Hello there. We trust you are making the best use of the lockdown and staying safe, because we are!
This week, we feature a 4th Year Law Student of the Obafemi Awolowo University. She speaks on her internship experiences with law firms and non law firms and their impact on academics. She also shares her hope for the Legal Profession in Nigeria.
Read the full interview below.
Kindly introduce yourself
I am Precious Adeleke, a fourth year law student at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. In law, I am almost certain to take on a role as a Corporate and Commercial Energy & Infrastructure Lawyer. Outside of Law, I am very interested in the business development of companies. I love to explore, network amongst professionals, and be creative.
What informed your decision to take on Law as a course of study? How enjoyable has it been?
When I was 10, my father asked what I wanted to become as an adult, and I wanted to become a Lawyer. I never really knew what sparked my interest, but even though I was the Kid that was good at Maths and Science, I was still the only one amongst almost 30 students in Art class. Taking on Law as a course of study has been very hectic and at the same time very enjoyable. I get to learn new things that an average person would not know unless they made adequate research, and I am happy about it!
What are your areas of interest in Law? How have your experiences as a law student helped advance these interests?
I am very interested in Energy & Infrastructure, and as I have earlier stated, I would most likely be a Corporate and Commercial lawyer in the nearest future. Although, I have not taken many courses relating to my interest, I have learnt quite a lot from being a member of The Energy Club, OAU, and from the internship experiences I have had.
Furthermore, I am also interested in the business development of companies from a legal stand point which many in-house counsels do, and from my most recent internship experience and with online courses, I can say I have a grasp of it already.
Can you share your internship experience with non law firms?
The most recent non law internship experience that I have had, has been with an indigenous Premium Oil and Gas company in Nigeria, Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc. Even though I work at the Legal Department of the company, a lot of difference still shows between working at a company, and working at a law firm. I have learnt how companies operate, how contracts are drafted and executed; I even wrote a legal opinion for the company at one point. I have learnt that many times, a lawyer does not simply research a situation and argue about it in court, or advise her client about it. Here, a lawyer is actively in the business of the company. At any point the company wants to make a decision, your expertise as a lawyer/company business developer is needed. You do not simply go to court as an in house counsel (you do not do that at all in fact), you work with all the teams in the company to achieve a common goal – improving the company’s business.
I agree with the norm that as a law student that wants to have a great learning experience of the practice of law, interning at Law Firms is surely your best bet. Nonetheless, I believe companies such as Seplat Petroleum, give you more than just a legal learning experience.
How do you leverage on internships and membership of organizations to achieve academic excellence?
Altogether, I have gained internship experiences at five law firms (Banwo & Ighodalo; Aluko & Oyebode; Advocaat Law Practice; Osibogun & Partners; and Vernia Legal Practitioners) and a Company. Further, I am a member of four extra curricular organizations in school (The ADR Society, The Energy Club, The Tax Club and Victus Chambers). These internships, as they are quite well known for, have given me the practical experience of the legal profession. These organizations, often combine the non legal knowledge and the legal knowledge to help lawyers in their respective fields and to understand clients better. I have thus been able to use these practical experiences to help me in my academics and they have improved my apprehension of my academic work.
What will you consider your most remarkable moment as a law student till date?
For me as a law student, I am either having a very bad day, or a super awesome day. I am happy to have had a fair share of both.
The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted normal activities across the world. What peculiar effect do you think the lockdown will have on the economy and law?
With regards to the economic effect of the pandemic, it is very easy to see a recession looming. Much of economic activities have been closed down, thus, not very much is contributing to the country’s GDP at the moment. Further, due to the loss of revenue for companies, there may be a quite a number of job layoffs.
As regards the legal effect, I also foresee a lot of dispute resolutions post corona virus. This would be largely due to the non performance of contracts. In our jurisdiction, the fact that the impact of a force majeure event on many contracts depends on what is agreed by the parties at the time of making the contract, makes it hard to rely on it as a way to terminate or suspend contractual obligations. Many parties would therefore rely on Frustration as an event to discharge their obligations. Even though Covid–19 is a frustrating event that would discharge some contracts, it may not be enough to discharge others. The decision lies with the courts. What I would advice that companies do is to maintain document retention while keeping a good record of chain of events, as they would most likely need it in dispute resolution cases.
Where do you see yourself in the next seven years? Do you see any advancement in the legal system within this time frame?
In the next seven years, I see myself achieving that one thing I have always dreamed about apart from becoming a lawyer – owning my own company. Although, I am not yet particular about what field the company would deal in, something tells me it is going to be in the Energy, Transport, or Tech Sector, maybe even all.
As regards any advancement in the legal sector, I bet it is no more news that globalization extends to much of a lawyer’s work. In fact, many lawyers already experience the technological disruption. An Harvard professor explained the concept of ‘disruptive innovation’ as the potential for ‘cheaper, simpler, smaller, and…more convenient’ products to displace the existing market and value network. This disruptive innovative can be seen in the legal profession, particularly in Nigeria through the use of easier research networks like Law Pavilion. With such networks in place, and with more to come, many traditional law firms may be out of place, and others would be compelled to advance with these technologies.
Any final words?
This is personal mantra of mine and I would like to share with anyone who wants to learn. The air is full of ideas, expand your life interests, seek out new and interesting experiences, no matter how mundane or inconsequential they may seem to others.
I beseech everyone to stay at home and stay safe until this pandemic is over. Also, know that this is a great time to read that book, to write that book, to take that course, to call that friend, and do those things that you have procrastinated up until now. Thank you.
Thank you for your time, Precious.