‘Law School was one of my toughest experiences’

Ruth  Morenike Oluwadare is a lady of many parts: Lawyer, actress, dancer and photographer. The 2016 University of Manchester alumni tells ROBERT EGBE how she coped with the challenges of the Nigerian Law School after spending her entire life in the United Kingdom (UK).

Creative, performance artiste

My name is Ruth Morenike Oluwadare. I am the only girl in my family of six – three brothers and my parents. I am from Obokun, Osun State.

I went to Sherwood Park Primary School, Townley Grammar School for Girls for my General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSEs) and Tonbridge Grammar School for my A Levels, all in Kent, England. I have always been interested in the creative and performing arts. I joined a performing arts school called ‘StageCoach’ and from there, I landed a short acting role on a TV show called ’The Royal’. I was involved in so many dance and drama productions/competitions with my secondary school. I even decided to study an extra AS level in Photography all to make sure that I maintained my creative flare!

Family’s first lawyer

I attended the University of Manchester where I studied Law with Politics and graduated in 2016. I then went on to complete the Legal Practitioners Course at the College of Law and graduated in 2017. Finally, I studied at the Lagos Campus of NLS and was called to bar in 2018. I am the first in my immediate family to become a lawyer. I do however have some close relatives, all uncles, who are lawyers in Nigeria.

Choice of Law

Personally, my choice to study Law with Politics was largely influenced by my interest in the way society is governed by law and moulded by politics. It was important for me to fully understand these disciplines exclusively as well as in the context of each other as I do not think either can exist without the other. Whilst my degree was very engaging and fulfilling, if given the opportunity to study something else, it would definitely be Psychology with some Sociology modules!

Hard to keep up with Law School demands

Law School was one of the hardest things I have ever completed particularly because it was my first experience of ’Nigerian education’. I also think that it was and is so hard keeping up with the reading demands of Law School, however, I dealt with the workload by aligning my reading with the objectives of the lectures and that worked out for me as I was able to pass Law School with a decent grade! I feel like you are able to find time for recreation if you plan yourself well, I certainly was able to.

(After Call to Bar) I had a small get together on Christmas Day with some family and friends which was really lovely!

‘I’m more focused on experience than money’

I had to realise, very quickly, that law is not the profession to get into if making money is the sole motivation. Even the lawyers of the firms that pay ‘well’ still have the same dissatisfaction, to a certain extent, about remuneration. Bearing this in mind, I have focused on ensuring that the firm I work for gives me value for my effort with regards to experience, exposure and professional development to compensate for the remuneration.

Marrying a lawyer?

For me, the occupation is irrelevant in who I marry, there are so many more important factors like intelligence and drive. That said, it’s absolutely fundamental for me that my husband is a supportive partner who sees me as his equal.

What I would change about the legal profession

It is widely understood that the study of law is very different to the practice of law. I think it could be a good idea to give young lawyers a structured training programme pre-approved by some of the professions most revered lawyers or the Council of Legal Education. This programme would give lawyers the opportunity to select areas of law to train in over a period of time. During that period, there should be multiple opportunities to network across the profession and country aside from the annual Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Conference. I think such a programme could really increase the standard of Nigerian lawyers.

Another change I would like to witness in the legal profession is the increased independence of the judiciary. Independence is essential to the sanctity of the profession, to our international reputation and fair dispensation of justice.

Read Also: Female lawyers fault Senate’s rejection of Gender Bill

 

Mentors

The Partners in my firm, Mr. Charles Adeogun-Phillips, Mr. Akinsanya and Mr Uduje, are people I look up to because they are dual qualified lawyers, which is something I’d like to achieve in the near future. Further they have worked incredibly hard to get to their level and this poses a constant reminder to me that hard work and consistency can yield success.

SAN, Professor or a Judge?

I think I am more drawn to being a professor. I really like the thought of contributing to academic discussions on the law at the same time as helping, inspiring and teaching those who are willing to learn. That said, as I get further into this profession and more confident about my ability and interests, this may change. I am therefore not completely ruling out the possibility of becoming a Judge or SAN.

The future

I am an ambitious person with a lot of dreams so, every now and then, different visions come to mind. The commonality in those dreams and visions is that I become a successful lawyer that has made an impact in this profession.

My plans for the future are two-fold. Firstly, in relation to my career, there are several areas of law that have piqued my interest which include intellectual property, matrimonial causes and sexual offences. There isn’t necessarily a rhyme to these areas but the best thing about the fused profession in Nigeria is that I will be able to explore diverse areas of law during my junior years at the Bar.

Secondly, as a result of my experience working with a social enterprise in the UK called Women in the City ACS Network (WCAN), I would really love to start an affinity group dedicated to the uplift of female lawyers in Nigeria. More to the point, I hope that on establishing this group, we would be able to: work with existing domestic abuse organisations in combatting domestic violence against men and women; provide advice to women seeking divorce and provide pro bono services on matters concerning sexual offences against young children and women.

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