Category Archive


Interview with Olatoyosi Alabi – Diverse Law Legal Personality of the Month (October 2020)

Diverse Law Publications October 5, 2020

Toyosi Alabi

Ma, can we meet you?

My name is Olatoyosi Alabi (Mrs.), a legal practitioner of 25 years.

I am a Partner at Olaniwun Ajayi LP  with over 20 years’ experience and proficiency in Intellectual property, notably trademarks enforcement, a prosecutor and defender of a number of lawsuits involving passing off claims, trademark, design, patent and copyright infringement, and revocation of trademarks. On the non-contentious side, I represent clients notably in Mergers and Acquisition transactions, advising on the transfer, acquisition or licensing of IP rights.

Outside law, I am quite passionate about engaging, motivating and building people up through counseling. I am a mother of three children and a Christian with a strong belief and faith in Christ,.

In the last twenty (20) years, Intellectual Property was not recognized in Nigeria as it is now, what factors influenced the choice of your practice area?

My interest in the practice of Intellectual property law stemmed from the firm I cut my teeth in practice with; Jackson Etti and Edu, specialists in Intellectual property. I will not say that  intellectual property law was unknown in Nigeria, as my previous firm and other IP firms in Nigeria, had huge portfolios of intellectual property matters, mostly from foreign clients with brands in Nigeria;  from electronic companies like Sony, to food brands like Kelloggs and Mars,  and cosmetic brands like Fashion Fair etc.

I focused on enforcing intellectual property rights through litigation as well as quasi-judicial measures like enforcement through the Standard Organization of Nigeria or the police, to protect intellectual property rights.

What is the future of Intellectual Property Law and Entertainment Law in the Nigeria Industry?

To envisage the future of intellectual property law, let’s dwell a little on the present.

Previously, intellectual property was centered on brand protection of manufactured goods, across various business sectors ranging from electronic manufacturing to fashion, to foods. With the advent of entertainment and technology, creations have become less tangible, making creatives concerned not just about branding but about exploitation of  the various components of  proprietary rights in their brands, and the prevention of unauthorised exploitation and devaluation of their works.

Creatives are past being solely concerned about someone recording music unauthorizedly and awoken to the commercialization of their work beyond their original creation. Although copyright in Nigeria need not be registered for proprietorship to be attributed to an author of works, creatives have recognized the competitive advantage in depositing their work with the copyright commission to secure their ownership for exploitation and facilitate adequate protection.

With the wave of Afrocentricity in the movie industry (not least from the ground breaking success of the megabudget film, Blank Panther), foreign investors are showing a much higher degree of appreciation and interest in works authored by Africans. We are thus witnessing within  the entertainment legal space, a lot of licensing and assignment of intellectual property rights, and a higher degree of recognition of the value of intellectual property rights   as  over which security interests can be created,  even as  securitization of IP is gaining prominence  in  advanced jurisdictions.

The recognition of different segments and parties involved in creative activity will rise as intellectual property rights are highly transactional and its full force would be seen in the aspects of entertainment and technology law.

What opportunities await Law students and Young Lawyers interested in Intellectual Property Law and what skills should they acquire?

Every skill required by any lawyer would be needed by an intellectual property lawyer. The basic contract law would always be king as its skills are very necessary. Specialist knowledge of IP can be obtained by educating oneself through direct read, interning with creatives or with law firms with IP practices. The knowledge of Mergers and Acquisitions would also come in handy as companies who need to invest and acquire IP assets would require the services of lawyers to advise them on these acquisitions and investments.

Speaking of opportunities open in intellectual property area, we have intellectual property enforcement lawyers who prosecute IP infringers, and defend proprietors’ works. To this end, knowledge of civil and criminal procedure will come in handy.  In other to thrive in this area, basic substantive knowledge of the law of torts, notably passing off, would be necessary. Knowledge of statutes governing Intellectual Property rights such as Trademarks Act, Patents and Designs Act, Copyright Act is key.

A lawyer who has studied law will essentially be able to plug his/her knowledge of contract when practicing. The role of contract law cannot be overemphasized and that forms the reason contract law should be taken very seriously from the get go. At the end of the day, contract will still be contract. The basic contractual principles would still apply irrespective of the sector.

If you are looking at being an Intellectual Property Enforcement lawyer, the knowledge base for that is just your civil and criminal procedure for a start. When it has to do with IP protection, substantive areas of torts, tort of passing off cannot be neglected.

Knowledge of all these areas will put a young lawyer in good stead.

As a Partner at Olaniwun Ajayi LP, how have you been able to effectively strike a balance between work life and other aspects of life?

 It’s an ongoing discussion and each person has found a way to work around it. I need to let us know that people in the work force or get married at different ages. Some work before getting married, while some others like me get married before joining the work force. I got married a year after law school. Immediately after law school, I went for my masters, waited a couple of months and got married prior to NYSC. Family comes first for me. I tried to balance that anytime I was not working, I was family focused.

In life, something has to give way for the other and in my own case; hanging out with friends gave way in my marital life. The quality of time you spend with your children speaks volumes. So after work, I make the most of the few hours left in the day for my children and when they go to bed, I may pull my laptop or a book back up and work. The other thing in relation to marriage was when the children go to bed, my husband and I will then have the much-needed time for each other as a couple. If you start out family life before your career the effect maybe that your career progression may be slowed down, but it is worth the sacrifice. I encourage people who have opportunities to work before marriage to sow a lot, so they can reap quickly and rely on the residual knowledge and experience when the children come and take up their time. Olaniwun Ajayi  launched a ‘Today; Tomorrow’ new way of life, which has been of help to many, as it essentially allows the generation of tomorrow, to shape the Olaniwun Ajayi business today, Members of the firm were granted the freewill to express and recreate  their work environment in the way it suits them. The firm took a drastic step in implementing a number of the creative suggestions proffered, in the spirit of “Today Tomorrow”. Of note is the introduction of flexi hours on a weekly basis given to members of staff to ‘do their own thing’.

What measures should be adopted to curb plagiarism in the Nigerian Entertainment Industry?

Plagiarism means infringement of a proprietary right. In relation to trademarks, the requisite legal terminology will be Trademark Infringement, while for copying of written articles or other literary work, it’s called Plagiarism or more pertinently, Copyright Infringement and in relation to replication of products, Counterfeiting. It has been tough to curb infringements especially in relation to technology. Although there are sufficient provisions in the Copyright Act for enforcement, including the reliance on Copyright inspectors of the Copyright Commission, or the Police to carry out search and seizures of infringing works, Nigeria however does not have sufficient machinery to actualize these provisions. 

Going down history lane, at the peak of pirating of DVDs in Nigeria, some proprietors, coming to terms with the limitations of curbing counterfeiting using the machination of the law, put on a more commercial  hat, and decided to  identifyand engage the big copyright infringers notably at Alaba market, here in Lagos. They approached infringers and struck a parallel deal with them; they formed a ‘Parallel trade’ whereby, for ‘commission-royalty payments’, proprietors of films authorized the copy of their movies by the ‘Alaba movement’, obviously at cheaper rates and in less qualitative forms, for a specific target market, whilst the ‘original’ more qualitative copies of the movies, were sold in the more elitist market. The end goal? A win win that enabled the proprietors earn from both markets and a peaceful more overt operation by previous infringers.

In a similar vein, the ‘take down’ demand as a mechanism of enforcement turned out to be an easier way to enforce infringement in the digital space. This has been effective because most of the credible distribution platforms do not want to be parties to litigation or or other contentious forms of dispute resolution. One major challenge is difficulty in identifying the infringers, in the absence of which the distribution platform is the target to which a takedown demand is made for infringing works.

What is your advice to law students and young lawyers on specialization?

Firstly, I must say that it is good to be in that place where you do not know what to specialize in.

I actually congratulate people of this generation because they are at that indecisive stage. Being at this ‘indecisive’ stage means that there is no pressure, and there is an opportunity toexplore and discover yourself. In fact, there is no timeline for specialization and there should be no hurry as this is an issue of discovery. Years of experience will assist you in narrowing down and knowing what you really want to do. Further, the Nigerian market is not tailored enough yet for a lawyer to settle for training in only one area of law. The nature of our market requires that you become a master of many; to be a good lawyer, you need to have sufficient knowledge in other areas.   

Therefore, with practice and experience, you will discover your area of passion and marry your passion with the economic value attainable from specifics areas of specialization.

Diverse Law Interview Team

  1. Mary Martins- Founding Partner, Diverse Law
  2. Philips Adekemi- Founding Partner, Diverse Law
  3. Chubiyojo Akagu-Vice President, Legal Personality Committee
  4. Adedamola Adetula- Head of research of personalities and Editorial team
  5. Ikeriehi Princess- Diverse Law, Volunteer
  6. Oluwasemipe Lanipekun -Lawal
    Associate, Recruitment Officer, Diverse Law.

Interview with Ugochukwu Obi – Diverse Law Legal Personality of the Month (September 2020)

Diverse Law Publications August 31, 2020

  1. Can we meet you sir?

I am Ugochukwu Obi, a Partner at Perchstone and Graeys, a leading law firm in Nigeria. I am a Graduate of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 2004. Before joining Perchstone and Graeys in April 2015, I had worked in the banking industry for about nine years. I obtained my Masters in Oil and Gas law at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. After concluding my masters mid-2009, I returned to work in the banking sector in Nigeria. I am married with three children.

2.  How did working as an in- house counsel develop your legal career?

The experience garnered from working as an In-house counsel in the banking sector was the strength of my recruitment by Perchstone & Graeys in 2015. Upon recruitment, the firm had a big project they were working on for two commercial banks in Nigeria on loan documentation. I utilized my banking experience in advising our clients on these projects.

Moving forward, banking and technology work together in terms of technological change in the banking sector. An opportunity came up in my law firm at the time I joined. My law firm being very innovative and dynamic, the Managing-Partner of the firm asked that we should develop the technology practice of the firm. I owned up to that challenge and begun developing that area of practice in the firm. In furtherance of my passion to grow this area of practice, my firm sent me to India on a secondment programme at one of the top Indian law firms. I spent close to three months working at different offices of the Indian firm. The knowledge and experience I garnered at the firm helped me to develop and quickly grow the technology practice area of the firm. I can boldly say that we are one of the leading law firms in Nigeria as regards technology law practice. Since 2015, we have handled several major technology transactions that cut across banking, agriculture, e-commerce, and other sectors that require technology.

3. How did you successfully transit into Banking Practice considering your academic degree in oil and gas?

Before going for my masters, I had already started working in the banking sector but what propelled my passion and interest in the oil and gas sector were two things.  Firstly, during my undergraduate’ days, I studied oil and gas law as an elective course, although it was called energy law in my faculty. I developed the interest at this stage. The second thing was when I graduated from the University, the Nigerian oil and gas sector was thriving. I intended to build a career in that sector, but it did not work out the way I had intended. I ended working in the banking sector. However, I am proud of the knowledge I have in the oil and gas sector which has assisted me in advising oil and gas clients in credit financing.

4.  There are students and young lawyers who intend to travel out of the country to further their studies. Do you advice lawyers to gain little experience before fathering their studies?

I will advise young lawyers not to be in a hurry, strive to gain experience from working in-house or in a law firm. The experience (despite how little it may seem) will assist you in your further studies whether locally or abroad. My experience handling lending transactions to oil and gas servicing companies at the Bank afforded me a practical insight into the operations of oil and gas industry and helped me effectively handle oil and gas transactions as a lawyer.

5.  You have worked with banks and you are currently a partner with one of the top law firms in Nigeria. What are some of the conditions to be considered by young wigs in choosing a place of work?

I will advise that Lawyers decide between working as an In-house lawyer or in a law firm. For an in-house legal counsel, certain factors should be considered. First, the skills needed in that sector. For example; in the area of banking, if you are an in-house lawyer in the bank, you need to have a general knowledge of the operations of the bank and that general knowledge does not end in the legal aspect of it so, you may be able to advise the bank management properly when issues come up. Second, your passion and interest need to be considered. For instance, working as an in-house counsel may sometimes become monotonous for you as you will find yourself doing the same thing repeatedly. You need to consider whether being an in-house counsel is something you will find satisfaction in doing.

In working with a law firm, there are two things you need to consider. You need to consider a firm that is into both litigation and commercial law practice. I will use my firm as an example. At P and G, we expose new entry Associates to the litigation and corporate aspects of the law. So, in your first two or three years, you will be allowed to go to court and also involved in the soliciting aspect of the law. Concerning the soliciting aspect of the practice, you will be placed on a rotational basis.  So if I am a young lawyer who wants to start his/her career in a law firm, I will look for a firm like Perchstone and Graeys because it will give you an opportunity and platform to choose whether to specialize as a litigator or a commercial lawyer.

6.  A young lawyer should indeed have an experience of both litigation and corporate-commercial. But then we know that the law school turns out over 5000 students yearly and usually, it is very difficult for young lawyers to get into a primary place of assignment and at the end of the day, they just settle down for what they get. How can one balance this interest with top law firms like yours that place more premium on a degree grade than getting a job in a firm in the first two to three years of my career?  

The legal labour market today is very competitive. I advise law undergraduates and graduates is to study hard and strive to graduate with at least a second-class upper division from the University. Although I am not an advocate of grades considering the nature of the legal profession; I know of graduates with 2:2 who have excelled than those who graduated with 2:1. However, due to the competition in the labour market, more emphasis has been placed on having good grades from school. At least you should strive for a second-class upper division. If you are not privileged to get into the top law firms, you can start with any traditional law firm and acquire the litigation experience which will help break into the top law firms. It happens frequently in Perchstone and Graeys.   We recruit some counsel as litigators because of their experience and, they have distinguished themselves in that aspect. Immediately they are employed, we acquaint them with the soliciting aspects of the practice and the result over the years is that they perform better because they apply legal principles from cases into the commercial aspect of the law. For example; as a commercial lawyer you may be advising a client on an employment issue. Before now, in terms of employment issues, the position was that an employer has the right to hire and fire without any reason, but now the position of the National Industrial Court is that as an employer you can terminate an employment contract but you have to give a valid reason. So, if I am a litigator and I also intend to delve into commercial practice, that experience will enable me advice my client in a more professional manner.

7.  Kindly share part of your experience in the university and the decisions that you made as an undergraduate that affected your success in the Legal Industry.

I had interesting days as an Undergraduate. I say so because I was an intelligent student. The most interesting moment for me was my second year, I think the first semester. I was adjudged the best student in contract law and gained public recognition among my colleagues. This motivated me to maintain the standard throughout my remaining years at the university.

Also, I participated in social activities at the University and did not hoard knowledge. I taught my colleagues on several occasions.

In terms of what assisted me in my legal career of today, I will say that the best decision I made was after my call to the bar. I told myself that I must have a blend of in-house and legal practice. I worked as an In-house counsel and with God’s favour and grace, I secured a job (immediately after the completion of the N.Y.S.C programme) with a commercial bank. So having worked for 9 years in the banking industry, I realized that I have had enough knowledge and experience and I needed to do something more challenging. So, I ventured into law practice. My decision paid off and I am immensely proud to say that I work at one of the best commercial law firms in Lagos.

Diverse Law Team

  • Philips Adekemi- Founding Partner, Diverse Law
  • Barnabas Madoghwe- President, Legal Personality Committee
  • Mosopeoluwa Tolani- Member, Legal Personality Committee
  • Damilola Fadeyibi- Member, Legal Personality Committee


Diverse Law Publications August 2, 2020


My name is Afolabi Caxton-Martins. I am a founding partner of the firm of Adepetun, Caxton-Martins, Agbor & Segun, also known as ACAS-Law. I was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1984 and ACAS-Law was founded in 1991. I come from a family of lawyers that influenced me. My late father was a former Chief Magistrate of Lagos State and his brother was late Justice Caxton-Martins of the High Court of Lagos State. Also, two of my sisters are lawyers.


I style myself as a corporate lawyer with a disputes background. Today most of my work involves advising clients on cross-border joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions, infrastructure projects particularly in the ports and terminals and telecoms space. In terms of my foreign investment work, I also advise on the related anti-corruption compliance. I mentioned earlier that I have a disputes background. I am a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and keep myself busy acting as counsel on interesting arbitral disputes.


In 1991, after almost seven years of pupilage, I felt it was time to move on and made a conscious decision to establish a partnership. I had a very clear vision of the type of practice I wanted and with good fortune, I was introduced to Sola Adepetun. We formed ACAS-law after discussing a possible collaboration for less than one hour. At the time Sola practiced as Sola Adepetun & Co. and his focus was banking and finance. We wanted a firm that could offer a diverse range of legal services with international standards, a modern full service corporate and commercial practice with capacity for large high value transactions, clearly distinguishable from a sole practice.


I enjoy challenging work. The more complex the transaction the greater the excitement. I find infrastructure projects particularly rewarding because of the nature of the work and the challenges it throws up in our peculiar environment and because of the public benefit a successful project has the potential to bring. With respect to my arbitration practice, I started out as a barrister and have always enjoyed advocacy. I halted my court work when we set up the firm and had monthly salaries to pay. The long delays in court ate significantly into my business development time so I stopped taking court cases and looked more to arbitration.


I think being a pro-arbitration country has contributed significantly to foreign direct investment in Nigeria. Sophisticated international businessmen need to be convinced that there is a legal framework for the industry to which their investment relates and that they will have access to justice in a reasonably timely manner with a level playing field. Unfortunately, it is well known that our courts are congested and that it takes years to resolve a dispute. Also, Nigeria’s notoriety for corruption has made resolving disputes in a Nigerian court unattractive. International dispute resolution with a foreign seat is the standard. I should mention that the investment protection laws in place are also an incentive.

On the flip side, one of the drawbacks has been the enforcement of arbitral awards. I hope that the good work that has been done to get Nigeria to be more pro-arbitration and to build up its arbitral institutions will not be eroded by the incessant challenges to international and domestic arbitral awards by the loser. The New York Convention to which Nigeria is a party sets limited grounds for setting aside an award, but it seems that it is almost automatic that an application to recognise and enforce an award will be challenged including by a government counterparty. Still, Nigeria is a hugely attractive market that cannot be ignored and investors seeking to do business here will seek to mitigate their risks as best as they can and dispute resolution through arbitration has helped to convince them to proceed.


‘Laughs’ well don’t believe everything you read online about me. – just the good things. No seriously, I certainly do not hold myself out as a shipping lawyer. We have a very active shipping group led by Mrs. Funke Agbor (SAN). So, any questions relating to Admiralty law and shipping in general should be directed to her. Although I do have basic knowledge of Admiralty law, enough to cross sell our services in that area. However, if instructed, it would not be me advising on cargo claims or the arrest or release of a vessel or on the drafting a ship mortgage. We have experts with deep sectoral knowledge for that.


Well, to be honest, I’m not sure that we fared very well. I think a large majority of people do not fully appreciate the value of their Intellectual property and the need to protect it. Perhaps what is needed is more effort to instill the importance of its benefits in our national consciousness through a national policy. There are various bill at different stages in parliament designed to provide us with a holistic and comprehensive set of IP laws which are modern and up to date. I think it is much more urgent now for us to progress the growth of IP as there is a new generation of entrepreneurs across the sectors who will be drivers and will help greatly to rebuild the economy. These young creatives must be protected.


It is evident that the courts are congested and not as efficient as they could be. Therefore, the need to continue to encourage alternative forms of dispute resolution seems the obvious and sensible thing to do. I think arbitration in the broad sense is very much a growth area including for low-value disputes. I would recommend any young lawyer that has an interest in disputes to take the courses and develop knowledge and skill in the practice.


The Covid-19 pandemic resulting in the shutdown of our administration of justice system has exposed its shortcomings but at the same time has prompted a serious debate on the importance of a policy and regulations that govern virtual court hearings. Leading lawyers and judges are now promoting remote court hearings and discussing the initiatives taken by countries such as the United Kingdom, India, Kenya, and Uganda to reopen under the Covid-19 lockdown conditions. And against the backdrop of this positive discourse, the Supreme Court has ruled that two virtual court proceedings held during the lockdown were not unconstitutional. I believe that the impact and certainly one of the legacies of Covid-19 will be that in the “new normal”  online dispute resolution for a variety of disputes increase and will be considered a cheaper, faster, more informal, and decisive way to resolve disputes.

Diverse law team

  • Mary Martins
    Founding Partner, Diverse Law
  • Philips Adekemi
    Founding Partner, Diverse Law
  • Chubiyojo Akagu
    Vice President, Legal Personality Committee
  • Oluwadamilola Fadeyibi
    Head of Research, Legal Personality Committee
  • Adedamola Adetula
    Editor-In -Chief, Legal Personality Committee


Diverse Law Publications July 8, 2020


Hi friends, I hope you’re staying safe and healthy. Remember to stay at home, if possible.

Quick introduction:

My name is Gomiluk Otokwala. You can call me Gomi. I am currently a Senior Counsel at the IMF in Washington, DC. I graduated from UNN in 2007 and the Nigerian Law School the next year. I joined Aluko & Oyebode after law school before proceeding to Harvard Law School for my LLM. After the program I took the New York bar exam and was later admitted to the bar in NY. Before joining the IMF, I worked for a law firm in Washington DC, directly after my LLM. While at the firm, I got an opportunity to return to Nigeria to work in the office of the DG of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). I later returned to Washington to join the IMF. As Philips and Mary have said about me, I graduated with first class at UNN and the Nigerian Law School — best graduating law student at UNN, and second overall best in my law school set. In fact, in my law school set, I found out I was the only one with double first class. It was my dream to graduate with those results and I was so excited to see my dream come true. But I didn’t stop there because you have to keep going. I’m from Rivers State and am happily married with two kids. So please feel free to ask any additional questions that can help your careers. I hope this inspires you to pursue your goals without giving up.


  1. Is a master’s degree highly important in working with top institutions like IMF? (Ayo from OAU)


  • Yes, a master’s degree in law is required to work as a counsel at the IMF and many international organizations that I am familiar with. They tend to require, as a minimum, a master’s degree or a JD degree, which is the American first degree in law. The JD, however, is a graduate-level degree (“postgraduate” degree, as we say in Nigeria).
  • Note that the required master’s degree does not have to be from a US or UK university. I imagine it helps to attend a good, well-known school.

  • Hi Gomiluk, did your sterling academic performances in University and Law School help in securing you a role at IMF? (Simeon from UNN)


  • Thanks for the compliments.
  • Grades help in many ways, especially at the beginning of one’s career. Good grades tend to be particularly important in helping you secure your first job. Of course, a good start can take you a long way.
  • However, if your grades are not what you hoped for, that should not stop you. You may just need to do a little more to prove yourself. At some point, your grades matter much less. Diligence pays in the long term.
  • Did my university grades help me get into the IMF? I don’t know, to be frank, but the grades are on my resume/CV – so whoever reviewed my resume may have formed an opinion that takes the grades into account.
  • To be clear, my grades helped me secure the first job. I was hired by Aluko & Oyebode based primarily on being the best graduating law student in my set at UNN. The firm awards a scholarship to the best law students at UNN, UNILAG and ABU, and generally offers each awardee a job as an associate.
  • I encourage people who are still in school to do their best to earn the best grade they can – aim for a first class always. If it doesn’t happen, that should not stop you from pursuing your dreams

  • I would love to understand how you were able to navigate law school and come out with a first class during your time? (Markanthony Ezeudo, Nigerian Law School)


  • As noted above, good grades can open doors or make your life easier, especially at the start of your career. If you are still in school, it is never too late to enhance your chances of making better grades, so now is the time to work for it.

  • These are some ideas to consider, based on my experience:

  • Start early. Some students wait until exams are around the corner before they start to prepare seriously. Some say they work best under pressure. That can be an excuse for laziness.  Trying to learn a lot in a short time is a risky formula. And it is not sustainable. Ideally you want to give yourself a lot of time to become fully familiar with the material.

  • Summarize your course material. For each subject, there are often many different materials — statutes, cases, rules of court, various textbooks, “handouts” and others. For each topic, try to synthesize information from all available sources, in a format that helps YOU understand and remember. Don’t rely on someone else’s summary, unless you can adapt it for your own use after reading the primary sources. In my time, I spent the chambers and court attachments summarizing the course materials and adding memory aids when possible.

  • Prepare for each class. Students often go to class to hear the lecturer talk and then read later. It is best if you study the topic in advance, attend class, and then read again.

  • Discuss the material. I found that having to talk about the course material helped me learn and remember it better. Find a way to “teach” a classmate or more. It is best if everyone has read the topic in advance and shows up with good questions or can chip in if you’re missing something. If you do this with someone who is not serious, that may only drag you backwards. During the two attachments, I had an arrangement like this with a classmate from uni. We took turns to teach each other. Back in uni, I had a serious “discussion group” and we all graduated with better grades than might have been possible studying alone.

  • Keep in touch with other campuses. Because NLS has many campuses with different lecturers, yet all students take the same exams, it is important to know what your classmates on other campuses are learning. I stayed fully in touch (not just during exam season), with my friends and classmates on other campuses. I was in Abuja and made sure we were not left behind compared to Kano, Enugu and Lagos students. There were four campuses at the time.

  • Practice past questions. This is always important, regardless of the exams. Make sure to start early; don’t wait till exams are near.

  • Cover the syllabus a few times. This helps to retain information better instead of “cramming” just for exams and running the risk of forgetting in the exam hall. Because I summarized a lot of my materials, covering an entire course a few times was easier.
    • Learn how to answer questions. Follow closely the instruction of your lecturers on how to present your answers. It is very important. Write in clear, short sentences.
    • Set your eyes on the peak and believe that you can. The hard work may not pay off if you do not have the ambition to succeed. I recommend aiming for the peak, a first class grade. If you aim for a 2’1, there is a chance you could slip even further. Aim for the highest score on every subject and tell yourself it is within YOUR reach.

  • What skill set should I have as a Lawyer who intends to practice international law? (Lauretta from Babcock)


These are some ideas in terms what you should be doing:

First, it is important to read a lot, from a broad range of sources. Don’t read only for exams, and don’t stop reading just because you have graduated. Follow international and local news; read history; follow developments in science and technology, politics, culture, the global economy. Be versatile.

  • Be curious. Don’t miss an opportunity to learn something new. If you hear about the Second World War, ask yourself what caused it. Google it.
  • Get a good education, the best you can find. The knowledge and exposure will come in handy many, many times.
  • Develop your writing skills. You need to be great at written communication. To achieve this, read good pieces of writing from reputable journals and newspapers, novels, biographies etc.
  • Develop your analytical skills.
  • Develop your personal relationship skills. Emotional intelligence is important in this area.

  • My friends in UK and US informed me that the legal markets are quite tight, and that securing a job as an Attorney is quite hard. Do you agree with this and what can I do to overcome this challenge? (Chioma from Nigerian Law School, Enugu Campus.)


  • This is somewhat true but should not discourage you. It is only a challenge that you can overcome. Nothing good comes easy anyway.
  • The challenge is that you have to try to qualify first in the foreign jurisdiction. Once you pass that hurdle, you prepare for the next challenge. A lot of people I know have done it. I know Nigerians, who received their LL.B degrees in Nigeria—and they’re now partners at the biggest law firms in the world.
  • I encourage people who go abroad for further studies to choose well known, highly regarded schools. That helps you as a foreigner trying to find a job.

  • I must confess I admire your profile. In employing lawyers, do foreign institutions and law firms place emphasis on grades from Universities or do they consider experience? (Ekenne from IMSU)


  • Thank you.
  • Every aspect of a candidate’s profile matters. Your grades, your experience, publications, interests and hobbies. It’s a total package.
  • So, the short answer is that your grades and experience are important, in addition to the other things.

  • I am a young lawyer in Nigeria, and I aspire to work in IMF or World Bank someday what should I start doing now? (Francis from UNIZIK)


  • Excellent question. These are some suggestions:
  • First, make sure you are performing well on the job at the moment (if you have a job already). Experience is important. Do your best to meet deadlines. Volunteer for additional work, if you can—don’t do the bare minimum. Develop a great relationship with your bosses and colleagues—they may need to recommend you. And build a good reputation among your clients and professional colleagues.
    • Develop important skills (See #4 above). One is writing. Clear written communication will take you far. To learn this, you have to read a lot of well-written materials, not just law-related ones. I recommend The Economist, New Yorker, New York Times, The Guardian (UK). Find well known local authors you admire. Chinua Achebe is one of my favorites.
  • Plan to do your master’s degree, if you haven’t. It is required. And aim to go to a good school.
  • Learn a language. You can start studying French or Spanish on your phone. It is not required but this can help broaden your perspective and help you stand out.
  • Continue to build a network. That’s how you get information and opportunities.

  • Was there any career setback you faced which later turned out as an advantage for you? (Ajibola from Bowen)


  • Thanks, Ajibola. That is a good question. Setbacks are a part of life.
  • In my case, I have not suffered any major career setback, thankfully. But I have not always ended up where I wanted to be.
  • After my LLM, I wanted to work for a top law firm in New York. However, because I graduated in 2010, firms were not really hiring because of the financial crisis.
  • A mentor put me in touch with a law firm in Washington, DC. I was hired and moved to Washington.
  • I fell in love with the city and became more familiar with the World Bank and the IMF. I eventually ended up at the IMF where I have been for the last seven years. My path might have been different if I had not come to Washington at that time.
  • Also, although I have always been employed, this doesn’t mean I have been hired every time I applied. After my LLM, I applied for a lot of jobs and wasn’t hired; sometimes, I didn’t even hear back. I had some interviews too with large multinational companies and one international organization that didn’t work out. But right now, I can’t imagine being anywhere better in my career.

  • How have you leveraged on technology in your role in the IMF? (Ajibola from Bowen)


  • Technology is at the core of how the world functions.
  • As you may know, much of the world is locked down at the moment. My IMF colleagues and I have been working from home for the last two weeks because of the Covid-9 pandemic. Yet the IMF is still fully functional because of tech.

  1. What personal attributes did you inculcate in achieving this great feat as a Lawyer? (Ajibola from Bowen)


  • Thank you. In answering one of the questions above, I made some suggestions in terms of what one can do beginning now (see #4).
  • One of them is to develop good relationships. I am always working on this. As you know, your reputation is very important.
  • I have always refused to just settle. I believe that life is about making progress.
  • Do your best in treating people well. Respecting others is important for professional success.
  • Do your best even when no one is watching. Developing a culture of excellence will always pay off.
  • Do more than is required. Go the extra mile. Doing the bare minimum will not help you in competing globally. In university, I went the extra mile of reading cases from the actual law reports, and summarizing them with appropriate headings. Many of my classmates used these case notes but there’s a difference between the person who read the primary material and the one who only read the summary. Going the extra mile helps you see how things are connected to one another and makes you more reliable.

  1. What motivates you as an international lawyer and a senior counsel at IMF (Ajibola from Bowen)


  • Thank you. I’d like to mention a few, and this is not an exhaustive list.
  • One is the desire to help make the world a better place through my work. I have always borne this in mind when making career choices.
  • Two is the understanding that I can be a source of inspiration for others, especially people from disadvantaged communities who doubt their ability to achieve their dreams, or to even dream at all.
  • Three – and this is the most important – my family. I think of success as a responsibility you owe both to yourself and to the people who invest in you, pray for you and look up to you. I’m using family in a broad sense. As a Christian, I believe that God has given us talents and expects us to apply them to improve the world, to make life better for ourselves, for others and for future generations.

  1. I was called to the Bar last year and greatly desire to work with international law firms such as Hogan Lovels, White and Case, Clifford Chance what should I do to make this aim come true? (John, a Kenya-based attorney)


  • Congratulations!
  • As noted above, do your best wherever you are at the moment. Let’s say you are an associate at a law firm, build a reputation for excellence among your colleagues (including bosses) and clients.
  • Continue to build your network. This is a topic on its own. One way to think about it is this: continue to add to the list of people who can speak for you and can count on you for support.
  • If you’re still at home, plan to go abroad (basically Europe or the US) for your LLM or foreign law degree. Try to go choose reputable schools.

  1. What International organisations do you recommend I join, and Courses I should take in developing my passion for International law? (Mary, C0-founder Diverse Law)


  • It is not clear to me what international organizations you have in mind.
  • In terms of courses, I recommend the EDx platform. There are many free courses.
  • Try to look into attending the Hague Academy of International Law. The summer program is a good place to meet other professionals across the world who share your passion for international law.
  • I recommend you consider learning a language. For example, you can download the Duolingo app and start learning French or Spanish.

You can email me when you begin to consider particular courses on the EDx or similar platform.

  1.  Good evening Sir. My name is Solafunmi. Thank you for the beautiful answers. My question deals with the path to having a successful career in International Law. Most of the stories I’ve come across as relating to working in international organizations are that you have to be recommended. My first question is on how you got in. And my follow up question is what do you need to have, what do you need to study to be able to work in that organization? Let’s say, the ICJ.


  • First, about being recommended, that is not true. I applied and I was invited to interviews
  • The second question is addressed in my written answers attached. But yes try to study courses that show where you’re trying to go in your career. International law is very important if you’re interested in this area

  1. Good day Mr Gomiluk and hello everyone. My name is Chijioke I’m a final year law Student. So I’m currently offering Public International Law as an elective, this is in response to my interest in International law. However, I also have an avid interest in IP/Tech law. My question is what are the opportunities available in the international community for a person like me. This is owing to the fact that IP isn’t really an international concern.


  • Hi Chijioke, there are international opportunities in In IP internationally. It’s mostly national, no doubt. But there are fora like INTA that try to create opportunities for countries to work together on IP protection.
  • Counterfeiting is a global problem and calls for global solutions.

  1. Welcome Gomi. Thanks for honoring our invitation. My question is this, is it a must a person study at the Ivy league schools to get to work in top organizations in the world?


  • Thanks, Mary. The short answer is NO. Not at all.
  • The longer answer is: try to attend a school that is well -known if you want to study abroad. Find a good school in the area of your interest. In the US, there are huge advantages you enjoy by being an alumnus of big-name schools. The alumni network is a major one. So, while the school doesn’t have to be Ivy League, it should not be a little known school that costs as much.
  • Find the best school you can. When I applied for the LLM program, I googled top 10 law schools in the world. I applied to the top 4.
  • The idea is to make your chances better especially since you’re coming from Nigeria. Does that answer the question?

  1. Sir, how about the relevance of tech law globally?? Are there opportunities globally for tech law enthusiasts??


  • Hi Chijioke, thanks. It is an evolving but highly relevant area. I’m not an expert but as far as I can tell, most of the International opportunities are in consulting and academia. It’s not a traditional area covered by current international organizations.
  • But the World Bank and I believe the UN are expanding rapidly in areas like. The IMF now also has a growing interesting in Fintech so yes there are opportunities. And there will be more in the coming years
  • Secondly, this question is more personal, I hope you don’t mind. Please I’ll like to know what made you decide to stay abroad. To decide to live Nigeria to relocate to Washington. This is owing to the current dilemma young professionals(lawyers) face, of either deciding to stay home or relocate abroad.


  • Thanks, Chijioke. For me, I didn’t try to leave Nigeria. As you can see in my introduction above, after my LLM and working a bit here in Washington, I returned to Nigeria. I have always followed opportunities.

  1.  Are there internship opportunities for Nigerian students at IMF?


  • Yes, the IMF has internship opportunities every year for students. I’ll share the link with you.

  •   Sir, please are there current internship. Opportunities for young law students in the IMF?


There is an annual internship program. I’ll share the link with Mary and Philips so they can post here. And you can share more widely.

  •  Obtaining foreign degree is highly expensive, kindly advise on how people from not too strong financial background can utilize?


  • Hi Philips, that’s a good question. Many schools in the US offer scholarships. NYU ( tends to give full scholarship to its LLM students. I know a few who didn’t have to pay anything. Harvard also gives a lot of scholarships

  • Good evening sir. My name is Deborah Marshall. My question is related to the process of being a legal practitioner in a foreign country. Sir what are the process to take if one is to become a lawyer in the US as a foreign national…and would international law be a section more preferable for such an individual.


  • Hi Deborah, yes international law is a course I always recommend. Always. But it is not always mandatory.
  • How to become a lawyer abroad. It depends on the country. In the US, you take the bar exam depending on the state. New York allows you to take the bar simply based on your LLB degree from a common law country

  • How can a practicing lawyer transit to pursuing a career in public policy particularly with international organizations like the World Bank?


  • It’s basically by applying. I was practising before joining SEC and later moving to the IMF. When we hire at the IMF, we ask for experience working in private practice, government or other intl organizations
  • Of course you need to be interested. And what we do at the IMF is law and policy, not just policy. Public International law, international financial law etc

  • In your view what’s the major criterion in securing a scholarship; grades, experience or both?


Grades can be useful in this area, yes. Cambridge and Oxford do have scholarships that tend to benefit first class students

  • Can undergrads be open to imf virtual internships?


  • I answered this above. It is best to check the webpage I posted above for internships. And look at other organizations too. Not just the IMF.

  • Sir, please the internships are only available for students who have an LLM.


  • That is one of the options. It may be best to go through the website. And look at other institutions that you may be interested in.


Thanks a lot, you all. Much appreciated. You can reach me by email. Please don’t give up on your dreams. There may be challenges but if you persist, you can reach wherever you want.


Diverse Law Publications July 8, 2020


Nathan is an international arbitration partner in Hogan Lovells’ and he co-ordinates their African disputes practice.

He has been involved in cases in Africa and West Africa, in particular for the past 13 years. He has travelled to Lagos many times and worked closely with a number of leading Nigerian law firms.

According to the Speaker, the opportunities for African legal practitioners in international arbitration have never been better. Currently, he is representing clients on two large arbitrations concerning disputes in West Africa and the Presiding arbitrator in each case is a Nigerian.

In the earlier part of 2019, he presented sessions at the inaugural African Arbitration Academy in London. This was a three week programme developed by the Association of Young Arbitrators in Nigeria for young lawyers from across Africa to attend training specifically on international arbitration. He further recommended that those who are not members of the Association of Young Arbitrators in Nigeria (AYA) should become members because it gives one a local network and insight in the international arbitration community.

The speaker further noted that the Lagos Court of Arbitration also has a young members group which again provides an opportunity to connect with other young lawyers interested in arbitration.

Accordingly, a great way to stay connected with developments in arbitration in the Africa region is to connect with the Africa Arbitration website. It provides regular email updates and features an arbitration personality of the month and future leader personality of the month so as to profile both seasoned arbitrators and up and coming young lawyers.

Nathan Searle is currently one of the global co-chairs for the Young International Arbitration Group of the LCIA (YIAG). The LCIA is one of the leading international arbitration institutions. It is very popular and many parties agree in their contracts to have their disputes decided by arbitration under the LCIA Rules. It is free to sign up to YIAG and details can be found on the YIAG page of the LCIA’s website.

YIAG has its own LinkedIn page and members are encouraged to join the conversation by posting comments on the page, which is moderated by the Co-Chairs. There is also the opportunity for YIAG members to contribute more academic articles to the well-known Kluwer Arbitration Blog, which is used by many arbitration practitioners.

Other international arbitration institutions that have young members groups include the ICC – ICC YAF, The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb) and the IBA.

ICCA also has a young group. This deserves a special mention because one of its immediate past co-chairs, Tolu Obamuroh was from Nigeria. Young ICCA also has a mentoring programme where it links young practitioners with more senior practitioners.

The speaker’s advice with respect to building a career in international arbitration is first to look around at the local institutions and groups to find out what is available. This is essential to be able to connect with others who share the same interest and can serve as colleagues and supporters as you build your career.

Then look more broadly at the Africa region. What are the organisations or platforms where I can publish or build a platform in West Africa or more broadly in the Africa region? Then look internationally at global organisations such as the LCIA, ICC, ICCA and IBA. This may seem intimidating at first to a young lawyer. This is why young lawyers’ groups of these institutions are so important.

You will often find that the leaders of these international institutions and organisations started early in their careers to invest in those networks and that this investment played a major role in their success.

The speaker as a Councillor on the LCIA African Users Council opines that these international institutions value their relationship with the Africa region. It is a region of growth and the international institutions are very keen to facilitate greater engagement by local African arbitration practitioners in international arbitration.

There are many leading African arbitration practitioners in leading roles in the international arbitration community. Many of these lawyers are from Nigeria. With organisations such as the Africa Arbitration Association promoting these leading lights of international arbitration their success stories are now receiving more attention. He recommends checking out the website of the Africa Arbitration Association as it features the profiles of many leading arbitration practitioners and gives insight into their different paths to success.


  1. What makes arbitration different from other areas of law?


Each arbitration case is so different. On one case I will dealing with a case about the shape of beer bottles in East Africa, on another costs associated with operating a uranium mine and a third might involve operation of an oil rig and a fourth operating a power plant.

With arbitration you have to become an expert in your client’s business and the issues in the case to such depth that you can cross-examine an expert who may have worked in the industry for decaded.

  • Likewise, with the recent developments in arbitration (as regards to the rules of arbitration), what makes arbitration different from litigation?


Arbitration also combines knowledge of the law and strategy. In particular, arbitration is more flexible than court proceedings so you have to choose what process you think is best for your clients and then persuade the arbitrators.

  • Do we have regional Arbitral Institutions in Africa from which one could learn the art of Multi-jurisdictional dispute resolution?


In arbitration you also get to pick the arbitrators who decide the dispute (which is a key strategic decision) which you can’t do in court litigation. about regional institutions, the Lagos Court of Arbitration and LACIAC both have good profile in the international arbitration community. The African Arbitration Association, Africa Arbitration are more regional and CIArb has very active local chapters in Nigeria.

  • Arbitration or litigation, which one is preferable?


Litigation is suited to some disputes, for example, tort claims (where there is no pre-existing contractual relationship) and class action. International arbitration is the preferred mode for resolving cross-border contract disputes because of its neutrality and the enforcement of awards under the New York Convention.

  • What opportunities do you get to enjoy as an arbitrator?


London is a very competitive market for arbitrators. As the size of the disputes are very large and there a significant number of practitioners it is generally the very senior practitioners who are appointed as arbitrators. In other jurisdictions such as France, Switzerland or Moscow it is much more common for younger practitioners to be appointed as arbitrators.

In West Africa I know that there are also more opportunities for young practitioners to be appointed as arbitrators as I know of several senior associates at law firms in West Africa that have had already had arbitrator appointments.

  • Where do you see international arbitration going in Nigeria, in the next five years?


I do see international arbitration growing in Nigeria in the next five years. Nigeria’s economy is diversifying and I expect increased flow of foreign investment into Nigeria. This will inevitably create some disputes. However, more importantly, I see Nigeria having the potential to become an arbitration hub for West Africa. As well as having leading senior arbitrators there is a large number of dynamic young lawyers following in their footsteps with a very keen interest in arbitration.

My prediction is that we will see an increased number of Nigerian arbitrators sitting in disputes that relate to the African region but have nothing to do with Nigeria. This is because Nigeria has experienced arbitration practitioners and the requirement for arbitrators to be neutral and independent leads itself opportunities to decide disputes outside your home jurisdiction.

  • Who has inspired you in your career?


In terms of who has inspired me in my career, John Davidson the former General Counsel of SABMiller, was an inspiration to me.

  • What do you look for in a prospective intern or junior lawyer?


International arbitration is a team sport – so when recruiting junior lawyers I look for someone who is a team player. Arbitration also requires someone who thinks strategically and is willing to think outside the box. Ability to communicate complex matters succinctly and logically both orally and in writing is also important. Most of all – there needs to attention to detail because everything I send out is being scrutinised by the other side to pick holes in it.


Thank you all so much for your thoughtful contributions. I hope that in the years ahead I come across many of you in Lagos or elsewhere doing international arbitration or pursuing successful legal careers in a different field.


Diverse Law Publications July 8, 2020


I want to say that the facilitators of this session started to set a trap for me since they thought about me speaking on the topic: “the role of internship in building a successful legal career”. I call it a trap because how can somebody who is yet to be a successful legal practitioner speak to an issue that accommodates ‘success in the legal profession’. But I later realised that the gravamen of the discussion will be on the role of internship in one’s sojourn to becoming a successful legal practitioner. The topics look the same but I feel more comfortable addressing the latter.

I am really excited about the privilege to speak on a topic that has to do with internship. This is because rather than learn from the mistakes of others in knowing valuable internships to undergo, I learnt from my own mistakes. As a result, I still nurture little regrets to not have started interning right from my year one as an undergraduate. I would have been better off and more exposed. But, here I am.


I would assume that everyone here already knows what internship is. About 5-6 years ago, the role of internship was not really felt. Because, only excellent grades used to be better off. So, you go to school, study hard and make your As. Finish with a first class and you are very likely to secure a placement with one of the best firms. Then, it was all about grades.

On the other side of the ring which is now, things have changed. Most employers, more than excellent grades, want to have a feel of what a prospective employee can do. One of such ways to ascertain this is through INTERNSHIP experience and this necessitates the question “what exactly are the roles of internship”.

As a matter of fact, undergoing internships help to know what side of interest one needs to throw more weight. Let’s say, for example, you have passion for corporate law or Energy and Natural resources, it will be unwise for you not to ascertain how passionate you are in your area of interest. Because a lecturer in school taught you few classes on Law of Business Association, you then conclude that your interest lies there. Such conclusion may cost you. As such, a functional dictate of reasoning would cause you to undergo internship in a corporate/commercial law firm or a firm whose practice areas accommodate Energy and natural resources. When you do, more than what you were taught in class, you would most likely see it from the practice perspective and be able to know whether the passion is still intact after your experience.

Undergoing internships in your area of interest, as an undergraduate, creates a rebuttable presumption that you have some knowledge on such area, hence, employers excitingly take solace in offering you the job because you are really not an amateur as opposed to your other colleagues who have only interned in the classrooms.

In recent years, more than excellent grades, some got offers from the best firms because of their internship experiences. An example that readily comes to mind is a friend of mine got offer in a law firm because he has interned in virtually all the biggest four auditing firms (PwC, KPMG, Deloitte, EY). As a matter of fact, he graduated with a 2.1 and applied for the same job with first class graduates but he got it because he effortlessly matched what they were looking for, just because of his internship experience.

Also, internship enlarges your line of connection. You meet other colleagues from other schools, you meet Associates and Senior Associates and even Partners, for the smart ones. For instance, I got internship placement in a law firm where I met another intern who studies in Scotland. We met and we became friends. She introduced me to one of her ideas where I really gained a lot from. She sends me often, fully sponsored conferences across the world. Also, I assist in writing personal statements, motivation letters and all. She introduced her friends who needed similar services and the pay was huge. All from INTERNSHIP! So, you would realise that right from your undergraduate years, you are already building international networks as a result of your internships

Buttressing further, quality internship experiences and an excellent grade both make you an irresistible applicant for jobs. For instance, University of Ibadan alone produced 21 first class last year. Let us assume that the 21 of them applied for a role in a law firm, it is very likely that first class graduands with internship experience have better chances to be employed. More than the cramming and pouring, the beauty of the legal profession lies in one’s ingenuity in rendering quality advise in solving client’s problem. Internship provides this skill. Because, for a fact, everyone here including myself would just want the international exposure which may lead to what is indigenously and popularly known as ‘japa’

Internship exposes you to International Best Practices and the professional culture, even as an undergraduate. You would be surprised to see some graduates of law compose a mail and such mail is worn with unforgivable mistakes, which ordinarily should be punished with life imprisonment if it was an offence. It is really sad! Some undergraduates of law learnt the art of writing a faultless mail while interning. People have got jobs because of the manner they couch their mails and vice versa. Just imagine someone sending out a mail to the Human Resources Manager and writes “Dear HR,”. Please what is the meaning of HR o? Head of Research? It tells so many things about the person sending the mail. A quality internship experience would heal this professional deficiency


Notably, as much as internship can help in building a successful legal career, it can also mar such career. This is because impression really matters in the legal profession and the profession is a small circle. Some never got employment in a law firm because of the impression they imprinted while they were there. So, it is important to note that while interning in a law firm, one needs to thread carefully.


Diverse Law Publications July 8, 2020


Adejoké Babington-Ashaye is a Senior Counsel at the World Bank, the Wasserstein Fellow-in-Residence at Harvard Law School, and Co-Chair of the 2020 ASIL Annual Meeting. She provides capacity-building training for national prosecution and investigation of international crimes through the Wayamo Foundation. Adejoké has worked at the International Court of Justice on the settlement of state disputes and at the International Criminal Court as an investigator. She is the co-editor and author of International Criminal Investigations: Law and Practice, and founder of Konseye: The Mentorship Network. 

Adejoké holds an LL.B. from the University of Buckingham and an LL.M. in Public International Law from the London School of Economics. She is a qualified Attorney in the State of New York and a musician-activist with SongRise – a women’s social justice a cappella group that uses music to inspire social change. Her debut album was released in 2016. Follow Adejoké on Twitter @adejokemusic.


  1. How can Students break into the International Legal Market?


Great question. I think the starting point for a student is education. I like you to picture international law like a tree. With a tree you have the trunk and then many branches. The trunk of international law is the foundation – the root – and it is important for students to understand this. The core principles and the sources of law, who are the subjects of international law and so on.

Then you have the branches – and that’s where we go into specializations of international law. It is vital to ensure that you have a sound basic knowledge of principles of international law by taking a course or two on that subject matter. Without this foundation it can be hard (never impossible) to transition into this field. So what does this entail? I would suggest taking a general international law course where you would learn principles such as state responsibility, jus cogens, customary international law, the formation of treaties, obligations erga omnes and so on. I am not going to go into details about what these mean because you can easily look them up. Also I’m going to share a resource link that could be a good starting point.  You can take such a course either at university (undergraduate level) or if it is not offered then at masters or postgraduate diploma level.  With such a foundation I believe that you are in a good position to then branch into other aspects of international law (for instance international human rights, international transactions, international investment law and so on).  These types of international law are known by the latin term (since we Nigerians like Latin ) – lex specialis (specialized law).  But I would say that a good solid foundation in lex generalis (law governing general matters of international law) is a great starting point to break through.

  • Are there Internship opportunities for African Students at the World Bank?


Yes – there are internship opportunities for everyone, including Africans, at the World Bank. If you are interested in interning at the World Bank the first thing I would suggest you do is go to the website to understand how the Bank is structured and see which units are doing work that interest you. A lot of times students come up to me and express interest in working in the legal department because they think that is the only place lawyers can work. But that is not true – there are lawyers at the Bank working on issues of governance, rule of law focused projects, or working on internal justice matters (like I am) or working on anti-corruption in the Integrity Department.  All these are completely separate units and departments from the Legal Department of the World Bank.  So check out the following links:

  • – for links to the different units and organigram of the World Bank.
  • – World Bank legal department
  • – World Bank Legal Internship program
  • – General World Bank internship program

I would say that you should never be afraid to apply even if you are unsure. Yes, it may seem daunting but there are many Africans who work at the World Bank both at the Headquarters in Washington, DC but also in one of the many hundreds of country offices.  It is important to be strategic and even consider how you can do an internship at the World Bank office in Lagos or Abuja.

  • What are the skills an International Lawyer should possess?


  1. Excellent research skills – these are important because even if you do not know by heart an area of law you should have a good idea of where to find the information.
  2. Good understanding of the hierarchy of laws and which law is persuasive in a particular jurisdiction.
  3. Good negotiation and mediation skills – even if you do not do negotiations or mediations for a living, these skills are extremely vital for your work as an international   lawyer. For instance, you could be working with senior diplomats and judges and would need to gently persuade them on aspects of the law.
  4. Good advocacy skills You may be involved in Oral Communication. Language is one of the most fundamental tools of a legal professional.
  5. Excellent written communication and legal drafting.
  6. Excellent analytical and logical reasoning.
  7. Time Management and flexibility.

  • Ma, Is a Foreign degree an advantage to working in World Bank or any International organization?


Great question! A foreign degree is not required. What is required, and what you may often see on the job vacancy announcements is a “degree from a recognized university.”  So what does that mean? Basically a well-known University. The unfortunate reality is that many people involved in Human resources in international organizations may not be very familiar with some of the very good universities worldwide and there could be an element of discrimination involved. Whenever I am involved in recruitment I always make an effort to ensure that people are selected based on merit not necessarily because they attended a foreign university.

There are indeed many people who don’t have degrees from quote on quote foreign universities who end up making it at these international organizations so please do not let that deter you

What matters the most are the following:

  1. Being able to showcase academic knowledge and
  2. Experience

There is more and more a concerted effort to ensure that there is more inclusivity in recruitment.

  • Ma, what foreign university would you advise so as to have great knowledge on International law?


There isn’t any particular foreign university I would advise you to attend to have a great knowledge on international law. International law can be taught anywhere – you don’t need to go abroad for that. What matters is getting a good foundation which you can get. Please also know this – what is foreign for you is domestic for someone else. So while UK and US may seem to be the desired places to travel to, this is absolutely not necessary. You can get great international law professors in Nigeria (see for example the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies) or even regionally within Africa

Also there are online resources and I mentioned this earlier. One resource is the United Nations Audio visual library. This is a great resource for those seeking to understand some foundations of different aspects of international law:

Please check it out – you have videos and resources done by different international law experts including Nigeria’s very own – Olufemi Elias who is current Assistant Secretary General of the UN and Registrar of the UN International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals.

  • Ma, in recruiting interns and Employees in International organizations is there a strong emphasis on grades?


For internships – yes.

With several years of experience the grades become less relevant since  you have your experience and references to show that you can do the work. Sometimes, people do understand that the grades aren’t all that matter. And so if there are interviews for internships it would be important to showcase personality, motivation, ability to do the work and so on.

  • Hello, I am studying a more niche area of International Law (International Children’s Rights) and I would appreciate any advice you may have on ways to use my degree within the Nigerian context.


Ok so International children’s rights would be one of the branches of public international law. Within the Nigerian context your field of law is definitely very relevant in the Nigerian context. There is increasing focus on the rights of children – there’s the African Protocol on the Rights of the Child. The ECOWAS Court of Justice some years ago found Nigeria to have violated the right to education and so on – so this is an exciting field of law you can practice in Nigeria working with NGOs/civil society organizations as well as within the ministry of justice (if you so want).

Some general tips I would give are:

  1. Don’t overspecialize too early. It is important to “diversify your portfolio” as an international lawyer. What does that mean? For instance, even if you’re interested in oil and gas don’t focus only on that. Think about natural resources, environmental law and other things that are connected. This gives you a good platform from which you build yourself up further. Also, because of the nature of the job market right now.  So also in your case Anita for example – it’s excellent you’re doing International Children’s Rights. Think broadly to also incorporate other general aspects of human rights law, development and so on so that you have a diversified practice while also doing the things you love.
  2. Think broadly about international law practice. A lot of times people think that to practice law means you have to work in a law firm. I personally have never worked (yet) for a law firm. I did a few mini-pupilages while I was still doing my undergraduate degree. But in the 17 years post my LLM degree I have practiced international law in international organizations.

  • Ma as fresh wigs, what are the things you will advise us to do to improve our prospects at excelling in the legal profession and being relevant on international platforms. Like Courses to take, things to pay particular attention to e.t.c.


Thanks for this question. Please see the general tips above. In addition, I would say try to write articles/blogs on different international law topics.

So for example – is anyone aware that Gambia just filed a case against Myanmar for genocide at the international court of justice? This is a landmark case that an african country has brought a case against another country alleging violations of obligations erga omnes (obligations owed by a state to the whole world).

It would be a good idea to follow this and maybe write on a blog or a Linkedin post. Don’t be afraid to start small. Little drops eventually make an ocean as they say.

Also – please know that Africa is making IMMENSE contributions to international law! So have a look at some of the African initiatives out there as well. Getting involved in regional initiatives on international law is also a great way to get your foot in the door.

Final point – for those who are interested in international arbitration and trade, please know that there is a shortage of Africans in this field. What do I mean? This field is still being monopolized by the global north.  It is important for more Africans to think about ways to influence the discourse in this field of law as well

So a good starting point for students, young graduates is to follow the developments of the law, see how you can contribute some critical thinking, consider any internships you can do at regional or domestic organizations that have an international law focus

By the way check out the African Institute for International Law in Arusha, Tanzania –

For those who like debating, and are still students – there is the African Moot Court competition hosted by the University of Pretoria in South Africa:

Alright – so some folks asked me my opinion on certain state of affairs issues. I’ll try my best to answer them in a minute however, I’m also keen to hear from you guys what your interests are and what challenges you have faced so far.

  • Hello Ma, please I’m currently studying Public international law at undergraduate level and also taking Health law. I was wondering what are the possible prospects of mixing the two courses together later in future cause I’m passionate about both areas of law?


Great to hear from you and excellent question. The prospects are VERY VERY GOOD! So there is a huge movement right now to respect access to health care as a human right.

And this is actually entrenched in certain international legal instruments. So developing a career that connects public international law, global health, sustainable development, human rights is a very good way to “diversify your portfolio”

I would suggest starting to do some research on the connection between health law and international law.

You will find a lot of resources out there even using websites like SSRN where people publish their articles. Most cases you can download articles for free.

  1. Hi Ma. Thanks for the enlightening lecture. I have a keen interest in public international law, arbitration and human rights. How do I merge this interest?


So for those who are interested in these fields of international law, here are some articles you can read about the interconnectedness of these fields:

So I think it is important for people to see that areas of international law are not mutually exclusive. For instance, there is a whole body of law and focus on business and human rights. Often times there are arbitrations (state to state, investor/state and so on) that concerns issues of human rights violations.

Yes, there are some areas of law that may be difficult to immediately see the connection. So if for example I saw that I want to practice international investment law and counter-terrorism that may seem like – er…what is she talking about?  But there are issues that arise in these fields of law that are connected. See for example this article that talks about foreign direct investment that may be affected by political risk and terrorism:

Also – please know that your PRACTICE of international law can have multiple layers. What does this mean? Your day job could be in a law firm practicing international arbitration. And then you do pro bono litigation for civil society organizations on human rights. And then you do capacity building training on counter-terrorism. You are PRACTICING different aspects. You are being essentially what this group calls you to be: DIVERSE.

So don’t think that you can do only one thing because you are endowed with gifts and talents that can be used in all aspects of law and specialization.

  1. I am just all scared. When I hear anything about international law, presently studying some international laws, like maritime law, international arbitration and the likes, I aspire the desire, to be out there in these fields, yet it seems unattainable. Your CV for example, what you’ve attained and what you are, all seem unattainable. My mind is too tiny to grasp this.


Thanks so much for your honesty. In reality, it can be scary and I too was very scared when I started off my career just like you. There were many times in my life that I did not know what I was going to do next. The one thing I knew for sure was that I did not want to practice commercial law! haha! So I kept exploring. It is only now that one can look back and say oh wow – look how far I have come. But I did not come this far on my own and it is a journey that you don’t take alone – you have people to support you. I wouldn’t be where i am without the support of my family.  And even then – where am I? I am literally just like you – so anything i have accomplished so far you can accomplish and much more. Also, why be like me – when you can be exactly what YOU have been called to be? We are all here to support each other!

I will use this opportunity to share some advice I often give students I speak to and also put on the ATLAS interview that was shared earlier:

“Embrace fear. I have learned that it is ok to feel fear so long as I do not let it take over. Surround yourself with honest cheerleaders who will tell you as it is but are cheering you along the way. They are your anchor.   Also, whether you are starting your career, facing a mid-life crisis, seeking to pivot, or considering other opportunities, think about your Plan A, Plan B and Plan C and ensure these are in the realm of what you love to do and what makes your heart sing. I like to think of my Plan A as the “stars” – something that gets me excited to jump out of bed in the morning.

I imagine what my day would look like and even though things may be challenging, doing such work – whatever it is – is immensely fulfilling. I envision my Plan B as the “sky.” It is like winning second place in the 100 metres race and the winner was Usain Bolt. It is not the “stars,” but it is pretty darn good (I could never beat Usain!), and I’m developing skills that are useful for my “stars.” Finally, Plan C represents the “clouds.”

While it may not be my first or second choice, the clouds represent a cushion – a good, enjoyable base from which I can develop necessary skills which are transferrable to my Plans A and B. The cushion enables me to do side projects or provides a good work-life balance while I work towards my Plans A and B. My Plan C should never be work that I hate – this would be doing my soul a great injustice. “

  1. Hello! Thank you for taking out the time. I’m currently studying a masters in International Human Rights Law and Practice, could I kindly get your thoughts on routes to working and gaining experience in organizations like the ICJ, ICC or world bank – or other international organizations. Thank you!!


Sure. I love talking about the ICJ and ICC because those are two places I worked at. I’ve mentioned paths to the world bank before please see the earlier posts.

On the ICJ I would recommend a solid knowledge of public international law. That’s very important. So the ICJ deals with things like state responsibility and disputes between countries. These disputes could concern human rights issues or even diplomatic immunity matters and so on and so forth. I remember when i worked there it was very exciting because one case could concern a fight between Nicaragua and Colombia over the sea and natural resources and we suddenly had to start learning and applying the law of the sea and then another case was a boundary dispute between Nicaragua and Costa Rica and then suddenly applying boundary delimitation rules and looking at customary international law and applying the laws of treaty interpretation

So it was very very exciting. So it is important to showcase a solid foundation in international law and ability to juggle and multitask. There are internship opportunities at the ICJ so please check out the website.

On the ICC, having a background in human rights is also useful. I would suggest knowing some foundational issues of international criminal law as well (so issues such as understanding the core international crimes – war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide) and then the crime of aggression. I am happy to do a session in the future on these issues in international criminal law if there is specific interest.

  1. Are there volunteering opportunities? Or places we can stand as national delegates?


Yes, there are many opportunities where you can volunteer, in Nigeria and also regionally as a start. I’m not sure what you mean by national delegates though. I don’t know your current situation. You can reach out to the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies for example to see if there are any internship opportunities or opportunities to volunteer and support any of their conferences.

This could be a good way to familiarize yourself with the international law issues they are dealing with.


  1. You are MORE THAN ABLE to achieve your dreams! Believe in them and trust that they will materialize. Even if you don’t know where you are going, trust that you are predestined to make a great impact in the world and keep on searching. For those who believe in a higher being – trust that all things will work out so that you can have an impactful career and life.
  2. In international law it is important to speak and understand more than just English. So please, please, try to learn an additional language. French and Spanish are two important ones. And I know it may seem unlikely for us Nigerians to speak more languages beyond English and our own languages but there are Nigerians out there speaking multiple languages so please try – even use YouTube or other resources online that are free.


Naija no dey carry last! And you all won’t either! Have a wonderful end of the year and may 2020 bring amazing new opportunities in your lives. God bless!!


Diverse Law Publications July 8, 2020

Good evening Ladies and Gents!

It’s an honor convening today’s expository session

I am BAMIDELE Temidayo Samuel

We hope you enjoy as you ride with us!✨🤗

If you’re available to learn and Understand the basics

Know you’re not alone.

Ladies and gentlemen, please let us all every other messages till I make an open invitation for questions. This way, we can avoid distractions as we hear from our guest.

Without much ado, I would like to introduce our guest: Wola Joseph

She is the pioneer Chief Legal Officer and Company Secretary at Eko Electricity Distribution Plc (EKEDP). She has worked in the energy sector, a leading law firm and a financial institution, among others.

Some of the institutions where she has left an indelible mark include the Harvard Electricity Policy Group, leading Corporate and Commercial law firm Banwo & Ighodalo and Lagoon Home Savings and Loan company.

I’m happy to tell you that she is an alumnus of my alma mata, University of Ibadan.

In the year 2019, Wola was ranked 11th out of the top 50 General Counsels in Nigeria by the LKS Seminars’ Legal Year 2019 Magazine.

Wola Joseph is also a member of various International Professional Organizations which include the American Bar Association, Nigerian Lawyers Association, USA, Harvard, African Law Association, Harvard Women’s Lawyers’ Association and the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators, UK

Need I say more?

Please welcome Wola Joseph!

Ma’am, a few people have asked what energy law entails. I would like you to shed some light on this.

Also, as a follow up question is ‘Which certifications does a lawyer need to follow this path?’

—Temi Popoola

“Energy Law is a field of law majorly concerned with the policies and legal framework which guides the harnessing of energy and mineral resources such as crude oil, natural gas, coal, tar, sands and renewable energy resources including hydro, tidal, geothermal fuel, wood, solar, wind, biomass etc for commercial and economic benefits.

It also covers all aspects connected with government paticipation, regulation, licensing and taxation of operations in the energy space.

However, in the Nigerian context, especially from academic and legal practice perspectives, Energy Law coers areas such as oil, gas, power and mining. These areas are knitted both directly and indirectly.

For example we have very strong ties between gas and power, especially because most of the power generation stations in Nigeria are fired by gas.

The power sector constitutes one of, if not the major demand center for natural gas and this relationship has led to the concenption of a distinct focus area commonly referred to as “Gas to Power””

“Follow-up question: There is currently no central certification for Energy Law practice in Nigeria as obtainable in other areas of law such as tax, labour, employment, company secretarial services, etc, and this is understandable because of the broad nature of this field of law. However, there are different trainings and certificates issued by some firms and institutions on various aspects of energy law. In addition, a good way to develop in-depth knowledge of Energy Law is to undertake a specialized master’s degree in this field”

—Wola Joseph

Thank you. Speaking about the basics of energy law, could you please run us through the process of a typical power transaction and the role that a lawyer usually plays?

Perhaps you could link this to what you do at EKEDC, to narrow down the question.🤩

—Temi Popoola

“The process of a typical power transaction would depend mainly on the nature of the transaction. Is it a power purchase transaction? Is it power distribution transaction? Is it a use of system or use of network transaction? or is it a power generation transaction?

However, as a baseline, most power projects/transactions should be kick-started with a Non-Disclosure agreement and/or a non-binding term sheet.

The core/definitive agreement for the particular transaction will then be fashioned to meet the peculiarities of such transaction.

“It is also important to mention that the operations and activiites in the power section are very regulated. Apart from the agreements executed for power transactions, investors and operators are required to obtain different licences and approvals from the government and regulatory bodies before they can legally commence operations.

Most transactions in the power sector in relation to power generation, transmission, electicity bulk trading and electricity distribution all require obtaining relevant licences from the regulator, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (“NERC”).”

—Wola Joseph

If you’re following;

It’s question time!!!✨

Interesting  Thank you for sharing. I would take a few steps back and ask you, ‘What motivates you as an energy lawyer?’

Also, there are many law students here who want to become like you (energy lawyers). Could you please recommend associations that they could join early?

What motivates me as an energy law? The desire to make a impact. The power section in Nigeria has suffered for so many years. Permit me to throw in some statistics here:

“1) Most countries whose economies are to be reckoned with on the planet generate above 2000 KwH of electricity per person per year (Per capita). This is a low threshold (C minus grade for pwer supply). i.e South Africa and the US in 2018 were about 4,430 KwH per capita and 13, 638 KwH per capita respectively. Nigeria was about 170 KwH per capita (9% of the C minus level). The severity of this shortfall is not news to all of us here. I am sure over 70% of those here are running on generators as we “speak”.

2) As Nigerians know, an economy cannot grow rapidly without considerable growth in electricity supply. It will not happen. Imports will undercut our sales.Diesel costs will erode our profits. Our costs will increase to a point where customers cannot afford our goods.

This is what motivates me as a Power lawyer. The desire to change the narrative. To change the direction.

Regarding the associations to join, I would recommend that the students join the Energy Law club in their respective universities, and/ or the Energy Club. To be a grounded Energy lawyer you need to be comfortable with the technical aspects of energy.

For working lawyers, i would recommend: 1) Lawyers in oil and Gas Network; 2) The Energy, Natural Resources and Environment Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association – Section on Business Law; 3) Association of Internation Petroleum Negotiators.”

—Wola Joseph

Wow! Insightful 

Ladies and gentlemen, please get your questions ready because there would be an opportunity to ask our guest after she responds to this last question: 

Any words of advice for law student and young lawyers?

“I would say they should stay focused. They should have a deep thirst for knowledge. They should quickly identify mentors.

“They shoud Identify role models. Role models are different from mentors. To have good mentors, you have to also be a good mentee. They should seek feedback to help close performance gaps and develop key skills.

They should take advantage of all developmental opportunities thrown at them.”

—Wola Joseph

Thank you, Wola. Your words mean a lot to us.

I know that some people have already found a new role model (or perhaps, mentor) this evening.😁

The floor is now open to participants to ask questions. It would be nice to mention your name before your question.

Question One;

I am Tommy Oladeji.

I have two questions.

1.Why doesn’t there seem to an end to or better still, a palpable improvement to the power problem in Nigeria.

Second, what role do Discos and Gencos play in the power industry?

That’s a difficult question to answer in a forum like this. Please note that this is my personal opinion. Nigeria is currently in a vicious cycle that raises the possibility that we will not have adequate grid supply of electricity for another 30 years. The vicious circle which began since 2006 (14 years ago) runs in the following steps:

1) the electricity section cannot pay full for the gas it receives or for the equipement upgrades it needs to increase efficiency.

2) Investors are not encouraged to invest in the additional capacity needed to increase electricity and gas supply because they aren’t assured of reliable returns on investment

3) the electricity industry becomes less viable because the price of gas is generally based on contracted dollar value while electricity is sold in naira

4) some of the cheapest souces gas in Nigeria are developed for export, leaving the more expensive fields for domestic developement.

5) there is a need for a tariff increase to take the industry to a profitable status but at best, what we are to get is only enough to get us back to square one. Not to make the industry profitable, but to minimize loses.

I can go on . . . but these are some of the critical broader economic issues i would like to lay here.

“Generation companies (Gencos) generate power which pushed to the transmission company. Whilst Distribution Companies (Discos) distribute the power to the end users after stepping down the voltage received from the transmission company to a lower voltage that can be accomodated by our appliances at home.”

—Wola Joseph

Question Two:

Is it possible for a Lawyer to practise all the genres of Energy Law or would you advise specialisation?

“In my opinion it is possible. But it would be difficult to be a master in any one because Energy Law is extremely broad.”

—Wola Joseph

Question Three:

Good evening everyone, I’m Oluwatosin Ogunlana.

Thanks to Diverse Law for the platform, thanks to Temi for moderating this session in a well coordinated manner and to Wola for sharing so much with us from her wealth of knowledge.

On career prospects for lawyers in Energy Law, I am particularly concerned about the future of career prospects considering the introduction of Eligible Customers. Seeing the apparent threat it poses to the business of Distribution Companies (DISCOs) as expressed by different actors in the industry.

From your end Wola do you foresee any negative or positive impact on legal career in the energy industry.

On the negative impact (if any), how would you advise lawyers to reposition themselves to avert any possible negative impact?

On the positive impact, what are the likely opportunities and how would you advise lawyers to take advantage of it?

Thanks to everyone once more.

“You are right that the Eligible Customer’s regulations pose some threat to the business of a the DIscos but I don’t quite understand the correlation to the career propects of lawyers in Energy law.”

—Wola Joseph

Thank you joining today’s session!

We’ve successfully come to the end of the session…

Let’s hear from the Lightbearer of the insight for her concluding words😌

Thanks to everyone that participated in this session.

Many thanks to Wola for creating time for this session . The Diverse Law Board appreciates this ma.

Thanks to the moderator of the session.

God bless you all

—Mary Martins