It’s always wonderful to hear news of Nigerians doing great things in the diaspora. That is why at Bellanaija, we are very proud of Omolarami Oluwakemi Ayodeji, a 27 year-old Nigerian born Lawyer who was recently shortlisted for one of the most prestigious awards in the UK legal calendar, The Law Society Excellence Awards.
Omolarami is the only Nigerian short listed for the awards and she was recognized in the Junior Lawyer of the Year category.
Born in Lagos, Nigeria in March 1985, Omolarami and her family relocated to the UK when she was just a year old. She completed her primary and secondary education in the UK and then proceeded to Brunel University where she obtained her first degree in English. She went on to do a Graduate Diploma in Law where she passed and the Legal Practice Course where she obtained a commendation.
Omolarami said she decided to study law because she wanted a career that would challenge her. “After my degree I was looking for a career that required me to think, to be challenged daily and to meet the welfare of other people and law,” she said. “I underwent several work experiences and fell in love with the daily challenges faced by solicitors, the client interaction and the ability to assist someone in their time of need.”
Currently, she is at the last stage of becoming qualified onto the Roll of Solicitors. She would eventually like to obtain a Masters Degree, “but would first like to specialise in a particular area of law before I master in it.”
Omolarami gets very excited when it’s time to talk about the daily requirements of her work and you feel her passion radiating through her words. “As a Trainee solicitor I have to cover a minimum of 3 areas of law during my Training Contract. I have covered Litigation, Commercial, Debt, Bankruptcy and Insolvency, Housing/ Property Litigation, Family and child care law. I am extremely lucky at my firm as I get hands on experience and a lot of responsibility which gives me great exposure to the arrears of law and client care. I carry a case load of over 100 files and am personally responsible for them,” she said.
Just like almost every other profession, she faces some challenges. “Law is a rewarding and fulfilling career but it is also challenging. I faced intense competition for trainee solicitor roles, long hours are the norm, competitive environment, high billing quotas…” But she said she has been able to surpass the challenges with God as she is a strong believer, and with the help of her wonderful supportive network of family and friends. “I believe anyone can study law, so long has you have the drive, passion, hard work, zeal and determination.”
The criterion to be nominated for the award was that all nominees’ submissions must relate to activities or initiatives conducted in the twelve months prior to the closing date for entries. Omolarami said she is proud to know that her hard work and dedication to the profession, her clients and her firm has not gone unnoticed.
“Throughout the twelve months prior to the closing date for this entry I have been dedicated to the driving force and initiator behind many volunteer community and pro bono initiatives. I provide free legal advice to those in my local housing my firm and assists Barnet “Safer Families Project” in advising and obtaining non molestation orders for their domestic violence victims. I have seen these projects assist and protect those during their most vulnerable times of their life, do not qualify for legal help and cannot afford legal advice access justice.”
In addition to that, she coordinates and organises volunteers at the free legal advice centre at Barnet Sure Start, a government funded initiative in West Hendon & Underhill.
But despite her achievements abroad, she hasn’t completely forgotten about home. “I do have desire to return back to Nigeria and practice law there and will be undergoing Christmas and Easter work placements at Lagos firms which will provide me with an in-depth insight of the working dynamics within a Nigerian law firm, Nigerian law and offer a taste of life as a Nigerian lawyer. From there I believe I can make a more educated decision as to whether I should continue my legal aspirations in the UK or in Nigeria.”
Getting shortlisted for the award, according to the young solicitor, is indeed a rare priviledge. In her words, she is “humbly ecstatic” and “honoured” and gives much credit to her parents and younger brother. Without their “support, encouragement, prayers and belief I wouldn’t have gotten this far in my career. I am eternally greatly to and for them.”
Despite her busy schedule as a lawyer, she strike a balance between my social and work life. She calls herself a “girly girl” and loves to hang out with her friends as often as she can. “We try and go away once in a while; take mini road trips on the weekend; meet up for after work drinks, we have girly lunches and dinner or try fun and different activities such as day spas, glamour works pampering sessions, paintballing, rock climbing, speed dating, trying out new restaurants, wine tasting. We celebrate each others successes, such as “call to the bar”; “album launches”; weddings, birth of children and gossip about boyfriends, husbands, fashion. We are real girly girls.”
Omolarami has great plans for the future and is not resting on her oars as she continues to be a source of inspiration to many. In five years time, she hopes to be a wife and a mother, successfully combining this with running and managing her own virtual law firm and consultancy work. “I am very passionate about young people and seeing them reaching their full potential and would most likely continuing doing inspirational talks to young people.”
As a lawyer, she lives by the words: Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.
Her dedication and passion as a young solicitor are indeed admirable and we celebrate her nomination and achievements. Well done Omolarami Ayodeji!
_____________________________________________________________________________________________The Law Society Excellence Awards recognise and reward the most outstanding and dynamic practitioners in the legal profession and are open to individuals and teams across the entire legal sector, not just solicitors. Now in their sixth year, the awards are the most prestigious awards in the legal calendar and are firmly established as the leading awards for the profession in England and Wales. Winners of the awards will be announced on October 18, 2012.