, performing the motions but learning nothing.
You don’t have to draft everyday to become an expert in the trade
Drafting is important, no doubts about that, but what is even more important is your understanding of legal rules/principles, and your ability to interpret factual scenarios accurately and apply the relevant rule/principle in that context. Imagine providing a perfect draft of a motion on notice for joinder of party in a question requiring a motion ex – parte for third-party proceedings, because you misinterpreted the facts? That would be a disaster.
The emphasis in questioning in the law school has also moved away from requiring a replication of a standard draft to testing your knowledge of the substance of the draft
You don’t have to draft every day to become an expert in the trade. When I discovered that the structure for most of the drafts was basically the same (i.e. the heading of the court, suit no, parties, title of the draft, etc), it made all the difference in the world for me. It made me focus my energies on understanding the variables in particular drafts (e.g. the prayers to make, the Orders supporting certain applications, etc) and not replicating a standard format a hundred times in a bid to learn.
The emphasis in questioning in the law school has also shifted away from requiring replication of a standard draft to testing your knowledge of the substance of the draft. For example, rather than being asked to draft a deed of assignment, you could be asked to draft certain parts of a deed of assignment and state their importance. In the alternative, you could be provided with a draft in the question, and be asked to redraft it, which requires you identifying the flaws in the draft you were given.
So, take your drafting seriously, but remember that it is not about the reflexive repetition of templates, but understanding the rationale behind the scribbling you do.
Have a good week!
February 3, 2019
January 6, 2019