‘Carve a Niche for Yourself, Early in Practice’

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Please, give a brief introduction of yourself

My name is Oyebiyi Ladapo, I am the Founder and Managing Partner of the BL Practice Hub, a Transactions Law Consulting firm in Lagos (A Niche of Business Law).

I am an Alumnus of ISL Lagos, Kings College, Lagos, Lagos State University, where I got my LLB, and Edinburg Business School (Heriot-Watt University) where I got my Master’s degree in Business Administration.

Have you ever had any challenges in your career, and if so, what were the challenges?

For the purpose of this interview, I will restrict myself to the challenges faced as a law student at the University, and then as a qualified Lawyer. For the former, you are faced with a lot of challenges, such as industrial actions which can extend the course duration, beyond the standard five years. Another challenge, is the inadequate exposure to various legal procedures at home.

Abroad, for example, the elective programme Universities in developed countries, allow students visit other schools and countries, in order to have international exposure. Some foreign trained law students therefore, have an edge over the Nigerian trained students, at some stages of our career. As a qualified Lawyer, inadequate exposure, diminished vitality and limited opportunities in our society, often blur the vision and mission of most Nigerian trained lawyers.

Often times, Lawyers are more interested in securing jobs to make an ends meet, than pursuing aspects of law that they are passionate about. It is essentially, a case of survival and self sustenance. By the time you are a qualified Lawyer and after NYSC, you are already older than the minimum age to get a job in the society, because of loss time in your undergraduate years of studying in Nigeria Universities.

What was your worst day as a lawyer?

The first day I appeared in court as a Youth Corper, was a day I can never forget in my life. I was given a case file from the Ministry of Justice where I served in the department of PPP, with no endorsement, no last action report, so I had no idea of what to say or what the case entailed. I had less than 10 minutes to prepare for this. I was like a fish out of water.

What was your most memorable experience as a Lawyer?

I worked for a top law firm which was partnered with other top firms, to represent a multinational company that has been in Nigeria since the 1970’s, and I was a member of a team that completed a landmark case, and got judgement in our client’s favour. This was my first major exposure, to winning.

Who has been most influential in your life?

First of all, I will say God, because I am a product of Grace, I don’t think I would have come this far in this profession, without His divine positioning. Also, in various stages of my life, as a man of many parts, I have met different people who have mentored and given me direction. Some of these individuals include, my Mother, who exposed me to current affairs, and a lot of social life balance; my Father, who exposed me to history of the world of why and how, anthropology, psychiatry and mental health at a very early stage of my life; Mr. Biyi; my cousin, G.A; Dare Falana, a very senior colleague, who gave me my very first major exposure in litigation, during chamber attachment; Yemi Edun of Daniel Ford, who made me see opportunities in every challenge I came across in my day to day activities; and Pastor Tai Adesugba, who helped me develop a positive and beautiful mind-set in any challenge, as well as an excellent spirit.

Why did you become a lawyer?

I never knew I would become a Lawyers. I found myself as a Lawyer, which I somehow believe is divine, because I have always been in the middle of medical doctors, so it was just right for me to be a medical doctor by tradition.

What would be your advice to anyone wanting a career in law?

I will advice anyone who wants to have a career as a Lawyer, to identify their strength, passion, weakness, and do something totally unrelated at some point in time, either in business, finance, religion, medical ethics or human rights, to gain a competitive edge from the synergy, upon completion of the first degree, because knowledge is power. Also, not to ignore little steps of progress from University days, because every stage and every day in your formative years of the career, counts in the future. This is because, the end justifies the means, but don’t ignore the means to the end. As undergraduates or qualified Lawyers, you should have identified and studied the professional terrain by breaking it into segments, target which niche suits your capacity, and position yourself there at a very early stage, from internships to building professional practice based relationships.

If you had not become a Lawyer, what other career would you have chosen?

Asides being a man in the middle of six medical doctors which I am one of them in equity, I would have probably been in the forefront of entertainment in Nigeria, from club ownerships, to restaurant business, fashion or stand-up comedy. Essentially, an entrepreneur of some worth.

Where do you see myself in the next 10 years?

Wow! In 10 years, I see myself as a leader of an executive arm of government, either at the Federal or State level, or a member of the team or group of forward thinking Nigerians, who will take Nigeria back to her glory days before 1964, because I am very passionate about Nigeria being in the forefront of the world, and I am also hopeful that I will empower as many young professionals as possible, to see the business side of law. I also intend to be a staunch advocate of men’s mental health, in Nigeria. You never know, I may become a professor of business law, sharing my expertise with young minds in various Tertiary institutions, or business schools in Nigeria and abroad.