Victoria Opemipo Oloni is a recent graduate of the University of Ilorin, Nigeria. She was also recently the winner of the Law Students’ Category of the inaugural Adavize Alao Essay Competition on Privacy and Data Protection. In this interview, Victoria shares undergrad experience of how she managed major faculty clubs and still finished in the top three in her department. She also hints on the importance of internships for the contemporary law student. Full interview below:
Kindly introduce yourself
My name is Victoria Opemipo Oloni. I am from Ondo State. I just graduated from the Faculty of Law University of Ilorin. I’m 21 years old. I’m the 3rd of 3 children. I profess the Christian faith and God has been amazing.
Did you always set out to study law? If yes, what informed your decision?
My sister recently said that I’m the only one she knows that they have been calling “the law” since I was a child who ended up studying law. My parents just knew I was going to study law because I liked to argue and prove people wrong. Then I went to Art class. as the best student in the whole school, it was just natural for me to put law on my JAMB form. Nothing else appealed to me. When I didn’t get law the first time (I was given admission to study History Education), I applied a second time and I got it. I didn’t know what being a lawyer entailed as I will be the first in my family but it was just a natural decision to want to study law.
You were quite involved in club activities while in school. Share with us your journey and experience with extra curricular engagements.
I was a purely academic student in my first 3 years. I joined the legal aid clinic in my 2nd or third year, I joined the Tax club in year 4. I and a group of friends established the Intellectual Property Club (IPC) and International Law Students Association (ILSA) in my final year. The truth is I had made my GP at that point. My lowest semester GP was 4.29 and highest 4.85 so I was no longer scared. I realized that there was more to school than classes.
Extracurricular activities kept me going when school became boring and monotonous. I got tired on school. I got exposed to so many things because of my participation in extracurricular activities, I got to travel to the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) twice, my first time going to any other school in five years.
While setting up IPC and planning our event, I got to meet with Partners of Golden Circle law firms. We met the Banwo in Banwo and Ighodalo (IP Partner in Banwo and Ighodalo), Mr Davidson Oturu (IP partner of Aelex), Mr John Onyido (IP partner of SPA Ajibade). I got a first-hand experience on how to organise a national event and host schools. As director of research of IPC, I had to come up with content, facilitate trainings. I learnt more in my final year than my first 4 years combined. It was worth every minute I dedicated to it and my only regret is I should have began earlier.
What were the major challenges you were faced with as a law student? Were you able to overcome them?
I encountered many challenges.
First and foremost interest, I didn’t have interest in most of my courses. I loved public law courses though (constitutional law, criminal law and evidence) but others, I basically struggled. I’m not the most hardworking student on the planet but I had to do extra on courses I struggled with.
Another problem I faced was funding, I remember I had to juggle school with 2 part time jobs (free-lancewriting and teaching A level classes) in my 4th year, it was one hell of an experience. It’s funny how I had my highest GP with such a crazy schedule.
I also had a major health issue during my final exams but God had my back. It was a terrible experience nut I’m here now and my health is restored.
At a point I battled with depression. The loss of my parents hit harder than I cared to admit. I cried myself to sleep more nights than I could talk about. My relationship with God kept me going even when things got really bad.
I was able to overcome these challenges. I graduated with a 4.43 CGPA. I wanted a First class though.
Life will throw challenges in your face, how you choose to react is all on you.
Upon graduation, you were the 2nd best graduating female and 3rd best from your department. How did you effectively balance extra curricular activities with your studies?
It was extremely stressful, my health broke down, I was always tired but I was fulfilled. I had to push myself, set reminders and alarms because I can be very forgetful. I had the support of my friends, Opeoluwa Sanni, Theophilus Oladipo, Ibrahim Haroon (MY ILSA president) my IPC team (they were God sent), my church Word Sanctuary (my family), my sister and biggest fan Tomi Oloni. Basically, I had an amazing support system and that was what helped me balance everything
What area of law do you intend to specialize in, if any? Why?
ICT Law. When I was in SS2. I wanted to leave art class for science because I realized I had a flair for technology. I didn’t switch. I applied to study law but I always knew I was not going to do conventional law. Since my first year, I knew I was going to do an ICT law project so it was not particularly surprising when I did my project on Data Protection.
More law students are beginning to show displeasure for the litigation practice. Do you share this sentiment and what, in your opinion, is the root cause of this trend?
I have noticed the new trend and everyone is running away from litigation. I actually like litigation, it is interesting. The problem is the system. We cannot overlook the fact that our courts are swamped with cases, litigation takes forever, its tedious and time wasting. That is why it is now tagged Dispute Resolution as people are now opting for other ADR methods. In fact, in most contract and agreements, we have arbitration clauses. I think all disputes should not end up in court, the system is abused, and only matters which cannot be resolved with ADR should go to litigation. There are some classes of disputes that we can’t use ADR for especially in Nigeria. I don’t think litigation can completely be phased out but, in a few years, it will not be the first option when disputes arise.
Any role model and why?
Surprisingly, No. I have various people who inspire me in their little ways. My sister is one of my biggest inspirations. She graduated from the University top of her class at 19 and at 20 after her NYSC, she started managing a secondary school. She is 23 now, she just finished her masters while running the school fulltime. She is my hero.
Apart from the Law, what other interests do you have?
Reading. I love to read. I read hundreds of books every year. I have a crime mystery bias so yeah, I’m Sherlock Holmes in my head.
What tips do you have for students as regards attaining the best internship experience?
Start doing internships as early as possible. Don’t be scared of rejections. Apply to the biggest firms, golden circle law firms because they are at the top of the food chain. The worst case scenario is that your application mail will not be acknowledged. During your internship, put out your best work; it’s an opportunity to sell yourself. Don’t be particular about, distance or stress or renumeration, try to learn as much as you can.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? What plans do you have towards hitting the benchmark?
I have not figured that out yet but my plan is to make impact and leave a mark anywhere I find myself
Everyone is different, you have a unique role to play in the bigger picture. Find your niche and own it, make your life original. Start a movement, learn something new, be the best version of yourself that you can be. Let God lead You; He will never lead You astray.