Happy New Month everyone. This week, we got to feature Muyiwa Odubela, a law student whose leadership qualities stand out among many other virtues. Legal Pages’ interview with Muyiwa spans through his experience coordinating student organizations, his membership of an ADR association and the importance of personal branding for students.
Hello, can we get to know you?
I am Muyiwa ‘Seun Odubela, a law graduate of the prestigious Olabisi Onabanjo University (formerly Ogun State University), Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State. I hail from Ikenne-Remo, Ogun State. I am currently a Student at the Nigerian Law School, Abuja Campus (Headquarters), Bwari.
How well are you finding the Nigerian Law School? What are your expectations for the next nine months?
The Law School, for me, is going on pretty well. I am coping much better than I thought I would, having heard so many bad tales about it. However, I was able to learn much more about the law school and curriculum and I chose the part I want to believe. So here I am, enjoying it.
My expectation for the next nine months centres around the Nigerian Law School and it’s going to be a lovely experience by the grace of God. Just like every well-meaning person, part of my expectations is trusting God well for the ‘Red Scroll.’ I hope to leave the law school with a sense of fulfilment of having learnt so much, and eager to go into the legal market to make my contributions to the noble profession.
Back in your university days, you were the head of various organizations. Looking back, what lessons have you learnt from the leadership positions?
Well, back in my university days, I was the head of a few organizations and it truly didn’t come without lessons. I was privileged to be the President of the Christian Law Students’ Fellowship of Nigeria (CLASFON) OOU Chapter, Vice President of Christ Image Assembly, Lord Advocate (President) of the Legal Magnates & Company, President of the Infinity Foundation, Clinic Head (President) of the Olabisi Onabanjo University Law Clinic, to mention a few, and even amidst several committees I headed.
These positions did not come without demanding for so much of my time, energy, resources, finances and attention. Because of the diverse boards of executives I had to work with across organizations, I made sure I wasn’t forgetting tasks to be done as I would always make calls daily and work hard to ensure things were in order. Several people felt motivated with how well I was keeping up and still making good grades, particularly ‘As’. These were the beautiful moments for me as it taught me to make sacrifices, even when no one was willing. I made several traveling in between my exams for one official assignment or the other. There were days even after the exams when people had gone on holidays and I was still going to school every day in my white and black because I had to reach the Faculty Administrative Block for one task or the other. My Dean, Prof. Charles Adekoya was always there to guide me as and when needed.
While the lessons I have learnt from the Leadership positions is sufficient to publish a book, I must say a little. Leadership is another field I have passion for. Honestly, Leadership is not as easy as many people see it especially when you desire to be an effective Leader. I grew to love Leadership because of the sorry state of Nigeria. If we must fix this country, then we must desire Leadership. If we must so direct this ‘ship’ called Nigeria to a safe and confortable zone then we must so desire the right people to ‘Lead Us’. And like I teach at leadership seminars/trainings, the priority in leadership is not the ‘Office’, but the Ability. You can occupy the Office and no one counts you worthy. So I say, let your person touch people more than your office.The best way to building influence is by adding value to people.
According to John C. Maxwell, “Leadership is Influence.” Many people aspire to be Leaders, but we all place emphasis on the office. That’s where we miss it, because we forget about our abilities. You’re a Leader the moment you work on your abilities, because that’s what builds your influence. Your degree of influence will depend on your personality. Many times, why people should obey you should be because of your personality, not office. If they obey you for office alone, that obedience is limited. Once you leave that office, the obedience becomes a reproach.
As a Leader, do not lose your personal development and goals. As much as I wanted to achieve so much and make the administrations so notable in these organizations, yet I couldn’t forsake my personal development and goals as I hold this very dearly. As much as there is the grace of God that qualifies person, there is also the part of preparation upon every leader. Also, balancing those goals is really a common challenge for many people. As for me, God helped me. I knew the offices weren’t forever and I would hand over sooner or later. It is imperative to state here that being in too many engagements drains you physically, mentally & financially, and may also make you lose effectiveness. When you do well as an individual, virtually everyone will want to give you an idea that seems good to them. It is your duty to guard your vision well. Don’t be subject to everyone’s opinion. This does not translate to not listening to good advice. So that I don’t take up too much time, I’ll stop here.
You were also quite revered among fellow students. What would you say accounted for this?
I believe so much in personal development and I enjoyed adding value in whichever way I can to those around me. I think I am the serious type, but playful when I need to be. If you wanted to associate with me as a friend or colleague, then you must buy into my idea of personal development. I appreciate our friendship more when we are both getting better.
I give my attention to those who need it. Time is my most priced resource. This is something I really treasure as I most times time myself for virtually everything I do. It is said that the greatest gift you can give a person is your attention (time), because that’s the only thing you can’t get back.
If not law, what else?
If not Law, then Law, (smiles). Law is my passion and it really means a lot to me. There are several facets of the noble profession I seek to explore. It’ll take so much to take my mind off Law. Just as the erudite scholar, Roscoe Pound mentioned in his sociological postulation, “Law is an instrument of social engineering.” My passion for law is not restricted to the courtroom, but to contribute to human development and help fix our society by contributing my quota. Nevertheless, I have built myself with the help of God to be flexible and yet diligent in whichever aspect I find myself.
ADR or Litigation? Why?
I think it will be difficult to choose any of them. ADR meaning ‘Alternative Dispute Resolution’ is complimentary to Litigation. Both serve their functions well and should be explored based on their peculiarities and strengths, after all, they are both dispute resolution mechanisms. However, putting into consideration the adversarial nature of litigation and the ‘win-lose’ judgment, in contradistinction with ADR which attempts to secure a ‘win-win’ award so as to preserve the situation of things, the latter would first and foremost be my style. It’s not really an option though, most especially for the fact that Rule 15(3)(d) of the Rules of Professional Conduct, 2007, instructs a legal practitioner to first explore the option of ADR before resorting to or continuing litigation on behalf of his client.
Tell us about your experiences as an Associate member of the Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators
I love ADR, and so when I saw the opportunity to go for the Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators’ Professional ADR Certification Course, my heart leaped for joy. The training added great value to me and this has helped in my daily relations with people. I create time to carefully study people and their personality types and this helps me to know how to relate with them. I went for this professional course during my Final Year at Olabisi Onabanjo University, not minding the sacrifices to be made. Attending the Training Modules demanded that I travel down to the Nigerian Law School, Lagos Campus at Victoria Island, whenever there was to be a Module. The training afforded me to be grounded in Arbitration, Mediation, Conciliation, et al. I was able to further my knowledge by watching Arbitration Sessions on YouTube. I have used my skills in settling real life disputes and I am quite proud I am equipped with such a knowledge.
As an Associate member, it’s been a privilege working with certain officials of the Institute like Mr. ‘Segun Ogunyannwo and Mr. ‘Fisayo Ayita, the Registrar of the Institute and the National Coordinator NLS ADR respectively. For Mr Segun, he is very supportive as I cannot begin to mention his gracious acts extended to me and one of the organizations I headed. He really inspires me, considering he is great and yet so humble and approachable.In all, the experience has been awesome.
Majority of law students in Nigerian Universities find the current law curriculum quite monotonous and somewhat archaic. How would you advice the Council of Legal Education on the need to review the syllabus to accommodate evolving trends in Corporate Legal practice?
There are no truer words to say that the current law curriculum is monotonous, and rightly, it needs to be reviewed. I agree with Mrs. Felicia Eimunjeze who once said inter alia that “achieving excellence in the legal profession is not in how much more of law and practice are crammed into Schools’ curricula; rather is in training law students to become practitioners whose services will be valued in the internationalized market of today.”
However, the same students who clamour for the emerging trends to be incorporated into the curriculum are quite the same students who complain that the Nigerian Law School curriculum is too broad and draining. It is my belief that the ‘Actual Learning of Law’ begins outside the law school. The Law School cannot teach all, as there will still be need for new wigs to engage in even greater learning so as to know where to properly settle for. The syllabus given to the Nigerian Law School by the Council of Legal Education is just the basics and the foundation of legal practice.
What pieces of advice do you have for the younger generation of Law students on Personal development?
In this generation, Personal Development is everything. Let it be your drive and you’ll end up being exceptional. Do not follow trends always, and also do not be a mediocre. There is a reason it is called personal, it’s because it is you alone. Even when an organization or firm trains you, do not let it end there, dive deeper. The competition in the legal market for the 21st century lawyers does not really make room for anyone to be short of being exceptional.
Just like Leo Tolstoy said: “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” This concludes that, if you want to change the world, change yourself. Also, it is said that: the more value you add to yourself, the more indispensable you become. Endeavour to plan well for the future, take academics very seriously, work hard and network with the right people.
Any final words?
The importance of God to a man’s success cannot be over emphasized. Do well to commit your endeavours to God. If it were by works, I’ll never have made it this far. God’s grace is a significant part of my success. Just be sure to have fulfilled your part of the agreement.
I appreciate the entire team of Legal Pages for this rare privilege and benevolence accorded to me. Your acts geared towards inspiring young legal minds are always ‘fantabulous.’ You’re doing well!
Thank you so very much.
Thanks for having us Muyiwa. Muyiwa can be reached on LinkedIn – Muyiwa S. Odubela or firstname.lastname@example.org