In our final “Law Student of the Week” series for 2019, we feature Olamilekan Adebanjo; a student at the University of Ibadan who is also the Chief Operating Officer at Legal Pages. He shares his leadership journey, tips for law students and more. Full interview below:
Kindly introduce yourself.
I am Olamilekan Olamide Adebanjo. I am a third year Law student at the University of Ibadan. I am a Judge of the Judicial Council, LSS-UI and the Chief Operating Officer of Legal Pages.
What inspired your study of the Law?
First off, I hated the Sciences. I still do I failed science courses woefully and I wasn’t too passionate about business either so I opted for the Arts. I chose Law because of the prestige but I changed my orientation later on after discovering several skills like Public Speaking, Good writing abilities and my passion for news that had to with legal issues. In all, I’ve come to love Law as a course of study so much that I would readily choose it over again.
You are currently the Chief Operating Officer at Legal Pages. Do tell us about your experience since you joined the company, especially under your current role?
Being COO of Legal Pages has been an amazing experience ever since. This role has exposed me to what the Legal Practice industry entails in this age and time. I have also been able to help other law students understand this dynamic by organizing webinars and several other programmes like the Law School Tip Series which aims to prepare graduates for Law School life. The Legal Pages platform has also afforded the chance to network with professionals and students from Nigeria and beyond through interviews and online sessions. I am grateful for the opportunity to add value and positively change the orientation of many towards legal education and practice as a whole.
You’ve also participated in several moot and mock competitions (winning a couple of achievements too). Run us through some and how they’ve shaped you.
Earlier this year, I was selected to represent the University of Ibadan at the 2019 African Human Rights Moot Court Competition which held at Botswana but my teammate and I could not participate in the Oral Rounds because we lacked funding. Albeit, I have participated in various national moot competitions. My team emerged winners at the 5th Eyitayo Jegede SAN Moot and Mock Competition where I was Best Counsel in both Moot and Mock rounds. I also participated at the 2019 ANUNAC at Obafemi Awolowo University in which my University emerged 1st Runner-up.
These competitions have been immensely beneficial. Through them, I’ve learnt new things and met wonderful people. I’m convinced that Brief/Memorial writing has helped me tackle exam questions like a lawyer, impress lecturers and score bonus marks…at least, my results give the impression.
Tell us more about your extra curricular activities
Outside academic work, I volunteer. I am passionate about education generally and this has informed my choice of organizations. I am currently the team lead of Project Inspire Support Hub which targets ‘A’ level students. I am a Member of the Moot and Mock Society, UI where I am also the Deputy Head of the Litigation and Competition Department. I am also currently the Director of Research of the Intellectual Property and Technology Law Club, University of Ibadan. I am a member of other organizations that I cannot necessarily exhaust here but safe to say, these experiences and groups have been both a test and a training ground of/for my commitment level, interpersonal relationships, industry and multitasking abilities. I urge every law student to actively pursue similar experiences as they inevitably prepare an individual for the future.
An innovative way for students to attain requisite skills is through online courses, and you’ve also done great in this regard. In what other ways can they be said to be beneficial?
For me, Massive Open Online Courses have been a platform to nurse my interests. I’ve readily taken up courses on subjects that I have a flair for. It has helped expand my knowledge base as most of these courses are not country specific; they give an insight into how things operate outside Nigeria. Online Courses have also been a proven test of responsibility. The ability to start a course without any “obligation” or external supervision and complete it shows how devoted an individual can be. For the records, MOOCs are also good for the CV.
What are major challenges faced by the average Nigerian law student? What’s the way forward?
The major challenge is that the environment is not enabling. We ought to take a cue from other countries and see what sort of encouraging atmosphere students learn under. For instance, in Nigerian public universities, there is no funding for competitions, no funding for important student events and the coursework we undertake are miles apart from what obtains in real legal practice. I believe the current curriculum should be revised, emerging areas of law like FinTech and Artificial Intelligence should be courses students can take at undergraduate level. Law Lecturers should also have practical legal experience. The distinction between a lecturer who has practiced (or practices) and one that doesn’t reflects in class. I believe the school management and other interested individuals should partner with student bodies to sponsor local and international competitions. This would put Nigeria on the world map and grant students international exposure. Students should also understand that a great deal of personal work goes into a successful law degree or career and should look for innovative ways to solve their problems if those at the top of the ladder are doing nothing about the current condition of law students. Joseph Onele’s petition against the grading system at the Nigerian Law School is a good example.
What areas of law do you have flair for and why?
Intellectual Property Law, Energy Law, Technology Law and Constitutional Law. My flair for these areas have been influenced by MOOCs, Moot Competition scenarios and for Tech Law, definitely my love for computers.
Tell us about your role model, if any. And why?
Sadly, I do not have a role model but there are people that I appreciate their amazing work in their chosen fields.
What other interests do you have aside the Law?
Non-Profit Volunteering and exploring Computers. I also find randomly surfing the internet fun. I like gospel music too but I am yet to find a worse singer than I am.
With respect to having the best internship experience, what advice do you have for students?
Pursue good grades and experiences that can build an attractive Curriculum Vitae and apply for internships. When you do secure these internships, sell yourself and build a lasting impression! Be enthusiastic about taking up new tasks, reading up on new areas of law and contributing to the work at the firm . Ask questions and be attentive to the responses of lawyers to them. Try to build relationships with willing lawyers. Dress well and speak well. Do not spend your time on unnecessary activities like social media. Lastly, ask for feedback after your experience.
Where is you see yourself in 7 years from now?
Hopefully, pursuing a postgraduate law degree, if I do not have one already; I also hope to have built my brand as the go-to person in my chosen area of Legal Practice. In 7 years, plans for starting a family with the love of the life ought to be in top gear.
What final charge do you have for fellow law students?
Pursue good grades at all levels. Possess value and carve a niche for yourself. Be visible. Be willing to explore, try, fail and try again. Be an all round student.