University of Miami International and Comparative Law Review


The two-tier legal education system has become increasingly ineffective by virtue of the evolution of changes in legal practice and Africa’s unique conditions and circumstances. The problem is rooted in the fact that some African countries adopted the two-tier legal education system on the assumption that what worked in Britain offered a prescription for success in Africa. However, the two-tier legal education system has been ineffective in Africa because the infrastructure—pupilage, apprenticeship, continuing legal education—that complements and anneals it is not widely available in Africa. Where these elements exist, they tend to be frail and unreliable. Africa’s urgent challenge is to design an appropriate legal education structure that helps lawyers develop the highest possible degree of capability to respond effectively and resourcefully to Africa’s problems. It is time for Africa to address a fundamental question well phrased by Samuel Manteaw, a Ghanaian scholar: “What type of lawyer does Africa need? And do these [educational] institutions produce the type of lawyer Africa needs?”1 Using Nigeria as a case study, this paper examines the two-tier system of legal education in Africa. It examines the implications and assumptions of the two-tier system and its negative effects on legal education. It proposes a constructive alternative that abolishes the two-tier system and vests the teaching of doctrinal and skill courses in the law faculties of universities. This paper argues that the two-tier legal education system imperils legal training by the arbitrary division between doctrinal and skills courses and teaching them separately at different institutions. As it presently exists in Nigeria, the two-tier system requires fundamental structural and institutional reform to create a better pathway to producing competent lawyers who can respond responsibly and effectively to society’s needs and challenges. A comprehensive legal education offered through law faculties will powerfully enrich legal education and improve the caliber of training received by lawyers in Nigeria.