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Iyanujesu Oguntunji | Nigeria | Ask Questions

Updated: Mar 7, 2022

Legal Practitioner / Attorney

(Energy, Corporate, Finance & Securities, Start-ups & Business Advisory, Writer)

My journey has been characterized by tenacity, determination, and God's grace. I had seven distinctions in my West African Senior School Certificate (WASSCE) and graduated as the third-best student in my class, when I finished secondary school. I had my LLB at the University of Ibadan, and I was not a triangle student who just did church-class-hostel at the University of Ibadan. I actively participated in extracurricular activities like student unionism, leadership, and community volunteering.

Despite the difficulties that come with being a final year student, I started my cake business in my final year. With all of these, I graduated with a Second-Class Upper Grade and received multiple leadership awards. I enjoyed my university years, and my only regret is that I did not start with a first-class mindset, which influenced my final grade in some way. However, at the Nigerian Law School, I had to change the narrative. With grace and hard work, I graduated with a First Class, placing me in the top 30 out of 5,689 students. I currently work for a top tier commercial law firm in Nigeria, and I am an active member of the Energy, Corporate Finance, and Securities Team, where I regularly advise clients on energy, finance, and commercial issues. Prior to joining the firm, I worked for a dispute resolution firm that specializes in high-profile commercial disputes, as well as an energy law firm where I advised both indigenous and international oil firms on hydrocarbon projects and transactions.

What were the biggest initial hurdles and how did you overcome them?

Life isn't always a bed of roses, so it's understandable that things won't always go smoothly, but it's also not insurmountable. At the outset of my career, I had various hurdles, including:

1. Working long hours while assuring prompt delivery of high-quality work: At the beginning of my career, I had to work long hours to meet clients’ deadlines and deliver excellent results. The long hours resulted in stress and took a toll on my health. With effective time management and task prioritization, I was able to solve this. However, I frequently stay up late when it's necessary. After all, every lawyer's job is to make the client happy.

2. Transitioning from a core dispute resolution practice to a corporate commercial practice: To put this into perspective, I started my career as a corp member in a dispute resolution firm, where I represented clients in commercial disputes in superior courts of records. However, I had always wanted to be a corporate commercial lawyer, and that practice did not match my career interests. Switching to a commercial law firm following my NYSC was challenging at first, with a lot of complex commercial agreements to draft and review, but I strengthened my adaptability skills, and I was able to adapt properly.

3. Work-life balance; As I indicated earlier, I had to adjust to long hours of work in the beginning of my career, and as a result, other aspects of my life, particularly personal development, was affected. With strict time management and organization, I was able to overcome this. I dedicate as much time as I can to self-development while learning the ropes on the job. I also make an effort to keep a good social life; my friends refer to me as the "life of the party" (lol!)

What books are you currently reading?

1. Smart Money Woman

2. Act like a lady, think like a woman

What advice would you give to an upcoming youth or talents locally and internationally?

1. Be true to yourself and give life your best shot. Life isn't black and white, so if things don't go as planned, adjust accordingly, and keep moving forward.

2. Approach whatever you do with a positive and open mindset. Mindset is extremely important in all you do because it provides you with a sense of direction.

3. Be visible amongst your peers: You can be smart in your own corner, but how do you show others your smartness? This can be achieved by going above and beyond and being visible.

What advice would you give to an upcoming youth or talents locally and internationally?

"Whatever is worth doing at all, is worth doing well," is a favourite saying of mine. I have always applied this across all spheres of my life and career development. As a Christian, I am a fervent believer in God's word, and the word says, "a diligent man will stand before kings and not mean men." For someone who comes from a modest background, I maintain a positive attitude toward my goals, put in the effort, and stay focused. I am also very inquisitive, and I am not shy about asking my senior and junior colleagues questions about anything; after all, no one knows everything. This has been one of my learning styles since elementary school. I believe in accepting criticism since it serves to guide me in the right direction. I am very big on personal development, and I have taken some online courses in the past. Currently, I am going through training at McKinsey Academy on soft skills applicability.

Social Media Handles:

Twitter: @Iyanujesu2


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