Yinka Ekungomi read law at the University of Lagos (UNILAG). Ekungomi, an indigene of Ogun State, was called to Bar in 2017. He shares his journey into the law profession with JOHN CHIKEZIE
My name is Yinka Ekungomi, an associate at Folashade Alli & Associates, a law firm in Lagos. I’m an indigene of Ogun-Waterside local Government Area of Ogun State. I graduated from the University of Lagos (UNILAG) in 2016 and was called tothe Bar in 2017.
I’m also an Associate of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.
To be very honest with you, other than my unique natural abilities especially speaking in public effortlessly which I thought was a fit for law at the time, law seemed to me like the best thing that could come out of the Arts/Social Sciences and now I know better.
As the days went by, I probably began to think of law as a profession for intellectuals and a tool for great impact in society and this sort of caught my fancy.
Looking back now, I see it was all the hand of God even when I did not fully understand my choice. I mean, everyone around me thought I should be in the Science class back in Secondary School especially my feat in with Mathematics but somehow, I escaped and here we are.
I would say I’ve been privileged to be exposed to work environment that have encouraged my growth in the profession so far. As a law student, I started out with short internships at Hurilaws, the Human Rights arm of Olisa Agbakoba Legal, KMO Legal and Banwo & Ighodalo.
These afforded me the opportunity of learning work place ethics and to a great extent, fanned my interest in working in a law firm. Since called to the Bar, I have worked as an Associate at Folashade Alli & Associates here in Lagos. It’s been a blessing being here these past three years.
I have grown from being a young new wig who just wanted to practice law to being an integral part of a dynamic team of lawyers offering bespoke legal services to clients in different sectors.
So far, I have majored in dispute resolution while also trying my hands on other areas such as real estate and general corporate/ commercial. Being at FAA has also helped me under stand the business of law. I mean, while growing as a lawyer, I have been absolutely privileged to learn the dynamics of running a law firm and I’m so grateful.
Safe to say we’re not where we are supposed to be at the moment. I mean, one major problem our justice system has consistently faced over the years is unnecessary delays in the dispensation of justice. You institute a matter in court and three years later, trial has not been concluded. And then just when you think you’re making progress, the judge retires or is transferred to another division!
So, a matter that probably should have been concluded in 6 – 8 months would literally take years and in many cases, justice delayed could be justice denied. Quite commendably, Lagos State is not doing too badly in this regard.
The Backlog Elimination Program as well as the establishment of Small Claims Courts have brought about some improvement which cannot be overlooked. However, there is still room for improvement.
Virtual proceedings are a very welcome idea in our jurisdiction. COVID-19 has made it our new normal. The only challenge for us is the fact that we’re still behind technologically in this part of the world. I represented a client in an online dispute resolution session recently and it was just unnecessarily stressful to be honest.
Something that should have lasted an hour thereabouts took about 4 hours because of technical glitches. So, yes, virtual proceedings have come to stay but we have a long way to go. However, in order to make progress, one of the most important things is to address our technological backwardness as a nation. Network providers have to do better in terms of quality and cost of service.
Secondly, we have to address our age-long power/electricity problem as a country. Then, as a profession, it is important that the members of the Bar and the Bench are continually enlightened and trained on the dynamics of virtual proceedings.
I’ve witnessed two elections since being called and in both elections, it was electronic voting. As I said earlier, when it comes to technology in Nigeria, we’re far from being there. From registration to verification to voting, the whole thing isn’t as seamless as one would expect. In both elections, there were several complaints of registered members not being able to vote for different reasons. My hope is that as the years go by, the process will get better.
There are a number of things I’ve got going on here and there. I would definitely love to start up my own firm sometime in the future. Before then, I may want to get an additional degree at a top school abroad.
And of course, I have the dream of starting a foundation whose objective will be to provide financial support in education to less privileged children, teenagers and young adults in Nigeria.
I have always believed that education (formal and informal) inspires people to dream big and maximise their potential. Somewhere in between all of these, I would like to work with the UN or a reputable international organization to address human rights issues in different nations of the world.