Academia Kenneth Okwor

Please note that all opinions expressed in this interview are the opinions of the lawyer interviewed. They do not necessarily represent the opinion of their employer or of Legally Engaged.

Private Equity (PE) is smart money deployed by investment management companies (usually PE firms) on behalf of themselves and other investors (e.g. pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, High Net-worth Individuals etc.) to invest in businesses and help such businesses grow. After a few years, the fund’s stake in the business is sold.

The most common ways a company raises money for expansion are either through loans or by listing its shares on an exchange. Private equity money isn’t made available publicly, but by investors who invest on behalf of themselves and other institutional investors in control for a stake in the business. They are also involved in the governance of the company (usually by taking up seats on the board) for the duration of their investment. This is why I call it smart money

A PE lawyer is usually involved in structuring and negotiating transactions such as buyouts, mergers and acquisitions (M&A), joint ventures, restructurings, divestitures etc. as well as drafting the requisite documentation required to close those transactions.

Apart from providing email responses to client’s questions on Nigerian law issues with regard to the transactions, I regularly take part in drafting, reviewing, negotiating and issuing comments on various agreements such as Investment Agreements, Share Subscription Agreements, Share Sale and Purchase Agreements, as well as Shareholders’ Agreements.

I also conduct due diligence investigations on target companies, i.e. companies that are sought to be acquired by organizations such as PE firms. The due diligence documents are usually uploaded to a virtual data room (i.e. an online site) for review, but there are occasions where the investigations may require visiting the target company’s offices to review hard copies of documents to verify the information provided.

My decision to study law was greatly influenced by my mother, who is an accomplished lawyer herself.  In my younger years, whenever I got into ‘trouble’, my mom was the one to go to – I was inspired by how she was always able to argue her way out of a variety of situations and thus aspired to be like that.

After choosing to study law, I wasn’t provided with much guidance on how to navigate through my career.  My mother suggested that I become a civil servant, but I didn’t fancy it because it didn’t seem ambitious enough.

I am delighted that I ended up becoming a corporate lawyer, considering that I was only advised to join the civil service.  It is a bit embarrassing but my decision to be a corporate lawyer was greatly influenced by a fictional character named Harvey Specter from a television series titled Suits.  I took a liking to the manner with which he closed deals and the confidence his clients reposed in him, so I considered it not bad to emulate him.  I didn’t have a plan at the beginning, but things sort of came through and I gradually leaned towards Private Equity and Corporate M&A once I started working at my current firm. Do I have any regrets? No

A young lawyer would need to be commercially aware.  Read the news and stay up to date with new laws, government policies, market statistics, the focus of investors and thriving industries, etc. Other soft skills like networking skills and the ability to build relationships are equally important because lawyers should always think of generating new business/clients and solidifying the existing ones.

I work mostly with global and local private equity investors, strategic buyers and sellers and other financial sponsors

It’s quite busy as expected, but nothing out of the ordinary – the typical level of work one would expect to face as a 5th-year lawyer. I work for 10 hours per day on average, but on some occasions (e.g. when a transaction is intense or about to close), then I may be required to for work longer hours (or even on weekends) to meet deadlines. I usually work as part of team, so everyone usually puts in their own bit, that way there’s not too much work left for only one person

The satisfaction on a client’s face, or the tone of their voice or email when you give them practical solutions that help solve their problems.  For me, there is nothing more rewarding than that.

Not quite.  There’s a lot of focus on theoretical (as opposed to practical) knowledge in the Law School and you find that it takes you about a minimum of 2 – 3 years of practice to really start to get a hang of things.  The Law School syllabus isn’t reflective of what truly obtains in the corporate legal world.

I’m just taking each day as it comes for now, but I don’t see myself leaving the practice of law.  I enjoy what I do.  It’s still early days in my career, so I’m making sure I garner as much experience as I can.  In the long term, I would like to be one of the go-to lawyers for corporate clients looking to do business/invest in Africa and, dare I say, maybe even the best African private equity lawyer that God ever created.

The most memorable thing that happened while working as a Private Equity Lawyer was receiving a cake and chocolate from a client after a deal closed.  It’s that memorable because it’s the only time that’s happened – and I enjoyed it

Take your career where you think it should go, not where others think it should go. Learn the trade and skills required for you be exceptional in this industry. Focus on building a long-lasting career instead of being fixated on obtaining immediate financial gratification.

legallyengagedAcademia Kenneth Okwor
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In house (Finance) – Ayokunle Ayoko

Please note that all opinions expressed in this interview are the opinions of the lawyer interviewed. They do not necessarily represent the opinion of their employer or of Legally Engaged.

Private Equity (PE) is smart money deployed by investment management companies (usually PE firms) on behalf of themselves and other investors (e.g. pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, High Net-worth Individuals etc.) to invest in businesses and help such businesses grow. After a few years, the fund’s stake in the business is sold.

The most common ways a company raises money for expansion are either through loans or by listing its shares on an exchange. Private equity money isn’t made available publicly, but by investors who invest on behalf of themselves and other institutional investors in control for a stake in the business. They are also involved in the governance of the company (usually by taking up seats on the board) for the duration of their investment. This is why I call it smart money

A PE lawyer is usually involved in structuring and negotiating transactions such as buyouts, mergers and acquisitions (M&A), joint ventures, restructurings, divestitures etc. as well as drafting the requisite documentation required to close those transactions.

Apart from providing email responses to client’s questions on Nigerian law issues with regard to the transactions, I regularly take part in drafting, reviewing, negotiating and issuing comments on various agreements such as Investment Agreements, Share Subscription Agreements, Share Sale and Purchase Agreements, as well as Shareholders’ Agreements.

I also conduct due diligence investigations on target companies, i.e. companies that are sought to be acquired by organizations such as PE firms. The due diligence documents are usually uploaded to a virtual data room (i.e. an online site) for review, but there are occasions where the investigations may require visiting the target company’s offices to review hard copies of documents to verify the information provided.

My decision to study law was greatly influenced by my mother, who is an accomplished lawyer herself.  In my younger years, whenever I got into ‘trouble’, my mom was the one to go to – I was inspired by how she was always able to argue her way out of a variety of situations and thus aspired to be like that.

After choosing to study law, I wasn’t provided with much guidance on how to navigate through my career.  My mother suggested that I become a civil servant, but I didn’t fancy it because it didn’t seem ambitious enough.

I am delighted that I ended up becoming a corporate lawyer, considering that I was only advised to join the civil service.  It is a bit embarrassing but my decision to be a corporate lawyer was greatly influenced by a fictional character named Harvey Specter from a television series titled Suits.  I took a liking to the manner with which he closed deals and the confidence his clients reposed in him, so I considered it not bad to emulate him.  I didn’t have a plan at the beginning, but things sort of came through and I gradually leaned towards Private Equity and Corporate M&A once I started working at my current firm. Do I have any regrets? No

A young lawyer would need to be commercially aware.  Read the news and stay up to date with new laws, government policies, market statistics, the focus of investors and thriving industries, etc. Other soft skills like networking skills and the ability to build relationships are equally important because lawyers should always think of generating new business/clients and solidifying the existing ones.

I work mostly with global and local private equity investors, strategic buyers and sellers and other financial sponsors

It’s quite busy as expected, but nothing out of the ordinary – the typical level of work one would expect to face as a 5th-year lawyer. I work for 10 hours per day on average, but on some occasions (e.g. when a transaction is intense or about to close), then I may be required to for work longer hours (or even on weekends) to meet deadlines. I usually work as part of team, so everyone usually puts in their own bit, that way there’s not too much work left for only one person

The satisfaction on a client’s face, or the tone of their voice or email when you give them practical solutions that help solve their problems.  For me, there is nothing more rewarding than that.

Not quite.  There’s a lot of focus on theoretical (as opposed to practical) knowledge in the Law School and you find that it takes you about a minimum of 2 – 3 years of practice to really start to get a hang of things.  The Law School syllabus isn’t reflective of what truly obtains in the corporate legal world.

I’m just taking each day as it comes for now, but I don’t see myself leaving the practice of law.  I enjoy what I do.  It’s still early days in my career, so I’m making sure I garner as much experience as I can.  In the long term, I would like to be one of the go-to lawyers for corporate clients looking to do business/invest in Africa and, dare I say, maybe even the best African private equity lawyer that God ever created.

The most memorable thing that happened while working as a Private Equity Lawyer was receiving a cake and chocolate from a client after a deal closed.  It’s that memorable because it’s the only time that’s happened – and I enjoyed it

Take your career where you think it should go, not where others think it should go. Learn the trade and skills required for you be exceptional in this industry. Focus on building a long-lasting career instead of being fixated on obtaining immediate financial gratification.

legallyengagedIn house (Finance) – Ayokunle Ayoko
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In house (Telecoms) – Bolu Ojewole

Please note that all opinions expressed in this interview are the opinions of the lawyer interviewed. They do not necessarily represent the opinion of their employer or of Legally Engaged.

Private Equity (PE) is smart money deployed by investment management companies (usually PE firms) on behalf of themselves and other investors (e.g. pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, High Net-worth Individuals etc.) to invest in businesses and help such businesses grow. After a few years, the fund’s stake in the business is sold.

The most common ways a company raises money for expansion are either through loans or by listing its shares on an exchange. Private equity money isn’t made available publicly, but by investors who invest on behalf of themselves and other institutional investors in control for a stake in the business. They are also involved in the governance of the company (usually by taking up seats on the board) for the duration of their investment. This is why I call it smart money

A PE lawyer is usually involved in structuring and negotiating transactions such as buyouts, mergers and acquisitions (M&A), joint ventures, restructurings, divestitures etc. as well as drafting the requisite documentation required to close those transactions.

Apart from providing email responses to client’s questions on Nigerian law issues with regard to the transactions, I regularly take part in drafting, reviewing, negotiating and issuing comments on various agreements such as Investment Agreements, Share Subscription Agreements, Share Sale and Purchase Agreements, as well as Shareholders’ Agreements.

I also conduct due diligence investigations on target companies, i.e. companies that are sought to be acquired by organizations such as PE firms. The due diligence documents are usually uploaded to a virtual data room (i.e. an online site) for review, but there are occasions where the investigations may require visiting the target company’s offices to review hard copies of documents to verify the information provided.

My decision to study law was greatly influenced by my mother, who is an accomplished lawyer herself.  In my younger years, whenever I got into ‘trouble’, my mom was the one to go to – I was inspired by how she was always able to argue her way out of a variety of situations and thus aspired to be like that.

After choosing to study law, I wasn’t provided with much guidance on how to navigate through my career.  My mother suggested that I become a civil servant, but I didn’t fancy it because it didn’t seem ambitious enough.

I am delighted that I ended up becoming a corporate lawyer, considering that I was only advised to join the civil service.  It is a bit embarrassing but my decision to be a corporate lawyer was greatly influenced by a fictional character named Harvey Specter from a television series titled Suits.  I took a liking to the manner with which he closed deals and the confidence his clients reposed in him, so I considered it not bad to emulate him.  I didn’t have a plan at the beginning, but things sort of came through and I gradually leaned towards Private Equity and Corporate M&A once I started working at my current firm. Do I have any regrets? No

A young lawyer would need to be commercially aware.  Read the news and stay up to date with new laws, government policies, market statistics, the focus of investors and thriving industries, etc. Other soft skills like networking skills and the ability to build relationships are equally important because lawyers should always think of generating new business/clients and solidifying the existing ones.

I work mostly with global and local private equity investors, strategic buyers and sellers and other financial sponsors

It’s quite busy as expected, but nothing out of the ordinary – the typical level of work one would expect to face as a 5th-year lawyer. I work for 10 hours per day on average, but on some occasions (e.g. when a transaction is intense or about to close), then I may be required to for work longer hours (or even on weekends) to meet deadlines. I usually work as part of team, so everyone usually puts in their own bit, that way there’s not too much work left for only one person

The satisfaction on a client’s face, or the tone of their voice or email when you give them practical solutions that help solve their problems.  For me, there is nothing more rewarding than that.

Not quite.  There’s a lot of focus on theoretical (as opposed to practical) knowledge in the Law School and you find that it takes you about a minimum of 2 – 3 years of practice to really start to get a hang of things.  The Law School syllabus isn’t reflective of what truly obtains in the corporate legal world.

I’m just taking each day as it comes for now, but I don’t see myself leaving the practice of law.  I enjoy what I do.  It’s still early days in my career, so I’m making sure I garner as much experience as I can.  In the long term, I would like to be one of the go-to lawyers for corporate clients looking to do business/invest in Africa and, dare I say, maybe even the best African private equity lawyer that God ever created.

The most memorable thing that happened while working as a Private Equity Lawyer was receiving a cake and chocolate from a client after a deal closed.  It’s that memorable because it’s the only time that’s happened – and I enjoyed it

Take your career where you think it should go, not where others think it should go. Learn the trade and skills required for you be exceptional in this industry. Focus on building a long-lasting career instead of being fixated on obtaining immediate financial gratification.

legallyengagedIn house (Telecoms) – Bolu Ojewole
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Private Equity Law Practice Interview with Edidem Basiekanem

Please note that all opinions expressed in this interview are the opinions of the lawyer interviewed. They do not necessarily represent the opinion of their employer or of Legally Engaged.

Private Equity (PE) is smart money deployed by investment management companies (usually PE firms) on behalf of themselves and other investors (e.g. pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, High Net-worth Individuals etc.) to invest in businesses and help such businesses grow. After a few years, the fund’s stake in the business is sold.

The most common ways a company raises money for expansion are either through loans or by listing its shares on an exchange. Private equity money isn’t made available publicly, but by investors who invest on behalf of themselves and other institutional investors in control for a stake in the business. They are also involved in the governance of the company (usually by taking up seats on the board) for the duration of their investment. This is why I call it smart money

A PE lawyer is usually involved in structuring and negotiating transactions such as buyouts, mergers and acquisitions (M&A), joint ventures, restructurings, divestitures etc. as well as drafting the requisite documentation required to close those transactions.

Apart from providing email responses to client’s questions on Nigerian law issues with regard to the transactions, I regularly take part in drafting, reviewing, negotiating and issuing comments on various agreements such as Investment Agreements, Share Subscription Agreements, Share Sale and Purchase Agreements, as well as Shareholders’ Agreements.

I also conduct due diligence investigations on target companies, i.e. companies that are sought to be acquired by organizations such as PE firms. The due diligence documents are usually uploaded to a virtual data room (i.e. an online site) for review, but there are occasions where the investigations may require visiting the target company’s offices to review hard copies of documents to verify the information provided.

My decision to study law was greatly influenced by my mother, who is an accomplished lawyer herself.  In my younger years, whenever I got into ‘trouble’, my mom was the one to go to – I was inspired by how she was always able to argue her way out of a variety of situations and thus aspired to be like that.

After choosing to study law, I wasn’t provided with much guidance on how to navigate through my career.  My mother suggested that I become a civil servant, but I didn’t fancy it because it didn’t seem ambitious enough.

I am delighted that I ended up becoming a corporate lawyer, considering that I was only advised to join the civil service.  It is a bit embarrassing but my decision to be a corporate lawyer was greatly influenced by a fictional character named Harvey Specter from a television series titled Suits.  I took a liking to the manner with which he closed deals and the confidence his clients reposed in him, so I considered it not bad to emulate him.  I didn’t have a plan at the beginning, but things sort of came through and I gradually leaned towards Private Equity and Corporate M&A once I started working at my current firm. Do I have any regrets? No

A young lawyer would need to be commercially aware.  Read the news and stay up to date with new laws, government policies, market statistics, the focus of investors and thriving industries, etc. Other soft skills like networking skills and the ability to build relationships are equally important because lawyers should always think of generating new business/clients and solidifying the existing ones.

I work mostly with global and local private equity investors, strategic buyers and sellers and other financial sponsors

It’s quite busy as expected, but nothing out of the ordinary – the typical level of work one would expect to face as a 5th-year lawyer. I work for 10 hours per day on average, but on some occasions (e.g. when a transaction is intense or about to close), then I may be required to for work longer hours (or even on weekends) to meet deadlines. I usually work as part of team, so everyone usually puts in their own bit, that way there’s not too much work left for only one person

The satisfaction on a client’s face, or the tone of their voice or email when you give them practical solutions that help solve their problems.  For me, there is nothing more rewarding than that.

Not quite.  There’s a lot of focus on theoretical (as opposed to practical) knowledge in the Law School and you find that it takes you about a minimum of 2 – 3 years of practice to really start to get a hang of things.  The Law School syllabus isn’t reflective of what truly obtains in the corporate legal world.

I’m just taking each day as it comes for now, but I don’t see myself leaving the practice of law.  I enjoy what I do.  It’s still early days in my career, so I’m making sure I garner as much experience as I can.  In the long term, I would like to be one of the go-to lawyers for corporate clients looking to do business/invest in Africa and, dare I say, maybe even the best African private equity lawyer that God ever created.

The most memorable thing that happened while working as a Private Equity Lawyer was receiving a cake and chocolate from a client after a deal closed.  It’s that memorable because it’s the only time that’s happened – and I enjoyed it

Take your career where you think it should go, not where others think it should go. Learn the trade and skills required for you be exceptional in this industry. Focus on building a long-lasting career instead of being fixated on obtaining immediate financial gratification.

legallyengagedPrivate Equity Law Practice Interview with Edidem Basiekanem
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Entertainment Law Practice Interview with Oyinkan Fawehinmi

Please note that all opinions expressed in this interview are the opinions of the lawyer interviewed. They do not necessarily represent the opinion of their employer or of Legally Engaged.

The Entertainment industry is an ecosystem which caters to creatives such as recording and performing artistes, comedians, dancers, film actors, sports personalities, etc. The industry is founded on the tenets of Intellectual Property which includes copyright, trademark, image rights, etc. The Nigerian Entertainment industry is still in its budding stages and requires more professionals to create principles and structures in the industry.

My typical daily activities as an Entertainment lawyer include:

Reviewing and negotiating various entertainment contracts such as Distribution/License/IP sale or transfer documents

Writing opinions on various issues relating to the industry for a wide range of clients

Attending business development strategy meeting with and on behalf of clients

Sourcing deals and contracts for clients

Crisis Management

I love the process of creativity and I believe so much in the power the arts have in shaping and influencing culture generally.

My top three attributes tenacity, innovation and hard work

I work with mostly creative people who have no idea of how the business side of things work so I have to do a lot of education as to rights, business ethics, management of expectations etc.

My workload is crazy because I have to constantly be the innovative solution provider for my clients at every point of their careers. It is a new industry so the professionals are charged with the responsibility of putting necessary structures in place to encourage the industry to blossom. So it’s a lot of trial and error and your clients think you are their messiah.

The most rewarding aspect of this sector for me is the beauty of watching a creative idea come into its full potential.

Law school did not prepare me for this sector in any way. All my skills were acquired during my undergraduate years and my school played a role in sharpening those skills. Law school for me was like zombie mode. Just cram and pour it back out for the exams.

Law School prepared me but not adequately. I was however able to catch-up through dedication and devotion during my time in the employment of one of the big firms in Nigeria. I learnt most things I didn’t know in law school then and most importantly is the burning desire to live your dream. I would have not been here today if I didn’t take the bold step to quit my well-paid job as a young lawyer to live and practice what I believe in.

I see myself in ten years heading a vertical chain ecosystem in the African industry. So I see myself either as CEO in a one stop shop entertainment company like a Time Warner Company or Universal Group.

My most memorable event has to be when one of the companies I work with got a music producer his first cheque for a job he produced about a decade ago. It was very moving for me because my life is dedicated to ensuring creatives are well rewarded.

My advice is you must come with a truck load of passion to work in the entertainment industry. Because the industry is still in its formative years, it needs vibrant and passionate lawyers

legallyengagedEntertainment Law Practice Interview with Oyinkan Fawehinmi
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Human Rights Law Practice Interview with Caleb Onwe

Please note that all opinions expressed in this interview are the opinions of the lawyer interviewed. They do not necessarily represent the opinion of their employer or of Legally Engaged.

Human Rights protection is sometimes referred to as public interest litigation. This area of law includes representing people whose human rights are violated either by state agencies or corporate organizations and individuals. It also involves holding the government accountable or challenging policies and programs of government that are anti-masses in court of law.

I choose this part of the profession because of my passion for humanity. I believe that we all owe a duty to ensure that our society is free for all, and everyone has equal opportunity to attain the zenith of his/her aspiration in life. When this is not guaranteed, there is bound to be rift and chaos in the society as it is today.

Taxation is an interesting and budding area of law in Nigeria, and its smooth workability if well managed, would naturally lead to wealth redistribution and ultimately boost the economy.

 

I believe making impact in Nigeria’s taxation system would be a fast means of contributing to the development of Nigeria, which has always been my earnest desire. So, I chose taxation because I wanted to contribute to its growth and development of Nigeria ultimately.

A young lawyer needs the zeal and passion for humanity. The road is very tough especially for young lawyers but with uncompromising zeal, you will not be cajoled by forces against humanity.

I work with all types of people whose fundamental human rights are infringed.

The workload is very tedious especially if you work alone like I do in my newly established law firm (PENLIT & GREYSON SOLICITORS). It can be difficult to meet up with schedules. I work 15hrs a day including weekends.

The most challenging aspect of the work is lack of funds, slow pace of our justice system and wrong impression of the duties of lawyers by pedestrians. For instance, when after listening to the magistrate conclude the case of an accused yesterday 11/5/17 without trial and conviction, I stood up to take over the case, to many people who were in the court I was not doing any good thing because according to them the accused committed the offence thereby does not need legal representation. I however told the court that even though it seems the case has been concluded against the accused, that my coming is to ensure that the prosecution proves his case as required by law before he is convicted; my duty is not to secure acquittal but to ensure that justice is done in the matter.

But in all, the most pressing challenge is fund if you are starting newly and on your own because most of the client you may stand for might not have the money to pay.

The fulfillment of helping some people regain their societal value in life and also seeing that you are contributing to the advancement of your society and our laws.

Law School prepared me but not adequately. I was however able to catch-up through dedication and devotion during my time in the employment of one of the big firms in Nigeria. I learnt most things I didn’t know in law school then and most importantly is the burning desire to live your dream. I would have not been here today if I didn’t take the bold step to quit my well-paid job as a young lawyer to live and practice what I believe in.

With undivided attention and focus, I think someone in my career would be able to be among the leading young human rights advocates in the profession where the person can be able to have contributed in shaping many issues in the country. I would like to end up in the zenith of this profession.

Giving back life to someone who already lost hope in the society he lives. One of my clients, let’s call him LJ, would have died in prison hospital if I did not intervene. He was hospitalized throughout his two months’ incarceration in Ikoyi prisons with the kidney disease, fainting daily and not feeding properly. My intervention ensured his bail, discharge and onward treatment after. I filed for the variation of the bail terms of LJ and the prosecuting police officer asked me to “settle” him or else he will oppose my application. Fortunately, his opposition did not see the light of the day and justice prevailed.

Young lawyers who have interest in taking a career in Public Interest Litigation should be sure they have passion for humanity. Your interest should be genuine in order to make the best of it. It may not be paying at the beginning but with consistency and persistence, the future is bright.

legallyengagedHuman Rights Law Practice Interview with Caleb Onwe
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Taxation Law Practice Interview with Osiri Ndukwe

Please note that all opinions expressed in this interview are the opinions of the individual interviewed. They do not necessarily represent the opinion of their employer or of Legally Engaged.

Public services such as provision of good roads, health care system, electricity, education, etc., are necessary for the social and economic well being of the people. Taxation is the process of providing government with regular, dependable and continuous source of revenue by transferring money from private hands into government treasury through compulsory payment.

Representing clients in courts on taxation matters

Advising clients on taxation matters

Interfacing between clients and government agencies

Writing articles on taxation for publication

Taxation is an interesting and budding area of law in Nigeria, and its smooth workability if well managed, would naturally lead to wealth redistribution and ultimately boost the economy.

 

I believe making impact in Nigeria’s taxation system would be a fast means of contributing to the development of Nigeria, which has always been my earnest desire. So, I chose taxation because I wanted to contribute to its growth and development of Nigeria ultimately.

He/she must be:

research-driven;

detail-oriented;

determined;

ready to put in long hours; and

proficient in communication (written and oral)

I work between 55 to 65 hours every week (exclusion of weekends). However, when there is important and urgent work, I work during the weekends, but on a flexible schedule.

Taxation is very wide area of law, but with few Nigerian law cases (that is in comparison to other pronounced areas). So, a lot of time, research and dedication are required to make a strong headway in this area.

 

Furthermore, lack of proper administration of the existing tax laws in Nigeria is a huge challenge.

Taxation is an area of law that concerns almost everybody – individuals and companies, yet there are few experts. So, it is somewhat quite rewarding financially to the few lawyers involved in it.

 

In addition, the knowledge of the Nigeria’s taxation system helps one to know his or her rights, and as they say, “no knowledge is a waste”.

To an extent, law school prepared me for this area of law. The marathon and long hours of law school schedule somehow prepared me for the long hours of work I put in now as a practicing lawyer.

 

However, courses, seminars and researches in taxation have contributed more in preparing me for this area of law.

As earlier mentioned about the budding nature of taxation law in Nigeria, most renowned tax experts usually venture into the corporate world – in-house counsel.

 

5 – 10 years from now, I see myself being recognized as a top taxation expert in the world.

I will join great men to say, “never limit yourself”. To work in taxation, one just needs to work hard and trust God.

You must be ready to do the “dirty work”. Going to court may be exhausting and time consuming, especially because of the workload of the courts. But this shouldn’t deter you from getting involved in different areas of litigation, commercial, family, probate etc. You should also make an effort to handle at least one or more pro bono cases a year, depending on your schedule. Not only would this enable you give back to the society, it also builds your confidence in courtroom advocacy.

legallyengagedTaxation Law Practice Interview with Osiri Ndukwe
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Dispute Resolution – Yuli Eyesan

Please note that all opinions expressed in this interview are the opinions of the lawyer interviewed. They do not necessarily represent the opinion of their employer or of Legally Engaged.

Dispute resolution is the process of resolving actual or potential conflicts between parties through the adoption of litigation or alternative dispute resolution mechanisms such as arbitration, mediation and conciliation.

Dispute Resolution involves all mechanisms that can be employed in resolving disputes between parties. These include litigation, arbitration, mediation and negotiation. Litigation and arbitration are usually the widely used mechanisms in the Nigerian legal sector, although disputing parties are now being encouraged to mediate.

 

Contrary to what most people think, most of the work in litigation is done outside the court, these include advisory, case management, drafting of court processes, client meetings, to name a few.

 

Arbitration, although similar to litigation allows parties to choose their umpire, whose decision, much like the judge’s is binding.

Litigation is the most common method of dispute resolution in our clime and involves the parties submitting their grievances to an impartial arbiter (“the Judge”) in compliance with the laid down procedure and the Judge placing the evidence received from the parties on an imaginary scale. The Judge then gives judgment on a balance of probability.

A typical day for me starts with resumption at one of the courthouses in Lagos. Depending on the schedule of the court, I could be in court for as long as 4 hours waiting for my case to be heard.

 

When I am not in court, I am involved in a number of other preparatory activities including, preparing case management strategy, attending meetings with clients and witnesses, participating in brainstorming sessions with team members, drafting and reviewing court processes.

Interestingly, I did not start out in dispute resolution; I was in a transactional department in my firm and really enjoyed the work there. So my decision to practice was not by choice, as we have a rotational system in the firm. Although I had studied Mediation and International Arbitration during my LLM program, I had never given much thought to litigation practice, especially before the Nigerian courts.

 

My experience so far has been worthwhile, I have learnt a lot but I think I’ll be heading back to transactional work soon.

Litigation for me, as with other areas of law requires an active and creative mind. I like to think of my cases as Sudoku puzzles, fitting pieces in the right place is important in obtaining a win for the client. To be really successful, you need to go the extra mile, read more recent cases, be diligent in filing court processes on time, never miss a court date and, do not take unnecessary adjournments as this slows down the entire court process. In addition to this you must been able to speak boldly and audibly, especially when appearing in cou

 mostly advise corporate entities including financial institutions and energy companies, government institutions and occasionally individuals. Disputes are really not client specific, as they arise in all areas of life. In the last few years, I have specialized in representing employers in labour related disputes.d

I currently handle a number of court cases and arbitrations. I typically work a minimum of 9 hours everyday. However, when I have a tight deadline, such as filing a court process within time, this can extend to 12 to 18 hours during the weekdays. Although I rarely work weekends, except in exceptional circumstances, I usually spend Sunday evenings planning for the next week and finishing any outstanding work from the previous week

I find court attendance the most challenging. This is because until I become a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, I will have to wait in court for about 2 to 4 hours before my case is heard. For me this is time lost that can never be regained. On the flip side, while in court I learn from other cases I observe and this has been quite useful.

Working on an international arbitration can be very rewarding. The exposure to other legal systems, legal thinking, as well as the opportunity to travel is definitely a plus for anyone who wants to be a truly international lawyer. Also courtroom advocacy improves your confidence; I find that speaking with clients and before large audiences is less daunting for me.

I really do not remember much of what I studied while at the law school because my attitude was “to study to pass”. That said, the law school attachment program provided exposure to how the legal system works in practice; I was fortunate to intern with one of the top 4 commercial law firms.

 

In my view, the law school system is quite theoretical rather than practical, so issues, such as legal writing, interviewing clients, drafting agreements etc. are not adequately dealt with. However, in my first year, I was exposed to clients early and required to write legal opinions which I learnt very quickly.

Although I have spent that last two years in litigation and largely enjoyed it, I see myself advising on transactions. I am more inclined towards international practice, as I believe the world through the advancement in technology is increasingly getting smaller. But we never know I might just become the next Senior Advocate!

I had appeared before a judge several times at the National Industrial Court and had a made a good impression, I think. Howeveron a particular day I was appearing alone and I was going to take a date for trial, but was ambushed by the other party who insisted that trial must start on that date. The judge referred to me as the “young silk” (this means a Senior Advocate of Nigeria) and inquired whether I was prepared for trial. Well, I wasn’t, but the recognition gave me a confidence boost, and I actually commenced trial that day.

You must be ready to do the “dirty work”. Going to court may be exhausting and time consuming, especially because of the workload of the courts. But this shouldn’t deter you from getting involved in different areas of litigation, commercial, family, probate etc. You should also make an effort to handle at least one or more pro bono cases a year, depending on your schedule. Not only would this enable you give back to the society, it also builds your confidence in courtroom advocacy.

legallyengagedDispute Resolution – Yuli Eyesan
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Dispute Resolution – Tanimola Anjorin

Please note that all opinions expressed in this interview are the opinions of the lawyer interviewed. They do not necessarily represent the opinion of their employer or of Legally Engaged

Dispute resolution is the process of resolving actual or potential conflicts between parties through the adoption of litigation or alternative dispute resolution mechanisms such as arbitration, mediation and conciliation.

 

Litigation is the most common method of dispute resolution in our clime and involves the parties submitting their grievances to an impartial arbiter (“the Judge”) in compliance with the laid down procedure and the Judge placing the evidence received from the parties on an imaginary scale. The Judge then gives judgment on a balance of probability.

As a lawyer trained in litigation, I attend court sittings about three times in a week. When I do not have prescheduled cases, I sometimes go to court to observe the demeanour, disposition and decision of some of the judges before whom I have pending matters.

 

My daily task when I am in court involves getting to court early, considering possible issues that the other party or the court may raise. After court proceedings, I send a litigation update to the client (notwithstanding the client’s attendance in court), review my strategy for the next case and conduct research (including reading law reports) in order to be abreast of developments in the law.

I am passionate about using the law to regulate the activities of people and consider the legal profession as a great avenue for influencing humanity. The admiration and respect for lawyers also influenced my decision to study law.

The ability to think critically, good oral and written communication skills and strong analytical skills are important for dispute resolution lawyers.

I work with both corporate and individual clients.

My workload is sometimes high. However, my passion for the legal profession keeps me motivated and I continue to derive satisfaction from what I do.

The most challenging aspect of litigation is having to anticipate the strategy of the other party. Otherwise, the client’s case may be prematurely defeated.

Litigation broadens one’s horizon and exposes one to diverse areas. Litigators are employed in a variety of transactions in the event of disputes between parties as to the performance of contracts, interpretation of contractual documents or fulfilment of obligations and any other areas of conflict.

The law school curriculum was a good introduction to dispute resolution practice.  However, litigation cannot be completely taught within the walls of a classroom. In litigation, one needs to constantly observe the application of the law in the courts and take active steps to be abreast of developments in the law.

 

I believe that with continued hard work and dedication, I will be adorned with the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), the highest rank of the profession or called upon to serve as a judge.

I would always remember my first solo appearance in court. It made me wonder whether I was in the right profession. I was to get a trial date before the High Court in Ibadan. The Honourable Judge believed that the suit, being one of recovery of premises, ought to have been filed at the magistrate court. I argued passionately to keep the matter at the High Court but the Judge transferred the matter to the magistrate court. In his words “Counsel, sit down, I have made up my mind. I am transferring this matter to the magistrate court”.

 

I felt bad and could not even report the proceeding in the office until my Head of Chambers requested for an update the following day. However, the transfer worked in favour of the firm because the matter was concluded within a month while similar matters at the High Court lingered on.

Aspiring dispute resolution lawyers should strive to build strong advocacy and research skills early in their careers.

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Compliance – Ife Ogunleye

Ife graduated with a law degree from the University of Manchester. After spending a short while working in a law firm, I moved into the policy field and worked on various policy and financial regulatory issues for a trade organisation before leaving to go to law school. Since law school, I has been working as a compliance and investigations lawyer. 

Please note that all opinions expressed in this interview are the opinions of the individual interviewed. They do not necessarily represent the opinion of their employer or of Legally Engaged.

Compliance and investigations law is about helping clients carry on business in a manner that is in accordance with laws and regulations. Companies would usually have thousands of rules and legislation that is applicable to them and so would often need help determining what obligations they have and how to best comply with them. Investigations kicks in when companies need to figure out particular incidents that have occurred within their organisations for a myriad of reasons.

The work involves a huge amount of research. In determining a company’s compliance obligations you start by compiling a list of all the laws, regulations etc. that applies to the company’s operations. There’s also a significant amount of drafting. If I’m working on an investigation, then I’ll be reviewing the company’s documents, carrying out research, drafting memos and reports and communicating regularly with the client either via email or conference calls.

I had spent some time offering quasi-compliance services to companies in a previous job I had, knew that I enjoyed working in that space and had been thinking of focusing on the compliance sector after law school especially as I realized that this was not something a lot of companies paid much attention to, to their detriment. Also, not a lot of law firms offered full-fledged compliance services so it seemed like a sector in which there was still much ground to cover and enough room to grow and develop.

As with any other area of law, attention to detail is quite important. You also have to be quite analytical and be able to make logical deductions. Having excellent communication skills is non-negotiable, as is the ability to work in a team effectively. Apart from these, it helps if you’re motivated, determined and driven.

The client list is actually quite varied across various industries but they tend to be multinational companies.

The workload can be quite intense. Offering compliance legal services involves a huge volume of work, understanding the clients business and developing a framework that covers all of the clients’ obligations. With investigations, you’re frequently looking over transactions that happened months, or sometimes years ago; reviewing tons of emails, documents etc.; interviewing people involved; identifying any issues and pulling all that information together into a format that is helpful to the client. You’re frequently doing this to a very tight deadline so it does mean a lot of long days and late nights.

I think the most rewarding part of the job is seeing an investigation to the end – either helping a client successfully navigating a criminal investigation into its conduct or seeing a client implement recommendations you’ve given them at the end of an internal investigation to become a more ethical company.

One of the most difficult things to deal with is the sheer amount of work involved I think. It usually involves working a lot of late nights and weekends.

Studying is always very different from practicing – law school would never really give you the technical knowledge of particular industries for instance but there are skills that you pick up that come in handy wherever you end up. Having good analytical abilities or communication skills helps when you move into work.

People are truly only now beginning to pay attention to compliance in Nigeria and compared to other jurisdictions, the sector is still in its infant stage so I definitely see myself continuing to practice in this area.

One highlight was accompanying a client to a high-profile hearing before a Senate Committee and seeing that we had addressed all the issues raised by the Committee in the investigation beforehand. All the work we had done meant that the client could confidently represent itself before the Committee.

Just get out there and be proactive. Send in applications for internships, talk to people in the industry and keep up to date with the news.

legallyengagedCompliance – Ife Ogunleye
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