The work of Benjamin Obidegwu, who is the managing partner for Hermon Barristers & Solicitors in Lagos, has spanned the gamut of regulatory compliance, corporate and commercial law, litigation, project finance and the Nigerian capital market.
From his pupil days, working under Professor Yemi Osinbajo, he has gradually streamlined the practice groups he engages in and whittled them down to the core areas of law that hold his interest. Obidegwu expresses a deep love for the capital market and, with it, the wide range of commercial transactions he works with for his clients within the Nigerian financial system.
Obidegwu has been an active member of the Capital Markets Solicitors’ Association (CMSA) for more than four years. He has served as its secretary, vice chairman and in September 2019 was elected chair for a two-year tenure that will end in 2021.
Obidegwu has some ideas about the transformation he would like to see introduced in the work of capital market solicitors.
“Unlike in other jurisdictions, lawyers don’t play a very prominent role in capital market transactions. Usually it is the issuing houses that are at the forefront and do, basically, most of the work. Yet most of the issues in capital market transactions are legal issues. Lawyers ought to be in a pro-active position in those transactions. We will find a way to ensure that the role of lawyers in the capital market is more prominent, going forward.”
Obidegwu also believes that continuing legal education is very important for lawyers working within the capital market so they fully understand the intricacies of this strongly regulated area of finance.
“There is usually a lot of interaction with the Securities and Exchange Commission in the course of capital market transactions. This increases the time spent on transactions. Thankfully, the SEC is trying to come up with a checklist that will serve as a guide for capital market transactions.”
He believes that this will make transactions more seamless and less time-consuming in the future.
Obidegwu has a great deal of cognate experience in various areas of law practice in his twenty-plus years as a lawyer.
“I enjoy real estate transaction documentation and due diligence,” he says. “I also thoroughly enjoy finance and its finer aspects.”
Obidegwu advises young lawyers with an interest in the capital market and other specific areas of law to first pick an interest in it. “If you are going into capital market law with money as your sole aim, you may be disappointed because there are not many transactions going on. I encourage any young lawyer who is interested to be patient, give it your best and make sure you are good at what you do.”
In his spare time, Obidegwu spends time at his sports club, enjoying time with friends and associates. He also enjoys his work as the chairman of his community Obodoukwu in Imo State and engages in corporate social responsibility projects.