10 tips to survive the Kenya School of Law

10 tips to survive the Kenya School of Law

Congratulations, you made it to the Kenya School of Law! You are now a step closer to achieving your dreams (whether law-related or not). I am sure by now you have heard all the horror stories about KSL and the bar exam. I am sorry to let you know that most of them are true.

Nonetheless, here you are. The duration of your stay will be determined by how you treat these 9 months of school. The good news is this path has been walked by many before you and through this blog, we plan to pass on all that we wish we knew as we took our first steps.

1. Avoid falling in love

If you’re lucky to stay in Rongai as most KSL students do, have sex as often as possible. That opportunity will never come again. If the ladies are disinterested use that old, time-tested trick: just ply them with alcohol. But avoid falling in love or showing romance at all costs, but you can fake it though.

Love and romance are a waste of time and feelings as you prepare for your bar exams, and they will just cloud your judgment. To make it through KSL you need a sharp, clear mind.

Guys, if you don’t tap it somebody else will. Ladies, remember something called contraception. If you’re in doubt, just wait till around June. You’ll see so many pregnant ladies around KSL, you’ll think KSL has opened a prenatal class or something.

2. Don’t listen to the losers, mediocrity is contagious:

Don’t listen to the losers who say “KSL fails its students” or “that the CLE does not mark scripts, they just dish marks at random even if it’s possibly true that they do that.

Ignore the naysayers. Instead, think of how you can be among the few who pass all 9 units in their first sitting (usually only about 20% of the students).

3. Have a spine, avoid intimidation :

You’ll meet those guys who went to I don’t know CUEA who’ll brag about their library at CUEA which had a lift, a fountain, and a restaurant inside. The guys from CUEA might also brag about their 1st class degrees. CUEA had like twelve 1st classes in law last year, yaani since when were 1st class degrees dished out en masse like cheap mutumba underwear?

Then again, many guys from The University of Nairobi (UON) are too brash, they’ll brag that they were taught by professors and you weren’t? ( & UON guys are often the loudest in class discussions though they make little sense). Ignore the little buggers. In fact, at UON’s Law school they sit on desks sometimes because of lack of chairs.

Others who studied in South Africa or The U.K. might also give the impression that Kenyan degrees are sub-standard. If they brag don’t be impressed.

Ladies, if you’re from the village don’t be intimidated by ladies with phony accents or fake eyelashes and hair, or anyone showing off their parent’s car.

Don’t be bothered that you went to Inoorero or Mount Kenya University (MKU) where on the ground floor they sell shoes and 1st floor they have lecture halls (some guys from MKU are actually quite bright but they’re too quiet and intimidated by the empty debes from UON).

It’s not a big deal that you studied in some remote university in India, or Moi University or Kabarak.

If you’re intimidated even one bit, you’re done. I promise you.

4. Step up, don’t hide in the dark :

You must have seen those loner types, who sit quietly at the back or spend all the time alone. Most don’t make it far, when shit hits the fan they crack real quick. You ought to make new friends at KSL and keep them close, and don’t forget the old ones.

Participate in class and Moot contests in 2nd term. Don’t say you’re too busy to moot, or that it’s not your thing. They give certificates during moot contests. As you hunt for pupilage such certificates will make you stand out from the herd. If you’re familiar with lecturers you’ll get a reference for your C.V. or they might refer you to some career opportunity. Be a teacher's pet if you have to. Those advocates in top-tier firms didn’t get where they are because of their smarts, but rather because of knowing which asses to kiss.

Also, start looking for pupilage early. Most firms are open to applications by June. If you start looking for pupilage in October you’ll find it tough.

5. Try liking fellow firm members even if they’re idiots:

Project work in firms is equivalent to being forcibly married to a stranger you hate but whom you can’t leave.

It’s as if KSL conspires to put the most incompatible guys together in firms. Someone is supposed to present but they forgot their flash-disk, another is busy going out on dates.

You’ll work closely with these strangers till around August. Please try and like them as unlikeable as they might be.

If you let your differences get to you, your coursework score might suffer.

Be careful who you choose as a Firm leader, try getting someone mature. Don’t let just anyone be a firm leader.

6. Don’t be a sitting duck, prepare early:

Ever heard of oral exams? Apparently, it’s got nothing to do with oral sex. Remember that July really isn’t far away, the day comes really fast. Don’t start preparing in June, start now.

If you’re not ready, those exams will come falling on you like a ton of bricks. Brush up on old facts and get the oral sample questions from past years (but also think outside those questions since they test practical applications). Learn to be audible and develop confidence early.

Get the course outlines, past papers, and old notes in soft copy as early as now. But don’t just have them, use them. Don’t wait till October to start reading the past papers.

7. Be punctual:

It seems obvious but it’s not. Even if you hate the lecturer’s guts (as you most likely will), just attend the bloody classes. These lecturers have experience and know what is set in the exam and might give hints, even subconsciously.

8. Be organized, KSL will throw a lot your way:

Keep a diary to organize project work, assignments, and assigned readings. Towards the middle of the second term, many guys reach their cracking point. Don’t be one of them.

Relax, pray if you’re religious, smoke sheesha, whatever that helps you calm down. The deadlines for the projects become too many around June. At this point, many people give in even before the November exams.

Don’t let stuff pile up. Devote about 2 hours daily to read. The alternative is to start 3 weeks before the exam at which point you’ll have like 400 pages of slides per unit and numerous cases to read. If you’re given some case law to read, read it before you forget.

Personalize your notes. Don’t just photocopy notes blindly. Use such notes to make summaries of your own.

9. Don’t let work distract you: Most people who work part-time sometimes fail to give enough attention to classes. If working organize yourself properly or you’ll regret it in the end.

10. Network silly: As a tactical maneuver be friendly even with those you despise. Interact with them and build networks. (Real interaction, not the Fb and Twitter crap).

Fake charm, warmth, and interest. Think long term, who knows? In the future, you might be co-partners in a huge firm with those guys you find insufferable. Build friendships step by step, don’t be a phony.

One last word. The challenge in KSL is hardly about difficult topics, the challenge is in maintaining one’s cool under immense pressure. Now go!

Geoffrey Nevine — IT Services and IT Consulting

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