Tit Bits From Prof. Akin Oyebode: As Optimistic as a Professor Practicing His Vocation

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    Tit Bits From Prof. Akin Oyebode: As Optimistic as a Professor Practicing His Vocation
    Prof- Akin Oyebode

    “Standard and quality of lawyers produced in recent times have fallen” The only person that does not share the above assertion is the Prof. He sees it from a very different but interesting angle which makes us believe that a teacher never gives up on his student. Indeed teaching is a vocation.

    Prof. responds to the notion that quality of lawyers have fallen thus:

    It is difficult to force the genie inside the bottle. But I must say that it might be an over exaggeration to say that the quality of lawyers today is inferior to what lawyers used to be. Students of today are more widely exposed. They browse the internet; they are better prepared for legal education than lawyers of say, 20 years ago. What might have given the impression that today’s lawyers are not as well prepared as the previous generation is the explosion in numbers. When I joined UNILAG 44 years ago, we had tutorials. That was where we got to know students better and they were about 16 maximum for each lecturer.  I remember I would put out the readings and the questions on the door for them to go to the library to research and then come for tutorials. During tutorials we discuss intensively and intensely and it was a weekly affair outside the normal lectures. It was at the tutorial level that the nitty gritty work is done. We do not have that anymore because we do not have facilities to provide such opportunity for over 300 students. Attempting a tutorial now would be a joke.

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    Again the students then showed more commitment because there was competition among them but generally on this campus what you find is either students brandishing their sexuality or all sorts of rascality. No serious minded pursuit of excellence. That doesn’t speak just for law students. It speaks for everyone.  Another influence is social media. They write exams now with text message language. We tried to introduce legal research and writing so students can know how to do research but this has not gone a long way because of lack of commitment on the part of the students.

    I do not practice but I have had that complain too. One of my former students said to me he cannot employ any graduate from UNILAG from the last 10 years, I said but you went to UNILAG and he said yes but he won’t hire them. I asked why and he said they are just not “it” I said what is the “it” you are talking about? These are people who are exposed and they bring the exposure to bear on acquisition of knowledge. I did not know the jury is still out on that issue as to whether today’s lawyers are inferior to the lawyers of those generations.  But I would say this; it is still from these young lawyers that they are getting their SANs. If you say they are not doing well and every year they are still given those accolades. Then they must be getting certain things right. Also, students are a bit younger now. My wife was reminding me earlier today that our son graduated at 23. My student who is Justice of the Court of Appeal now, graduated at 20. In fact her son has just been made SAN she was in my class and she is still hot. In practice if you see the ones who are very good, the one Yoruba people call “Akoni niwaju Adajo” you would know, just like students they give the nick name “Prof”. so the beauty of the profession is that it is an open ring. There is nowhere to hide so you take the jabs.

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    I don’t know about the quality people are talking about. People still finish here and go to the best universities in the world and excel. I still write references, I speak of UNILAG. I had a student here who made a first class, he went to Oxford and now he is going to my school in Toronto for his doctorate.  They can compete anywhere favourably. It means that we are getting something right. So do not let us throw the baby with the bathe water. The young people are strong but they are more in number so it is difficult for them to excel to be seen. The advantage the older ones had was paucity of numbers. When I joined the university in 1973, during tutorial because they are fewer we could interact better. That may have impacted the quality of learning but in terms of capabilities and capacity; I think these students can give anyone a fight if push comes to shove. Yes I do not underrate these young people. They are the judges, my former student are in the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, High Courts and Magistrate Courts. They went to the same school and read same books and were taught by the same lecturers.

    For the lecturers, you might say some lecturers are not up to date but not in a fine class. Because these students would do their home works before coming to lecture and when the lecturer talks nonsense somebody would challenge him. When I was teaching people like Taiwo Osipitan SAN 100 level, he gave us hell in legal system. Taiwo wrestles with lecturers and I said then that this boy will go places. At 100 level when you should be fearful of lecturers. So we should not just make general blanket statement. Standards are falling, measured against what?

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    Read the full interview here

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