Suzzette Kelechi Amanze began her law programme shortly after she switched over from International law to law upon her admission to Babcock University, Ogun state. She told JOHN CHIKEZIE her foray into wig and gown profession
I am Suzzette Kelechi Amanze. I am from Ezinihitte local government area in Imo state. My educational background, I would say, began in Delta state at Delta steel company primary school three. I completed Secondary School at Federal Government Girls College, Owerri. However, I gained admission to study international law at Babcock University, Ogun state, but later switched to law after my first year in school, and that was how my journey into the legal profession began. And in 2016, I obtained my LL.B. I was thereafter called to Bar on 12th December, 2017.
Well, this question is a typical one, I always do not have a direct answer to it. Well, I would say that I attempted both the Science (Social sciences) and the Arts classes, but later settled for Arts because I figured I participated better there.
Initially, I was a bit confused in choosing a career. My choice of choosing the Science class was largely influenced by my family, especially my mum and sisters. I felt I could follow their footsteps on becoming either a nurse or a doctor but later I realized I had no passion for it.
Somehow, the Arts class just made me settle for law, though I initially didn’t start college studying law. I gained admission to study international law and diplomacy at the University but I had to work very hard for a high CGPA in order to switch to law in my second year. Switching to law in 200 level was a battle that I fought tirelessly but somehow, I knew I had already been predestined from the beginning to become a lawyer.
My pupilage began in 100 level while studying international law as an intern in a law firm in Delta state. I was eager to know how the profession works. So, I already started my chamber and court attachment from 100 level. Then during the school summer break, I would get a law firm and intern for the short holiday, like G. O. K. Ebowe law firm in Delta state. Also there is a compulsory 5 to 6 weeks chamber attachment during the externship period in law school. Presently, I am undergoing my National Youth Service Corps programme and I am serving in Pinheiro LP in Abuja.
I am currently learning litigation and corporate law practice. But I am really interested in medical and health law practice and I am currently seeking a law firm or organization that is fully into it. I have a mentor, Dr. Cheluchi Onuobia, who is currently guiding me in that path of law. I think this is where my passion lies.
Within the short period of time I joined the legal profession, I would say that one of the challenges female lawyers face is this preference for the male gender in the profession. A lot of firms or companies would rather accept male lawyers than go for a lady. I can remember when I was looking for a primary place of assignment and I went to a government agency that needed lawyers but the lady expressly told me that if she would take, she would prefer guys and I asked what her reason was and she said “you know you ladies now, when you’re now employed, coming to work would become a problem and even before close of work, you ladies would hurriedly pack up your bags and leave because “he’s” waiting for you downstairs. I need guys who would be able to climb staircase and do searches.”
Another challenge is people wanting to take advantage of you because you are a female seeking for a job. (You know what I mean, let me not dwell on that point because it’s everywhere not just the legal profession) but it is really saddening just because we are females doesn’t make us less human.
Also, most firms disregard female lawyers, particularly those who are married (combining family responsibilities and all) because they feel their dedication wouldn’t be complete. Also some clients don’t want their work handled by a female lawyer because they think they are inadequate.
Law school experience
I began my first day with stress. I thought it would be the usual stressful registration process in Nigeria, but I spent several days just to conclude my registration.
In the Nigerian law school, we were subjected to stringent rules and regulations which are not new to me anyway because I attended a very strict private school that demands wearing skirts below the knee, wearing a shoulder length hair and no heavy make-up. My body had to conformed to extreme stress and that enabled me to learn how to multi-task in all aspects of my life.
In class, just like the Bible says, “I will make your hands that of a ready writer”, I would say this was seen and manifested in my life at the Nigerian Law School, Lagos Campus, because I wrote faster than I could imagine.
While writing, you have to listen attentively in order to understand. So, that’s like doing three major things at the same time; writing, listening and understanding. Through this process, the law school becomes a place that indirectly teaches you how to control your mind. This is because when you are in a class, you must be physically and mentally present because whatever is being said might just be relevant for the purpose of Bar part two (The final exams).
The Law school so far is a platform that teaches team work because there are times when we are shaped into groups and you are required to work with people you just met and barely know.
Also, the Lagos Campus, I would say, is a place where you don’t have an excuse but to work hard. We get to class by 9am and study till about 4pm, sometimes it exceeds. Everyday is a different story as you don’t know what the day holds. Some days just go by fast while some tend to drag until you can’t handle it again.
My advice to anyone intending to go there would be to just prepare for the worse that can happen. Be ready to devote your time to hard work and the law school in general. Another advice is try not to miss any class. This helped me a lot, in the sense that some questions that I saw in the exam hall were part of those we were taught or discussed in class and it just stuck there. Also, law school materials and curriculum topics are a lot to read, so attending classes consistently might just be what would help because it’s almost impossible for you to read everything. For me, I had my life in order because my dependency was on God, however, I worked hard.
Well, currently I am serving in a law firm and I would use the words of my colleagues, “in this profession we are just collecting allowance, others are earning salary” but honestly I think it is really poor and this is really discouraging.
Honestly, if you want to consider the remuneration you would just quit but because you have a driving force and passion for the profession, that’s just what would keep you. But for those fully into litigation, I think it is really bad. But to an extent, for those in the corporate field, it isn’t as bad as litigation.
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