Oyeyemi Aderigbigbe is the Chair of the Young Lawyers Forum of the Nigerian Bar Association – Section on Business Law (NBA-SBL) and a Senior Associate at a leading Nigerian law firm, Templars. Ifeoluwa Ogunbufunmi spoke to her about building capacity and accelerating self-awareness in young Nigerian lawyers.
“Grit and determination will get you far, but self-awareness and intentionality augment the quality of experience you have and help you make better decisions. I sell this template every chance I get to speak to a young lawyer,” says Aderigbigbe.
Her motivation to influence the next generation of lawyers stems from personal professional experience.
“From time to time, I take stock of my career, assessing growth, impact, and more importantly, what I call my value quotient – which are the career choices I can make based on the value I perceive in myself or the value I can give someone else. My value quotient must be augmented year-on-year to enable me to stay relevant within my organisation and the legal market.
“Many young lawyers struggle to make this connection between personal and organisational sync and so the tales of woe are many.”
Aderigbigbe believes that young lawyers are the biggest influences in the legal services industry today.
“They carry a magic wand and much more value than they realise.”
She believes that many legal service firms would do better, commercially, if their young lawyers realised this and honed the skills to deliver more value.
On her work as the Chair of the NBA-SBL Young Lawyers Forum, she says, “At the beginning of the year, my team and I had a list of all the international collaborations and physical engagements we would like and the programmes and mentoring sessions we would run. But Covid-19 happened, and we had to make necessary adjustments.”
“We augmented our online presence immediately. We set up a system where we had career-enhancing conversations on topical themes with sterling professionals and young lawyers. We’ve had about 25 of these sessions with attendance rising as high as 400 people in one session. These numbers would probably not have been achieved within this time, if not for the pandemic. We also started online editorials where young lawyers can write and be published across our social media platforms to give further expression to their skills development.”
A highlight of her work, Aderigbigbe says, has been the development of her relationship management and organisational skills. Combining her volunteering roles and work at Templars has pushed her to do more.
She also sits on the Council of the NBA-SBL and has, since March 2018, written more than 50 articles in the periodic column, The Young Business Lawyer, in the “Financial Times” of Nigeria, BusinessDay NG.
“I derive a deep fulfillment knowing I am helping professionals solve problems they have, faster than I may have for myself. I get emails from young lawyers and even law students who read my articles or take benefit from some of the work we have done at the NBA-SBL Young Lawyers Forum, stating the impact on their careers or specific professional challenges.”
She highlights one instance where a stockbroker and banker called to thank her for a tip in her article that triggered a notable career moment. She has also received an HR job offer following a project taken on by the NBA-SBL for the benefit of young lawyers. “I found this hilarious!”
On her plans for next year, Aderigbigbe says, “Next year’s challenge will be to leverage the work already done to ensure more lawyers are supported. Mentoring has been a big part of our contribution and we will continue this as well”.
Her mantra is: “Be about the law and about your life,” something she strives towards every day.
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