• Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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Young Business Lawyer Spotlight: Adetola Adeleye

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Name: Adetola Adeleye
Organisation: First Ally Capital Limited. Head, Legal/Company Secretary
Area of Practice: Corporate and Commercial Law
Years of Experience: 10 years

Adetola Adeleye is a legal practitioner with extensive experience spanning various aspects of legal practice with a strong bias for Financial Services, Commercial Transactions, Capital Markets Operations, Regulatory Compliance, and Corporate Governance. Adetola leads the Legal, Compliance, and Company Secretarial Team at First Ally. In this capacity, she advises all the subsidiaries in identifying opportunities and managing legal risks, complying with best governance standards, and ensuring full legal and regulatory compliance with relevant laws, amongst others.

She holds an LL. B (Hons) from Obafemi Awolowo University where she finished top of her class bagging several prizes and awards for excellence in 2011. She was called to the Nigerian Bar in 2012 and obtained an LL.M in Law from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 2016 where she was a Dean Scholar and recipient of the Trustee’s Council of Penn Women Scholarship

Adetola has advised on the acquisition of equity stake by Publicis Groupe in the Troyka Group. The Troyka Group is the first wholly owned integrated marketing communications service provider in West Africa. The transaction involved six (6) marketing communications entities of the Troyka Group i.e. Insight Communications Limited, All Seasons Media Limited, Media Perspectives Limited, The Quadrant Company, and Hotsauce Limited.

She was integrally part of the team that advised Access Holdings Plc on the acquisition of 80% equity interest in First Guarantee Pension Limited, the indirect acquisition of Sigma Pensions Limited, and the subsequent merger of Sigma Pensions Limited and First Guarantee Pension Limited leading to the Creation of Access Pensions Limited.

Adetola actively supports the Investment Banking Business at First Ally Capital in transaction origination, structuring, arranging, and execution covering the spectrum of Project & Structured Finance, Mergers & Acquisition, Corporate Finance, Equity, and Debt Capital Markets.

Read also: Young business lawyer spotlight: Dindam Killi

Four Questions with Adetola

You have had an illustrious legal career as a young lawyer, having been involved in both law firm and in-house practice. What would you say are the biggest lessons you have learned?

One of the biggest lessons I have learned is to have a good work ethic and deliver quality work because excellence always sells. Next is to develop your soft skills- i.e- skills that enable you to fit in at a workplace. They include your personality, attitude, flexibility, emotions, motivation, and manners. Also, become your own Chief Marketing Officer and make yourself visible – do the work, be seen as doing the work, and keep track of your accomplishments. Also, I have learnt that it is important to build your personal and professional networks, remember not only to network up but also network sideways. These peer relationships are just as powerful, please do not discount them. Keep good connections not only with your immediate team but also outside your team. And, while meeting people is important, cultivating long-term relationships is more important. Finally, becoming a manager or leader does not suddenly bestow you with the empathy, kindness and humanity needed to be a great leader, if anything, power/position can actually amplify our weaknesses. Please, pay it forward.

What are the perks and limitations of being an in-house counsel? What is your advice for young lawyers looking towards that career path?

The best and worst thing about being an in-house lawyer is the sheer breadth of knowledge we need to possess which I believe is one of the reasons why we are likely to face imposter syndrome and feel like we can never learn it all (with a sense of defeat). The diversity of workload that comes with being an in-house counsel is one of the reasons I find it interesting. You could be advising on an investment, drafting an IT agreement, and managing a dismissal issue all within the space of eight hours. The exposure to a wide range of legal work that often spans practice areas is something thrilling and challenging. Also exposure to industry defining transactions, room for work life integration and opportunity for industry recognition are some of the perks of being an in-house counsel.

One limitation which comes with the position is that it can be lonely if you are a solo in-house counsel. But you can build a network, if you are the only in-house lawyer at your company or are part of a small team, you will find it useful to build up a network of other in-house counsel with whom you can share experiences and advice. Join relevant trade associations or communities of practitioners in your industry.

For lawyers moving from a law firm to in-house, making the transition to an in-house role is a big career change. Take time to research the market and when you find the right role, use the first few weeks to know your company and the sector in which they operate. In order to be a successful in-house lawyer, make time to really understand what it is your company does. If you know how the company makes money, you can draft, defend, and advise much better. There will be twists and turns along the way, but keep at it, one day at a time- i.e- the staircase analogy.

How can we ensure that diversity and inclusion is made a core part of the Nigerian legal industry?

Collectively, we need to deal with institutional mindsets and stereotypes that certain roles in an organisation are reserved for a particular gender. The search for female talent must be embedded in the overall human capital strategy which should be owned and implemented by the Board. It should not be left to the HR Department to drive.

Individually, women should discard mindsets, thoughts, and behaviours that hold them back. A good percentage of women do not pursue C-level positions for a myriad of reasons, including socialisation pressures, lack of confidence, risk aversion, valuing work-life balance, or a desire to avoid politics.

What is that one valuable experience in your practice of law that continues to spur you on?
The 11 months of leadership tutelage under Sir Leo Oafor- General Counsel/Company Secretary of United Capital Plc has been the greatest experience for me till date.