Lawyer of the Week – Liz Lenjo
With the crop of novel areas of law including fashion, sports and entertainment law, comes stakeholders in the legal profession who define such spaces. Our lawyer of the week is one of those building a dynasty in some of these fields. Liz Lenjo is an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya specializing in Intellectual Property Law, Entertainment Law, Media Law and Fashion Law. She is a co-owner and managing partner of a boutique legal services firm, Kikao Law, which specializes in the mentioned areas of law as well as Sports Law.
Do follow our insightful conversation below!
- Kindly share with us your law educational background.
Bachelor of Laws Catholic University of Eastern Africa, Post-Graduate Diploma Kenya School of Law, Master of Laws University of Turin (Italy) in conjunction with WIPO Academy.
Various post graduate courses with Fordham Law – Fashion Law, Harvardx- Copyrightx, WIPO Academy- IP Management and Technology Transfer, WIPO Mediation and Arbitration.
- Did you always set out to study the law?
Law was always my first choice, but I also toyed with pursuing journalism. Of course, law won in the eyes of my parents because of its prestige. In my other life though, I would have preferred to be a dancer by profession.
- Why did you choose to practice Intellectual Property Law (IPL)?
During my varsity days, I was a model. I ventured into a few commercial ventures, but it was clear we had no lawyers who understood the entertainment and modeling space. That was the beginning of my passion for IP Law.
- Could you demystify the relationship your various practice areas – IPL, Entertainment, Media and Fashion Law?
IP Law is the umbrella / mother of law surrounding the entertainment, media and fashion industries. What sets them apart is the business aspects of the industries that informs how to best apply IP law principles and other legal principles to enhance these industries. So, to be more efficient, apart from IP Law, it also involves a lot of industry business practices and identifying the best legal strategies to enhance these businesses.
- Do tell us more about Kikao Law? What drove you to start this establishment as such early stage of your career?
It was more of a calling. I realized I enjoyed being the captain of a ship and wanted to build my own legacy. It’s hard to do that when in employment for obvious reasons. So, I took a leap of faith and together with my business partner, Kikao Law was born.
- You were recently listed in Kenya’s Business Daily Top 40 Women under 40. What’s your drive for success?
I strive to stand out from the crowd, to be known to stand for something. I want my presence on this earth to be felt and to be memorable. I would like to inspire young lawyers who are drowning in hopelessness. I also always wanted to be a pioneer in something, and with the grace of God and support from my husband and family, I have managed to rise. It has not been an easy journey, but perseverance and consistency are everything. I am a finisher, not a quitter!
- What’s the current state IP awareness, practice and enforcement of Kenya?
It still has a long way to go. Kenyans are yet to identify with the role and value and IP. There is still this misconception that IP is a reserve for the rich, so not many SMEs and other small businesses embrace and see the importance of IP. Also, the disinterest by international brands to protect their brands in Kenya and Africa, has made IP infringement seem okay to most Kenyans. Which continues to negate the value of IP in our industries.
- What forms of intellectual property rights are entertainers eligible for and how can they be effectively monetised?
All. It just depends on the business strategies and goals of the companies and individuals in the industry. Also, their level of innovativeness matters. In Kenya, we mostly see copyright protection as it’s the most obvious, but trademarks, industrial designs and patents have great potential in the industry if they do not shy away from innovation and pushing the envelope of creativity to grow their businesses. Entertainers also need to remember that you have to spend money to make money, like in any other business.
- Leaving the law aside, what other areas interest you?
Music and fashion. I enjoy a good choreography, fashionable clothes and good movies. The entertainment side of the legal side I like. I also enjoy cooking, travelling and trying out new cuisines. Mentorship is also close to my heart.
- A couple of law students are now showing interest in delving into the practice area of Entertainment law. What prospects does this field hold and what counsel do you have for such enthusiastic students?
The role of lawyers is slowly morphing into more than legal aspects alone and demands knowledge of the businesses in which one wants to work in. So, as lawyers, we need to diversify. I would tell the students to aim to be global and all-rounders. Being well versed with various aspects of a business is a huge plus. It also makes one knowledgeable. After all, law is a social science. It cuts across everything.
- Any final words?
To be a good lawyer, one needs to be bold; firm and flexible. We can no longer afford to be rigid if we want to remain relevant.
Thanks for your time!