By Onozure Dania
NO fewer than 1,000 participants including over 100 law firms are billed to attend the 2017 ESQ Nigerian Legal Awards, the organisers have said. The awards convener and chief executive officer (CEO) of Legal Blitz Ltd, and publisher of ESQ Legal Practice magazine, Lere Fashola, disclosed that this year’s edition which is the fifth, will stand out with the introduction of several innovative features and awards.
Fashola stated that some of the innovations include Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) category which celebrates their contributions to the growth and development of the legal profession. He said: “These SANs category is based on an online poll conducted on the various social media platforms through www.surveymonkey.com. “We have also received various submissions from the National Law Student’s Essay Competition where Law Students across the various faculties of Law all over the country were asked to write a 500 word essay on the SAN who inspire them to greatness.” According to him, the top three essay writers will get scholarships to attend ESQ legal trainings and cash prizes among others.
Fashola stated that the event, which is slated for November 12 at the Landmark Event Centre, Oniru, Victoria Island, Lagos, will be preceded on November 10 by the Judges Conference hosted by the African Finance Corporation (AFC). The panel of judgescomprises “Heads of African Practice Groups at United Kingdom-based law firms, CEOs, founding partners of national and multinational institutions, senior Nigerian lawyers, international consultants,” among others.
It will be led by the AFC Executive Director and Legal Adviser, Dr Adesegun Akin-Olugbade. Meanwhile, Fashola noted northern Nigeria’s first lawyer, Alhaji AGF Abdulrazaq (SAN), former Chief Judge of Lagos State Justice Ayotunde Philips and Nigerian Bar Association President, A.B Mahmoud among others to be honoured.
“So far over 30 law firms have been shortlisted from among over 100 law firms that were earlier nominated for the award.
“Among top contenders for the awards are Aluko & Oyebode, Templars, Sefton Fross LP, Bloomfield LP, Udo Udoma and Belo Osagie, Ajumogobia and Okeke, Olisa Agbakoba & Co, SPA Ajibade, Jackson Etti and Edu, & Co,” he said. Non-law firms in the race include MTN, Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Total and Pandora. According to him, top personalities expected to bag awards include Group CEO of United Capital Group, Mrs Toyin Sanni; outgoing company secretary of First Bank Holdings, Alhaji Tijani Borodo; Okey Wali SAN, George Etomi (SAN), among others. Fashola also noted that the awards’ committee has re-introduced the corporate counsel category, which looked at the role of lawyers who were working internally in companies or organisations. He said: “Traditionally, lawyers in legal departments have been seen as deals’ killers, but they are now very strategic and an important aspect of every organisation. “We are looking at the role of these in-house lawyers in strengthening and promoting corporate governance and business development of organisations.”