A strong belief in simplicity, a focus on solutions, and delivery of practical guidance to clients in the easiest manner are key ingredients in a recipe that Pavestones Legal co-founders Seun Timi-Koleolu and Aderonke Alex-Adedipe have used to help their Lagos-based firm ascend in four short years to being honoured as African Law Firm of the Year – Small Practice.
“When we say we believe in simplicity, what it means is we provide legal answers and guidance on legal processes in the simplest, easiest possible way,” explained Alex-Adedipe. Pavestones helps clients get answers quickly and move on with their business.
For Timi-Koleolu and Alex-Adedipe, the recognition for Pavestones at the 2022 African Legal Awards in September confirmed they were “on the right path” with their approach.
“It’s exciting, because we are doing law authentically, and we try to distinguish ourselves in the way we deliver legal services,” said Timi-Koleolu, who was named Partner of the Year at the 2021 African Legal Awards for her “exceptional leadership” and “innovative measures” in doing business in Nigeria and the legal marketplace.
Alex-Adedipe was a partner at a leading commercial firm and Timi-Koleolu a senior in-house counsel at a large telecommunications company before they established Pavestones, with those experiences in legal practice and a “clients’-eye view” informing their new approach.
Both co-founders felt lawyers could be “a bit too far from the clients” in traditional practice, believing that while they and their colleagues were doing law well, it wasn’t “stepping into the shoes of the clients” enough or getting close enough to understand what the client really needed.
Through her in-house experience, Timi-Koleolu got to experience the commercial background and strategic considerations to matters – what the organisation was trying to achieve. At times when she reached out to law firms for further legal advice, she said she would receive long opinions that didn’t address the urgent need in the organisation or provide a clear answer.
“I would look at these opinions for an answer and be left thinking, okay, what are you saying, can we do it or not?” she recalls. “Sometimes they weren’t being practical enough.”
Pavestones was established with a strong desire to provide practical solutions for clients, and to get much closer to them, explained Alex-Adedipe. “Another thing we believe in is we hold our clients’ hands, so we want to know about their business from conception to execution. It’s not just about legal processes or jargon. The bottom line is ensuring the client’s business is successful. We’re almost like a one-stop shop where we also provide referrals and recommendations on more practical matters, not just legal stuff. We’re solutions providers, solutions-driven.”
The goal for Pavestones from the beginning, commented Timi-Koleolu, was to understand clients and help them in a simple way, while working closely with them.
That drive for simplicity and practical, effective advice also led Pavestones to launch their Doing Business Simplified newsletter, published weekly for the past four years. This addressed an issue for local and international companies doing business in Nigeria, where legal and regulatory information often wasn’t readily available online.
“We decided to fill a gap by freely disseminating information, writing with the client in mind and in a way that’s easy for them to understand,” said Timi-Koleolu. “We’re thinking of what they might need – the information required – and we’re writing to answer those questions.”
For Timi-Koleolu and Alex-Adedipe, the client’s business is at the centre of their business. “We want to resolve issues to help them and take the law off them so they can focus on achieving their goals, so that we can help their businesses thrive.”
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