Lawyer of the Week – Abdullateef Olasubomi Abdul
We are excited about our final feature for the year. Meet Abdullateef Olasubomi Abdul, an associate at Ikeyi & Arifayan, Nigeria and an avid writer indeed. Our chat with him was expository, from talking about the paradigm shift from litigation to ADR, prospects of artificial intelligence in law and lots more.
Do follow the conversation below.
Can you briefly describe your journey so far in dispute resolution?
It has been amazing. I have had the opportunity to conduct matters at various courts of record in Nigeria. These include lead and sole appearances in contentious matters at the Court of Appeal, State High Courts, Federal High Court, National Industrial Court and Magistrate Courts of Lagos State. The litigation matters also cut across various areas of law including debt recovery, employment and labour, taxation, libel, fundamental rights enforcement, breach of contract, divorce petition & custody matters, enforcement of judgment debt, sundry tortuous claims, and proceedings under Companies & Allied Matters Act amongst others.
I’ve also appeared at the Tax Appeal Tribunal in respect of various tax appeals. Similarly, I’ve participated in negotiation and mediation alternative dispute resolution sessions on behalf of clients.
I’m grateful to my employers/colleagues, Nduka Ikeyi, Samuel Orji, Taofeek Shittu, Kenechi Ezezika, amongst others, for trusting me to deal with complex legal matters and for their role in my professional experience thus far.
Did you always have it in mind to study Law?
Yes, since my Junior Secondary School years. I wanted to be a footballer, then a lawyer and writer.
You have won various writing contests, home and abroad. Do share with us your literary side.
It is true that I’ve won various writing prizes locally and internationally. But I have also failed to emerge winner in at least 20 writing contests I partook in. Writing for me is beyond merely winning contests. It is more importantly about giving life to my inner thoughts, giving force to my quiet contemplations, contributing my perspective to conversations, and piercing souls and institutions through my words so as to shine the light of my art, from wherever I may be, to the world around me.
What is the major challenge you’ve faced in practice?
The legal profession can be very demanding and the effect is that I barely have personal time for myself.
What is the most exciting part of practice?
I represent corporations and individuals on a broad range of legal matters and it is usually exciting providing services to them and meeting their legal services needs.
More law students are beginning to favour ADR, to litigation practice. Why is this so and is it justifiable your opinion?
ADR is trendy and justifiably so, given its many advantages over litigation, including speed, flexibility, privacy, active involvement of parties amongst others. But for now, I don’t think ADR has severed its umbilical cord with litigation especially in the context of enforcement and procedural challenge which typically involves resort to the courts. For now, I’m also not convinced of the legal efficacy of ADR where one or more party to the process proves uncooperative. In any case, I think the better approach, particularly for students, is to be well-equipped and familiar with all dispute resolution methods as they all have their points of relevance and advantages.
What aspect of practice keeps you going?
I won’t say any particular aspect of practice is what keeps me going. Rather what keeps me going is my faith in God and my desire for excellence in all my endeavours.
What are your hopes for the Nigerian Legal Profession come 2019?
My main hope for the Nigerian Legal Profession 2019 is the safety and security of all lawyers in the performance of their works. Right now, it appears legal practitioners have become endangered species in the Nigerian society. From police brutality to random kidnapping and killings of lawyers and magistrates, the safety of legal practitioners in Nigeria in the performance of their works is a burning issue which unfortunately is not receiving the needed attention. I hope the Bar leaders in Nigeria and all relevant stakeholders would rise to the occasion to decisively put an end to this menace of insecurity of lawyers in the discharge of their duties.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been pitched to massively disrupt, globally, the legal profession in a couple of years. What are your thoughts of its impact on the Nigerian Legal Profession – positive or negative?
I agree AI would disrupt the legal profession. It has started doing so already. I do not think the Nigerian Legal Profession would be exempted from its impact. Of course, it would render many lawyers redundant initially, especially those unprepared for it but I think it comes with its own unique opportunities as well. I also think, in the grand scheme of things, its impact would be positive as it will help lawyers and business men get more efficient in their works.
Any final words?
I’ll borrow these words from Steve Jobs: “stay hungry, stay foolish!”