While I was in Lagos, Nigeria I had the wonderful opportunity to meet this week Werk Crush Wednesday, Derin Fagbure who is the editor of In Black and White (@inblack_and_white) where she talks about the law of business in a way that is relatable to start up entrerepeneurs. She is a Senior Associate in the Business and Transaction Support Group of a Lagos, Nigeria based law firm called Esher & Makarios.
I am a graduate of Igbinedion University and I have a Master’s Degree in Corporate Law from University College London. I am a member of the African Society of Crowdfunding. My column “In Black and White” which is published in Thisday Law discusses innovations in corporate governance and finance. I am passionate about entrepreneurs and write regularly on legal structures for SMEs through my brand “In Black and White”.
Your practice areas:
I am a corporate lawyer with interest in corporate finance, corporate governance, mergers and acquisitions. I am particularly passionate about the need to establish legal structures for small businesses.
The reaction when people find out you are a lawyer:
I typically get this response; “Oh Barrister! Thank God I am free to get into trouble, knowing that you will defend me.” (I dislike the use of the appellation Barrister by the way).
A major move in the last 5 years:
The opportunity to go on secondment to an international law firm was exciting. I am most grateful to God for becoming a Senior Associate which was a major move for me. Growing and developing the “In Black and White” brand which is aimed at creating business law awareness for entrepreneurs is another move that I am thankful for.
Why you chose to study law:
When I was 5 years old my Aunt’s picture at her call to bar ceremony caught my attention and inspired me to want to become a lawyer- I liked how she looked in her wig and gown. I asked my mum who is a Chartered Accountant if she and my dad had any uniform and she said their uniform was their suits. I did not fancy that and so I made up my mind to be a lawyer!
My dad, may his soul rest in peace, took my friend and I to watch a court room proceeding during our vacation and this further sparked my interest.
Something you wish you could change about legal practice:
I appreciate the need to preserve the traditional nature of the legal profession but also think it is important to infuse some modernity into the way we practice law. Technology and its advantages should be embraced to the fullest. The use of legalese in drafting is something I am uncomfortable with. For me, the simpler, the better.
Also I am extremely passionate about young lawyers and I believe the profession has been quite unfair to young lawyers. The welfare of the younger members of the legal profession should be prioritized with attention being given to pay structure, conditions of work and work environment. The importance of a conducive work environment to efficiency and productivity cannot be over-emphasized.
How do you network:
I am quite active in my local bar association. I currently serve as the Chairman of the Young lawyers Association. I look out for and attend conferences that are relevant to my areas of interest. I call that deliberate networking.
I am very good with faces (even if I say so myself) and so I never have a tough time remembering people I meet at events. I am currently making a conscious effort to keep in touch and communicate regularly with the people in my tribe. My tribe is valuable to me because we share ideas, collaborate and strengthen each other. I am open to coffee dates and lunch meetings because I find it easier to have valuable conversation over a good meal. I guess there is nothing wrong with liking good food.
Whats your “Go-To” beauty staple and closet item?
My Ruby Woo lipstick any day anytime. A pop of red makes all the difference even on the dullest of days. For my closet item, I would say a black dress works for me any day any time. I also cannot do without my pearls, too. I think they give a classy and professional look.
Describe your Werk style:
My style personality is dramatic and elegant. I create drama with my accessories. A brooch here, a scarf there. I wear a lot of dresses too. I am not one to wear a lot of colours. I love black and white in all forms, stripes, polka dots, houndstooth, etc. I dress down on Fridays- jeans and an infusion of African prints, if I am not going to court or attending a formal meeting.
When stressed or overwhelmed, what do you do to refocus:
Grab a bar of chocolate or drink a cup of green tea.
A physical or spiritual practice you have adopted:
My daily goal is to be closer to my God. My best spiritual practice is worship, because I see worship as a way of expressing my gratitude to the One who was, is and will always be. Anyone who knows me well knows I love singing.
My nursery school report once said “Derin loves singing and dancing”. My dad seeing this comment, advised me not to make a career in singing and dancing!
If not law, what would you be doing:
Law, law and law again.
Bad recommendations or assumptions about law that you often hear:
I often frown when people say lawyers are liars. I also do not like the assumption that lawyers are trouble makers.
What would you say to yourself in the first year of university:
I wish I had done a lot more socially. I had good grades in my first year but I could participated in more extra-curricular activities. I have undergraduate mentors and I always tell them the importance of playing the balancing game. Probably, I should have taken part in competition which would have given me a greater opportunity to develop a wider field of influence.
Can you share something you are struggling with right now?
I am working on being better on managing my emotions. I think sometimes I get too emotional and sentimental. I also need to learn how to say no, I guess this is tied to being overly emotional.
Major goal for the next 5 years:
5 years is a long time. When I say a long time, I mean sufficient time to make life changing decisions. I trust that I would be a better person, both personally and career wise. I believe strongly in personal and career development. Therefore I have highlighted a number of courses I would like to do to in order to better position myself career wise- so I want to go back to school.
Quote you live your life by:
To put my damn best into all I do. My mum and dad always said I should work for a 110% if my goal is to get an A. I strive to do that. I must admit that it is not the easiest of things!