- Can we meet you?
My name is Temiloluwa Oladele and I generally go by Temi.
- What do you do?
Primarily, I do tax consulting and outside of that, I advise on data protection and intellectual property.
- How did it feel moving from a full-service law firm and traditional law practice to one of the big fours?
I always knew I was going to leave law practice, at least the traditional law practice in a law firm. Sometimes, your plans go how you want and sometimes they not. My plan was always to practice in a law firm for about three years and then decide where I want to go next. While I was working in the traditional law firm setting, I was already positioning myself towards working in consulting, in-house and the tech environment. So, moving from a traditional law firm setting to a tax consulting firm was not strange or difficult for me because I already positioned myself while working in the traditional law setting. I was doing legal tax advisory and tax representation in courts and at the Tax Appeal Tribunal. It was more like moving into a specialized field in what I was already doing. A more focused experience.
- Will you say that your law degree played a major role in your present career choice?
Yes. My first exposure to tax was when I was studying law. I joined The Tax Club at the University of Lagos. Basically, about 70% of tax is law. It is really about what the law says and provides. The lower percentage is accounting for tax but the crux of what a tax consultant does is answering “what does the law say? How do we take advantage of what the law says? How do we comply with the provisions of law on tax? So, having a law degree makes it easier for you to be a tax consultant. Your understanding of it is clearer and broader because you understand the principles of law. My law degree is still playing and will continue to play a big role in my career.
- Data protection is a remotely new area in law and has not really been explored. So, can you briefly tell us what it entails?
Data protection is relatively new but has always been part of our environment. It is just the formalization that is new in Nigeria. In 2019, the Nigerian Data Protection Regulation was published, and it is the codification of the principles of data protection. Essentially, when you have identifiable data/information about somebody, that person should be able to control the information you have about him and before you are given the information, you should at least let him know what you are going to use his information for. Simply, there should be rules guiding how other people can use identifiable information about a person. Information can be anything and it is important that you are able to control who has access to your information and what they do with it.
- If you could go back in time as an undergraduate law student, what would you do differently?
I would do more extracurricular activities. Exposure outside of the classroom is really what makes you exceptional, in my opinion. Anyone can get grades but what really distinguishes you in today’s world is what you do outside the classroom, the people you speak to, the people you meet, the kind of activities you engage yourself in. It is what really distinguishes you. I did a bit of those, but I wish I did more. So many law students do not understand the current market for law students. When I was in the university studying law, I was not quite exposed to the possibilities in law. Although I heard people say that you can do a lot of things as a lawyer, I did not understand really what those options were. I would say 80% of us just wanted to graduate with good grades and work in a law firm. That was the dream but there is so much asides that. So, I wish I better explored the possibilities outside academics at the time.
- How possible is it for a law student or a young lawyer to balance academics and career with social life?
In my opinion, it is perfectly easy. I am not really a fan of very tedious settings so regardless of how daunting work is, I always find time to have fun. It has never been difficult for me. When I was working with a law firm, pre-COVID, I worked till 11pm on most days but despite that, I still had a social life. It depends on you as a person. In today’s world, it is quite essential for you to have a social life because many of the grounds you break as a person, in terms of achievements, do not always come from the formal setting. People are more relaxed in social settings and so they can give you opportunities you never realized you could have. I play football and some people I have met while playing football are people who were so high up in industries like telecommunications, tax, law practice, etc. I do not see social life as extra, I see it as part of a person’s life.
- Asides from pursuing a career in core law practice, what other opportunities do law students have?
I think the question should be “what opportunities do they not have?” because it is so wide and I don’t even think I can possibly cover enough of the opportunities you have as a law student, but I would say outside of the traditional law practice, that is, working in a law firm, you can work in consulting and consulting alone is so big. There is management consulting, tax consulting, audit, financial advisory, etc. There is investment banking and its related fields. There are legal services for any industry, in the medical line, in tech – and well tech is very wide. There is Fintech, physical engineering, software developments, hardware developments, etc. and for everywhere you turn, there is always a need for lawyers. Every society needs law and lawyers are needed to advise on the law. For example, if we are looking at software development, every day, someone somewhere is coding or developing a new app or website and that person needs to protect what they code, the business aspect of what they do, they need to approach people to invest in their business if they want to go big, they need to hire people to work for them and all these things are governed by law. In any aspect of life, lawyers are needed so opportunities are limitless. As a lawyer, you learn on the job. Sometimes, you may need to take some professional courses in other areas. Law gives you the confidence and the broadened mind on how to approach issues and solve problems. As a lawyer, you can do almost anything. Well, except maybe perform a surgery.
- What is your advice to undergraduate law students?
Shoot for things and opportunities. The first thing you should know is that you can do anything. This is not some head-in-the-clouds motivational speaking. I say this based on what I have seen. Believe in yourself. Believe that you can do it because if you don’t believe, you will not be able to convey that confidence to other people. If you believe you can do something, you will do it. Don’t close your mind to anything. While you are in school, take up internships, do a lot of things outside the classroom, meet people, volunteer. You should get good grades because it gives you an advantage but do things outside the classroom because they broaden your mind and distinguish you. Learn soft skills.
The team members are
Oluwadamilola Fadeyibi, Vice President of Conveners and Legal Personality Committee.
President, Conveners and Legal Personality Committee.