Honours for general counsels‘ behind big deals’

Not fewer than 105 lawyers, working as legal professionals in-house in corporate organisations in Nigeria have been honoured by the London based “The Legal 500” in conjunction with GC Powerlist (Nigeria).

The Legal 500 has been instrumental in recognising and highlighting influential General Counsel and Heads of Legal teams in business globally. Since 2013, the first of such award by The Legal 500 in Africa, took place in South Africa for in-house counsels  and corporate organisations.

A law firm,The New Practice (TNP) teamed up with The Legal 500 to host the honourees in Nigeria at a reception which held Thursday night at Lagos Boat Club, Ikoyi.

TNP Managing Partner, Baba Alokolaro told journalists that they took up the initiative in support of The Legal 500, to celebrate general counsel across the industries.

Alokolaro said general counsels in-house are behind most big deals the big lawyers outside are celebrated

“Usually in our industry, there is a fine line between in-house counsel and external counsel. And if you look at a spectrum of deals or distribution matters, you would see that it’s usually or generally the external counsel that is celebrated. So you hear the name of this law firm or partner in this law firm or that partner in this law firm made this achievement or achieved this feat.

“But it is the two warriors that worked internally that determined whether they were going to go to war or determined whether the deal was worth doing, either from a compliance perspective or otherwise, is the general counsel.

“And generally the in-house counsels are not celebrated for their achievements. So when Legal 500 started this initiative, they’ve done it in other parts of the world and I believe they’ve done it in South Africa, and said they wanted to introduce it in Nigeria.

“What makes the engine room of any firm work? Are they the deals that we do? Where do these deals come from? They come from our clients. Who deals with our clients, it is the general counsel in-house.

“If the top lot of general counsel across industries in Nigeria are being celebrated for their wins and achievements, it is something we wanted our firm associated with. In a nutshell, their success, and celebrating their success is what motivated us to sponsor this event”, he said.

Alokolaro said the honour  was specific for internal counsel by a legal directory that generally just lists who is who in the legal landscape insisting that it is not the case of a prophet not having honour in his home.

“They do it across the entire geography of the world. So you could have local recognition. But this is global recognition of what happens in Nigeria. So we have both”, he argued, adding. “these are canons that we have in the mix. So we’re also recognised within Nigeria by a couple of entities that do different things and recognise both in-house and external counsels.”

Asked if the honour done the recepients  would motivate others , the TNP Managing Partner said: “When you’re recognised for something you do, you receive an accolade. It is a medal of honour. You’re being honored.  Beyond financial reward, your peers, your subordinates, your superiors, the industry is recognising you for something you are good at. You feel good. The feel-good quotient is something that I believe will propel anybody to do better and to do more.

“If my boss got this award, it’s such a deal because my boss was recognised for the quality of work he was doing, then it means that the quality of work I am doing must be as good as the work of my boss or better so that I could be recognised as much as my boss in the future.”

Giving reasons for the quality of lawyers coming out of Law School. he pointed out that the practice of litigation has changed significantly from where you had to cross all in advocacy.

He noted that a  lot of advocacy now is done in written form.

“Before I stopped litigation as a practice, we have already for closes all our process, So anything you need to say is in writing. The least you could do is adumbrate.

“Gone are the days when you watch legal titans in court, whether this one has his foot on a stool or whether that one has his hands on a lectern, delivering their addresses.

“Those of us who are not silks would be waiting for our matter to be called on adjournments and adjournments. So, in terms of law practice management and litigation process management, I think we have moved in leaps and bounds in time.

“Now the quality of lawyers coming out of Law School, there is an argument that they are not as good as they used to be. Law as an industry is a continuing learning process. Whatever you learn at university and  law school, practice must correct it, plus continuing legal education. As I am sitting here, I am still learning new ways of doing things.”, he said

Alokolaro said  most things in Law school are theoretical law and that there is need to correct these things.

“They need a level of  correction or improvement in moving with the time. We need sustainability. It means you must keep up with the times and see what progress and the future has. If you are still talking about, for instance, agreements and documents, audio of an agreement and how they are prepared, and we are still teaching our lawyers how to be what they were  taught  30 something years ago, even  when agreements are refreshed on daily basis. The way I wrote agreement yesterday is not the way I am writing it today, talk less of tomorrow. Things have changed,

“There also have to be that openness of mind to see that forms are just forms. We are not shackled to forms, it is a direction, a roadmap. As long as we know that it is a roadmap, and we update those road maps”, he said.

Speaking about  NBA’s position  that UK lawyers cannot practice in Nigeria, he said it is fair that the NBA must protect its territory.

“You have your home, I have my home. If I am allowed to come into your home with unfettered access, then you must be allowed to come into my home with unfettered access.  It must be reciprocal.

“A man  with a 1,000  lawyers,  vast in different laws about  different industries he has worked, and has advanced qualities better than I do and skills, more manpower, more resources,  comes into my industry to compete with me for same work, that is not the most reasonable thing to do.

“But if you say I can practice in your own jurisdiction without doing anything further, okay then because some of us would like to compete because we have great experts in different places in the legal industry. Some of those ones would  want to get great business. However,  even if you cross over to Accra, we have almost a common law jurisdiction, you cannot practice Ghanaian law. It would only make sense if you want to change that dynamic, that you speak to industry leaders, find out what we want and what we want to give.  We have laws that  regulate the industry and we must follow what that law says.”

Asked whether the honour done the in-house counsels would encourage other lawyers to do more, Alokolaro said the award is not for economic benefit.

“This event is not economically beneficial  to anybody.  It is more of social benefit, there is  emotional benefit, there is psychological benefit.  If I am being celebrated for the work I have done, some people local and global decided  that I have to be celebrated for the things that I have done in the industry, then it can make me to do better and to do more  and could be better than what I had done,”

Log in to primsol.lawpavilion.com and enjoy the best E-journals, textbooks, and many more

To subscribe to Primsol, go to store.lawpavilion.com.

For further enquiries/assistance, send an email to customercare@lawpavilion.com or call 08050298729

Call Bridget Edokwe Esq on 08060798767 or send your email to barristerngblog@gmail.com

Author: Prof Theodore Okonkwo, Ph.D: CALL: 08065159968; 08068771923: PRICES: N100,000 (SPECIAL EDITION), N60,000.00 (UNIVERSAL EDITION)

Digital Evidence and eDiscovery Law Practice in Nigeria -By Emeka Arinze Esq. [ORDER NOW] - For book cost & placing order, visit www.decfi.com.ng/order

Steps To Subscribe To the Court of Appeal Reports Nigeria

Get ‘Personal Property Law in Nigeria’ By Chief Mike A.A. Ozekhome, SAN (FREE)

Click below to download FREE



BESTSELLER: Commercial and Economic Law in Nigeria By Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN [ORDER NOW] To ORDER click the link https://kluwerlawonline.com/EncyclopediaChapter/IEL+Commercial+and+Economic+Law/COMM20210001