BusinessDay

Young Business Lawyer Spotlight – Temiloluwa Okeowo

Full name – Temiloluwa Okeowo
Firm : Udo Udoma and Belo-Osagie
Area of Practice – Mergers and Acquisition
Years of Experience – 8 years

Professional summary
Temiloluwa Okeowo is a Managing Associate in Udo Udoma and Belo-Osagie’s (UUBO) corporate advisory, mergers and acquisitions, private equity (PE) and venture capital (VC) teams with a particular focus on public & private funding and securities law in Nigeria. Working with companies and funds throughout their life cycle, she has advised on incorporation and business formation, capital raising, alternative investment structures and post-funding issues. She has also advised several private equity investors on exit strategies and conducted due diligence reviews to assess target viability.

Temiloluwa is an inaugural member of U-Law, a sub-firm of UUBO that provides affordable legal services specifically to tech-based start-ups and other micro, small and medium enterprises (SMEs). She routinely provides advice to start-ups and growth companies on a range of issues, from their everyday legal matters to their most complex legal issues with a view to ensuring investor readiness. Temiloluwa also enjoys supporting clients in the development of novel funding structures such as crowdfunding and other types of marketplace lending in Nigeria.

She has co-authored articles in the Global Legal Insights Guide, Practical Law, Mondaq, International Law Office and has been recognised for her contributions to the World Bank Group’s ‘Doing Business Guide’. She is a member of the African Private Equity & Venture Capital Association and the Nigerian Bar Association, Section on Business Law. Temiloluwa is an alumna of the London School of Economics and Political Sciences.

Temiloluwa was part of the team that advised Tiger Global in connection with its participation in the (i) USD 170 million Series-C investment in Flutterwave resulting in the company’s achievement of a “unicorn” valuation in excess of $1billion and (ii) $42 million Series-B funding round of neobank startup, FairMoney, a subsidiary of Predictus SAS

She also advised SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2 on its participation in the US$400 million Series C investment in Opay.

Read also: Young Business Lawyer Spotlight

Four Questions with Temiloluwa

What do you appreciate most about your work as a young lawyer?

I appreciate the breadth of learning prospects, the quality of the professionals that I work with, and the support I provide to SMEs. Working within the M&A team at UUBO has afforded me the opportunity to advise a plethora of companies and develop my knowledge across various sectors including the power, financial services, technology, and consumer goods sectors. Whilst conducting due diligence reviews, I am also able to learn more about a target’s products, prospects, and value. UUBO is a family, and I appreciate ‘growing up’ in a family of not just skilled, creative and knowledgeable legal luminaries, but even more so, kind, supportive, and honest lawyers. My SME-focused work gives me the opportunity to contribute my quota to solving the funding gap plaguing many SMEs in Nigeria today. Leveraging on my PE and VC experience, I support SMEs seeking to raise capital, improve corporate governance, and ensure regulatory compliance.
P.S: The international travel opportunities that my work provides are a plus!

What is that one valuable experience in your practice of law that continues to spur you on?

“Nothing is impossible; every deal can be negotiated.”

One of the things that I enjoy most about practicing commercial law is the structuring and negotiation of deals to ensure that, at completion, my client is left in the best possible negotiated position. As long as both parties are aligned on implementing a deal within the ambit of the law, structuring and negotiation solutions are often vast. Although the considerations in every deal differ, I have found that my hands-on experience gained from working on quality deals over the years has made me more conversant with the usual structuring issues that tend to arise in Nigerian deals such as foreign exchange issues and competition control. I find that I am motivated when presented with a potential bottleneck on a deal and have to find creative solutions to overcome these hurdles.

What is your opinion about inclusion in Nigerian law firms and what initiatives can still be taken to encourage such?

I believe that Nigerian law firms have made improvements in addressing diversity concerns to support inclusion. However, there is still a lot more that can be done, particularly in relation to tribal and gender inclusion within law firms. Inclusion for me in the Nigerian context involves intentionally and continuously assessing all internal processes to ensure that all lawyers, regardless of their gender, religion, tribe, class, or number of years at the bar (yes, I said it!), have the required resources to thrive in legal practice, purely based on merit and free from any bias.In terms of initiatives, law firms should: conduct a gender balance review to analyse the ratio of female-to-male partners within their respective firms. Each review should focus on the role that maternity leave plays in widening gender imbalance and whether it disadvantages women. Consideration should be given to promoting deserving women (even when they are on maternity leave) and providing workplace support for women upon their return to the workplace; and take active steps to ensure the recruitment of lawyers from every geo-political zone and lawyers with disabilities.

UUBO has continued to historically sustain a near-equal ratio of male to female partners. The firm offers six month-fully paid maternity leave for senior lawyers, a creche, and flexible working arrangements. More recently, UUBO set up a dedicated ‘’Talent Team’’ that is charged with the responsibility of developing and implementing formal strategies and structures to improve the work experience at the firm right from recruitment to retention and strengthening our relationship with our alumni.

What one leader do you look up to and why?

The ‘Lioness of Lisabi’ – Funmilayo Ransome Kuti. As a Nigerian educator, political campaigner, suffragist, and women’s rights activist, she paved the way for young female commercial lawyers like myself to have a voice in, and beyond my industry. Because of heroes like her, inclusion is still discussed today!

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