‘Boosting lawyers, firms’ global rating, certification’
An interview conducted by Ngozi Egenuka of The Guardian Newspaper
The International Business Development Manager of Barbri Global, Monique Morrison and the Chief Executive Officer, Centre for Law and Business (CLB), Dapo Oyewumi, in this joint interview with NGOZI EGENUKA, explained that the partnership between the two bodies is aimed at exposing great professional opportunities that exist in Britain and America for Nigerian lawyers and would-be lawyers.
Firstly, what is your view about law practice in Africa?
When you look at Africa, you look at Nigeria from its obvious size, exposure and international awareness. Africa has a very unique and special position and a large number of lawyers, who are very exposed and learned using the common law system, which is applicable in 60 per cent of the world. That means Nigerian lawyers are part of that per cent, which puts us in a position to be able to offer services to 60 per cent of the world. This would be further enhanced by this qualification programme, which would make one a truly global lawyer. So, you have your primary jurisdiction, where you were called to the bar and these other ones, which allows you practice or offer services across at least 60 per cent of the countries. I think Nigerian lawyers have done very well and even historically, Nigerian lawyers practicing in Britain are doing well. We have lawyers that transcend both jurisdictions. Even right now, there are various areas including arbitration, where Nigerian Lawyers are doing very well.
What’s the aim of your partnership and of what importance is it to lawyers?
Barbri Global is one of the largest Bar preparation course providers, whose programmes have opened doors for more law and non-law graduates to become qualified professionals.
It’s designed for candidates to become attorneys at law in America or solicitors in England. The programmes are designed to prepare candidates for those exams they would take to qualify. Our partnership is based on ensuring that these opportunities are available to all West African students, predominantly Nigerians in a more affordable and efficient way.
Does this process eliminate the traditional way of having such qualifications?
Yes. The Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) has replaced the traditional route to practice as a solicitor. The traditional route is the LLB in the legal practice course. Presently, students don’t need to engage with those courses because lawyers can now do things in a much more streamlined process. They don’t have to study for five years. They can study for less, as their previous qualifications are now recognised, whereas before they were not. Also, their work experience is now recognised, unlike before. So, a lot more doors to opportunities have been opened via this new route.
How long has Barbri Global been in existence?
We were founded in 1967, so we have been around for 55 years.
Would you say lawyers take advantage of international study opportunities as much as other professionals?
Yes, a lot of lawyers leave because sometimes, they get to a point in their local law firms that they can’t reach that partnership status they desire and a lot of American and British firms are capitalising on that to take them away from the local law firms. Also, local law firms that have been sending their trainees abroad to qualify are finding that they are not coming home and giving back to their local society. So, that’s where Barbri Global and CLB come in because we are helping law firms keep a hold on their real assets and at the same time, encouraging those local law firms to develop their inhouse lawyers and ensure that they improve on their professional development without the risk of losing them.
What informed the firms’ decision to launch in Nigeria?
For many reasons! The calibre of lawyers you find in Nigeria is second to none and there is no other country that comes close to that. So, when I came into the company, my primary focus, looking at international partners, was Nigeria as the most premium and highest quality provider. That’s where CLB comes in because it meets all of those requirements too. Barbri Global needed a body that is internationally recognised, that has a lot of experience to deliver international law and CLB was found worthy because it has been doing that for a while.
What’s the nature of the legal education programme?
The SQE 1 is the undergraduate stage and it replaces the Bachelor of Law Degree (LLB). In England, it costs about £30,000 to get LLB and about £17,000 for a legal practice course, but enrolling in our programme, the most you will spend is £10,000 for an international student. SQE 1 is £3000 SQE 2 is £3499, exam fees are about 4000.
The cost of our programme for the U.S. bar, whether for six months or 10 months is $6,000 and there are scholarships, installment payments and reward plans.
SQE 1 is completely virtual, but for SQE 2, the student has to travel to take the exam, which is for just two days.
For the exams, you need a tourist visa because you are only required to attend for two days so you don’t need to worry about student visas. Some Nigerians are concerned about tourist visas but as long as you have our programme and your eligibility confirmed at the state bar association, you will easily get a tourist visa.
Read the full interview on The Guardian