Legal Education in Nigeria: A Chronicle of Reforms and Transformation Under Tahir Mamman

Legal Education in Nigeria: A Chronicle of Reforms and Transformation Under Tahir Mamman is a case study of change that tells the story of opportunities to transform legal education.

We can trace the history of legal education to about 1962 when the first indigenous law faculties and the Nigerian Law School were established. In spite of deafening calls for many years for reforms of legal education in Nigeria, not much was done except that the National Universities Commission introduced a uniform law programme in 1990. The calls for reforms continued thereafter.

Read the full paper here

IBA African Regional Forum releases a new guide on data protection and privacy laws for the legal profession

The International Bar Association (IBA) African Regional Forum has released a new Data Protection/Privacy Guide for Lawyers in Africa, in recognition of growing requirements for safeguarding of personal data in accordance with legal principles across the continent. The guide was developed in the context of the European Union’s data protection law, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which lays out rules and conditions around the collection and processing of personal information from individuals who live in the EU. Since the implementation of the GDPR data controllers in both Europe and Africa have called for the implementation of similar standards in Africa. However, there has been little guidance given to legal practitioners as to how to comply with the directives.

Pieter Steyn, the immediate past Co-Chair of the African Regional Forum and the Guide’s project lead said: ‘The aim of the IBA African Regional Forum’s new guide is to provide vital support for practitioners navigating the complex and changing world of data protection law. Comprehensive and practical in design, the guide will aid lawyers in advising clients and ensuring compliance by their practices with the fast-evolving and increasingly expansive areas of data protection and privacy laws’.

The new guide has drawn on international best practice guidelines and data laws already adopted in African nations.  Chapters include:

  • Data protection in Africa;
  • Data protection principles;
  • Individual rights;
  • Data controller/data processor obligations; and
  • Regulator powers;

Babatunde Ademola Ajibade, SAN (PhD) FCIArb, Chair of the IBA African Regional Forum and Managing Partner at SPA Ajibade & Co in Nigeria, commented: ‘Data protection is of great importance to us all. There are many related rights for individuals, including the right to access, rectification and erasure, all of which must be safeguarded by individuals who have a firm understanding of their legal and moral obligation to ensure the necessity of protection. I am delighted that the IBA African Regional Forum is at the forefront of an initiative to provide guidance to lawyers and bar associations on the new data protection regimes across the continent and the importance of protecting personal data and privacy for individuals and business.’

Read more about the guide and download it here.

Nigeria Bar Association launches survey on technology and globalisation

Following the creation of the Future of Legal Practice Committee, by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), which was recently established with a mandate of facilitating significant improvement in the quality and standard of legal services rendered by legal practitioners. The NBA has now launched a survey of all its members collating the views of both the Bar and the Bench.

The views will be collated into a future report on the effects of technological innovation and globalisation on the legal profession in Nigeria. The results will then be used to inform the future direction of the Committee and its recommendation to the NBA.

View the survey here, or read more here.

An Appraisal of Professional Legal Ethics and Proper Conduct for Lawyers In Nigeria


Members of the legal profession in Nigeria have an enormous responsibility to discharge, not only to their clients but also to the court, the profession, their professional colleagues, and the society at large. However, for some time in the recent past, both the Bench and the Bar have had cause to complain about the conduct of some legal practitioners in Nigeria. It is therefore not surprising that quite often, the public judges the legal profession by the standard of its erring members, hence the need to continue to highlight the various duties and responsibilities of the lawyer and the need for members of the Bar to be fully alive to these duties and responsibilities in order to check the falling ethical standard in the profession, be examples to the society in which they find themselves and ultimately promote the honour and nobility of the profession. Discipline at the bar is very essential. This is because offences, to which the police attach no significance when committed by a medical doctor, may be attended with humiliation and embarrassment when committed by a lawyer. Similarly, a simple act of breach of the law by an accountant, which may not be considered as anything, may form banner headlines in newspapers and magazines if committed by a lawyer. This only stresses the fact that society views lawyers as custodians of a high moral value and distinguished members of the society, whose conduct and activities should serve as a light to the rest of the society. To maintain this standard and meet the high expectation of the society on lawyer, the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners has been put in place to guide and regulate legal practice and the conduct of legal practitioners, especially with respect to their duties and responsibilities to their clients, the court, the profession and the society at large, and of course their rights and privileges. The Rules was made by the General Council of the Bar pursuant to the power conferred on it by section 12 (4) of the Legal Practitioners Act. This paper undertakes a general overview of professional legal ethics for legal practitioners in Nigeria as set out in the Rules of Professional Conduct as well as in the Legal Practitioners Act, Nigeria. Specifically, the paper highlights the general professional responsibility of legal practitioners, the duties of a Legal practitioner to his client, the court of law, the society, the state and the legal profession, as well as the rights and liabilities of legal practitioners in Nigeria. The paper concludes that while a lawyer should be persistent in his pursuit of a cause diligently and erudite in the mastery of the cause he serves, he must realize that his duty is much more than pleading the cause of his client in court or rendering services to him; the lawyer must be a bearer of light; he should be a leader in character and in learning, especially in view of the high expectations of members of society.

Udemezue, Sylvester, An Appraisal of Professional Legal Ethics and Proper Conduct for Lawyers In Nigeria (December 20, 2020).

Legal Skills: Making a Real Change in Nigerian Legal Education


The hallmark of legal education is the transfer and acquisition of knowledge of legal theories and skills. The purpose of this chapter is to examine those legal skills that are crucial to both the study and practice of law. This chapter argues that legal education in Nigeria is confronted with a crisis that can be attributed to the non-teaching of functional legal skills to initiates of the legal profession, on the assumption that such skills would naturally be learned by law students on entering the legal profession. It calls for a transformational change in the teaching approach in Nigerian legal education, from the present asymmetric approach of teaching law to one that is integrative and comprehensive in nature and capable of producing functional lawyers.

Solomon, Ekokoi, Legal Skills: Making a Real Change in Nigerian Legal Education (February 3, 2020). Legal pedagogy,

Read the full article on SSRN.

Current Day Realities of Legal Education in Nigeria: Challenges, Prospects and Productive Way Forward


“We need to raise the standard of legal education in Nigeria. The standard is too poor and too weak, and we see it in the quality of lawyers that come to our chambers”.

The above were the words of the former chair of the NBA while describing the pitiable state of legal education in Nigeria which is clearly on its death throes. It is saddening that the framework for legal education in the country which has served the country for over five decades appears to be gasping for its last breath. The challenges bedeviling legal education in Nigeria, resulting in the low quality we now have, are multifarious. However, these challenges are not without practical solutions. Thus, against the foregoing backdrop, this paper examines the current day reality of the state of legal education in Nigeria; prospects, challenges and productive way forward for legal education in the country.

Disu, Damilare, Current Day Realities of Legal Education in Nigeria: Challenges, Prospects and Productive Way Forward (February 9, 2020).

Available from the SSRN

Former Nigerian Bar President states Body of Benchers is ill-equipped to regulate legal profession

The immediate past President of the Nigerian Bar Association, A. B Mahmoud, SAN, has said the Body of Benchers was ill-equipped to regulate the affairs of the legal profession. The body, which comprises of lawyers and judges is put in place to regulate the education of aspirants to the bar and consequently admits lawyers who successfully pass their bar final exams into the Nigeria bar. Mahmoud added that legal education regulation was dysfunctional. According to him: “The Council of Legal Education (CLE) is not a functioning body. It’s a very dysfunctional body”. He, however, regretted that the situation had led to the churning out of half-baked lawyers, resulting in loss of confidence in the legal profession. He faulted the Body of Benchers, which admits lawyers to the Bar, over its operational methods. The NBA president spoke at a session on “NBA reforms agenda” during the association’s Annual General Conference in Abuja.

Read the Full Article Here

Update on legal and regulatory reforms in Nigeria

Back in September 2017 we reported on the Nigerian Bar Association’s legal and regulatory reform objectives.  Since then a number of initiatives have been undertaken.  The NBA President, Abubakar Balarabe Mahmoud, recently attended a meeting with the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN) and presented them with a number of documents for review:

  • An executive summary of the Nigerian Bar Association’s reform initiatives, which explains the context for NBA reforms, provides an overview of the current state of the Nigerian Legal Profession, and elaborates on the NBA Reform Strategy.  The Reform Strategy focuses on the promotion of reforms in four crucial areas: the regulation of the legal profession, representation of NBA members, re-engineering of the NBA’s administrative structure, and in public interest interventions by the Nigerian Bar.
  • A review of the NBA’s Corporate Governance and Financial Control Processes undertaken by KPMG Advisory Services.
  • A Report and draft Legal Profession Regulation Bill 2017 produced by the NBA Legal Profession Regulatory Review Committee (LPRRC)

The presentation was well received by BOSAN members, who endorsed the Review of the Corporate Governance and Financial Control Processes of the Nigerian Bar Association, and urged the President to ensure that the recommendations proposed by KPMG in its report were implemented before the completion of the tenure of the current NBA administration. The Body also set up a Committee, which is mandated to review the draft Legal Profession Regulation Bill and forward its recommendations on the Bill to the NBA for its harmonisation into the final draft Bill.


Potential legal and regulatory reform in Nigeria?

We are delighted that the Nigerian Bar Association has expressed interest in the ICLR network and will be sending representation to the Singapore conference. Although the NBA is only responsible for part of the system of regulating lawyers at present, it has taken a leadership role in promoting the adoption of a major overhaul of the entire system, the details of which will be available shortly. The NBA’s regulatory reform committee has been driven in its work by the desire to raise standards in the profession. It is proposing to do so by clarifying the roles and responsibilities of regulatory structures, streamlining them as necessary, providing greater separation of regulatory and representational interests, promoting the involvement of lay interests and update the ethical framework for today’s Nigerian lawyer. President AB Mahmoud’s address sets out the high level vision that underlies this initiative

The following is an extract from the welcome address by the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Abubakar Balarabe Mahmoud (SAN), at the opening ceremony of the annual general conference of the Nigerian Bar Association in Lagos, 20 August 2017.  We are grateful to the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) for allowing us to publish this extract which highlights the recent work undertaken by the NBA to review the legal and regulatory framework which governs Nigeria’s legal profession.

“Your Excellency, my lords, distinguished colleagues, the legal profession in Nigeria cannot be a champion of institution building or transformation, unless and until it reinvents itself. Indeed many will argue that the legal profession and more broadly the legal order must be the first candidate for reforms. As a friend recently euphemistically said to me, the legal order, or more directly the judicial system, in any country is like the operating system on a device. Once it is corrupted or it breaks down, no other application will operate successfully and the device may ultimately shut down.
It is in recognition of this that we have embarked on a number of initiatives. One of such major initiative was to begin a process of complete review of the legal and regulatory framework for the Nigeria Legal Profession. In December 2016, I inaugurated a high powered panel under the leadership of Chief Anthony Idigbe SAN, a very seasoned and highly accomplished lawyer supported by 21 equally brilliant lawyers and academics supported by some of our brightest young lawyers to undertake a holistic review of the regulatory objectives and regulatory architecture of the Nigerian Legal Profession. The panel was to consider what needs to be done to modernise the legal profession and prepare it to service a modern growing economy. I am happy to report that the committee has completed its assignment and submitted a report which we have currently exposed and are taking feedback from our members and other stakeholders. This report contains far reaching recommendations that aim to propel the Nigerian legal profession into a completely new era. It is accompanied with a complete draft new Bill that deals with legal education, the regulation of law firms, professional discipline, the role of the Body of Benchers. It also seeks to introduce paid pupillage as a prerequisite for entry into the profession. The overall objective is to raise the entry requirements into the profession, raise the quality and standards of the bar, to provide for more rigorous regulation of law firms, instil a more effective disciplinary process and provide for effective and well supervised continuing professional development. I want to emphasise that the report is still work in progress and it will ultimately be a proposal from the NBA for which we seek stakeholder buy-in.”


80% of major jurisdictions use central qualifying assessment

In an international benchmarking exercise, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) in England and Wales finds that almost 80% of the jurisdictions surveyed have a common assessment as part of lawyer qualification.

Press release on SRA website

Report on SRA website