By Juliet Ebirim
Lawyers and other leading personalities from different sectors of the economy will be converging at the Muson Center, Onikan, Lagos, this Friday, September 18, for the 2015 edition of the prestigious ESQ Nigerian Legal Awards.
Speaking at a press conference ahead of this year’s edition, the Chief Executive Officer, Legal Blitz Limited and publisher of the ESQ Legal Practice Magazine who also doubles as convener of the Legal Awards, Lere Fashola, said they have introduced some innovations to the awards ceremony following the successful hosting of the maiden edition last year. He stated that one of such innovations was the Corporate Counsel Award (CCA) category, which is targeted at appreciating the role of lawyers who work as in-house counsel for companies and corporate organizations in the overall scheme and interest of the organizations and their business transactions.
According to him, the existence of legal departments in any organization is imperative because in-house counsel do not just advise on legal compliance, but also help in risks mitigation.
Emphasizing the significance of this novelty, Lere explains that traditionally, even though lawyers in legal departments have been regarded as deal killers, but they are now very strategic and play an all-important role in the commercial life of organizations. He stressed that legal departments are now seen as the commercial nerve centre of organizations. He explains that the focus is on the role of these in-house lawyers in the strengthening and promotion of corporate governance and business development in organizations.
Lere further explains that the ESQ-organized Legal Awards was living up to its expectation, insisting that it was established so as to recognize, honour and celebrate lawyers who promote integrity, professionalism, and hard work, while adding commercial values and business development strategies. in organizations for the overall growth of the economy. He emphasized that despite the general economic challenges in the country.
Continuing, he said “Gone are the days when these organizations preferred to employ the services of international law firms to meet their sophisticated legal needs and handle complex transactions. Our research shows that the growth of Nigerian law firms and their impact in economic development is phenomenal. Today, we find many partnerships which are structured along the line of multinationals with corporate governance frameworks.”
Personalities expected to get awards this year are the chairman of Skye Bank, Dr. Tunde Ayeni; Professor Fidelis Odita, the first female advocate of Nigeria, Chief Mrs. Folake Sholanke SAN; Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN, Malam Yusuf Ali SAN, among other prominent and respected legal luminaries and professionals.