Listen up first years! My name is Rob and I got some stuff to something to say!
First off, Orientation.
Why is it important?
Since my final term of high school, I always had this passion to pursue a career in law. But my idea of what the law experience would be like was fueled by what I saw on TV. You know, nice clothes, smooth talk, pacing and banging on desks.-that sort of jazz.
After my session of orientation at Unilus, I had a better understanding of how the law actually works in real life. Orientation helped me to map out the road ahead. It shed light on:
- Who a lawyer is;
- The level of commitment that would be expected of me for the next four years for me to end up with that LLB and become a lawyer.
- The right motive for becoming a lawyer.
My law school experience
My 4 years as an undergrad can’t be described with just one word because it involved so many highlights with their own set of uniqueness. I’ll try to break it down though.
The most challenging time as an undergraduate for me would probably be my 1ST year, 1st semester. The transition from a high school to University was quite overwhelming. Even orientation didn’t prepare me for how to manage my time and how to split my work load. Fortunately, I shook off the the anxiety during my final phase of that semester.I did this by taking advantage of the new opportunities life presented me such as moot, sport, and being the class representative.
My newly gained confidence helped curb all the other demands of university life.
I can neither single out one moment in time as being the most memorable nor can I list them all. However, the top two would be my 2nd year 1st semester and my 4th year.
It was during 2nd year 1st semester that I was selected to be part of the team that would represent the university at the first ever inter-varsity moot court competition to be held at the Supreme Court. My team and I went up against the formidable University of Zambia (UNZA) team. Our hard work surely paid off as we reigned triumph over our opponents. Personally (and I am sure anyone from my team would agree with me) this was a great milestone and going on to win it against a UNZA side (which I must say gave us quite a run and made us work hard for our victory). Being afforded practical and first-hand court room litigation was certainly a privilege I cannot forget.
This experience of course also resulted in our status being boosted to that of the “coolest law students” on campus.
In my fourth and final year I was an active member of the university basketball team. My team and I went on to win the annual inter-varsity sports games where we represented Zambia in the African Universities Sports competition, held in Johannesburg, South Africa. Despite failing to get to the finals, the exposure and experience that I shared with my teammates was more than worthwhile.
Post-graduation (Welcome to the Real World)
Graduating from law school and finally ending my time as an undergraduate student really got me ecstatic for the journey ahead and next phase in life. I felt that I was ready to take on the world, oozing with confidence, and “bed rocked” on the knowledge acquired in the past 4 years, I believed I was surely ready to apply myself in society as a man of the law.
I should tell you that I didn’t get a job instantly but when I did, I got a good bite of criminal and corporate law.
A Run with Criminal law
My first ever interaction with the law in the real word was when I served as a volunteer (later turned junior intern) at a Ngo called Undikumbukire Project (UP) Zambia. This organisation in conjunction with the German government instituted a project known as Juveniles for Justice ‘JFJ’, with an objective of providing advocacy aid and social support, to juveniles that came into conflict with the law.
I must admit that during this time, my application of the law to the various legal issues wasn’t like anything I had been taught at school. It was only during my time as an intern that I was exposed to a plethora of court room acts or omissions which consequently hinder effective administration of justice.
Acts like excessive adjournments by the courts on a particular case stall proceedings and delay justice. This is problematic especially in cases relating to non-bailable offences. As a result, accused persons experience unjustified punishment through detention at a correctional facilities which is practically at odds with the ethos of constitutional ‘innocent until proven guilty’.
Omissions like the procedural requirements under the law for certain cases also result in injustices.For instance, in juvenile cases, it is required under the Juveniles Act that parents or guardians of the juvenile must be present at all stages of proceedings. However, in practice I got to witness some court sessions where this got dispensed with.
A Run with Corporate Law
I am currently working as a tax advisory assistant. Tax advisory is mostly routine work which involves giving advise based on taxation. By virtue of me being a lawyer, the advice must be from a legal perspective. I do this pretty well, if I do say so myself!
My job also calls on investment and company law, which I was privileged to also take up as a course as a student.
When I made the switch from criminal law to corporate, it was quite a challenge. I had invested a lot of time in criminal proceedings and litigation. Thus, the early stages, it was quite a big ask of myself to leave my newly acquired comfort zone and choose a field such as taxation law, which I must confess is highly technical.
At present, I feel comfortable enough in my new role to consider specializing in Tax law in future. I should make mention that I owe it to UNILUS School of law for the chance to study tax law at undergraduate level.
The knowledge bestowed upon as a student certainly came to my aid and I still use some of in my application to various issues arising in my field of tax advisory.
The first time I met my current employers, I got asked why the switch from criminal to corporate? My response which by the way I have maintained to anyone else who gets to ask me is simply, “Why not?”
Criminal v Corporate
Based on my personal experience, corporate matters are given much more attention and esteem than criminal ones. As a result, even, the matters tend to be presided over and concluded much quicker.
Based on this I can safely conclude that currently, monetary standing outweighs moral code calling for the delivery of effective justice, under the Zambian legal system.
I am still a young man; full of enthusiasm and my passion for the law has not changed a single bit. I believe I owe a duty to myself to get acquainted with various dimensions of the body of the law. You should too.
Thanks for your time!
Robert Makanta Siulapwa