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19 April 2021

Top Nigerian law firm Banwo & Ighodalo promotes three to partnership

The 15-partner firm underlines commitment to 'organic growth' as Nigeria's legal market gains international focus

By Madeline Anderson

Chinedum Umeche, Ayodele Adeyemi-Faboya and Akindeji Oyebode

Banwo & Ighodalo's new partners Chinedum Umeche, Ayodele Adeyemi-Faboya and Akindeji Oyebode Images courtesy of Banwo & Ighodalo

Leading Lagos-based Nigerian law firm Banwo & Ighodalo (B&I) has elevated three lawyers to its partnership, demonstrating the firm’s ongoing commitment to organic growth amidst a heightened international focus on Nigeria’s burgeoning legal market. 

Chinedum Umeche, a commercial litigation and arbitration expert, and Ayodele Adeyemi-Faboya, a corporate specialist and former Clifford Chance associate, both join the partnership after a decade with B&I. 

Umeche has served as the firm’s litigation, arbitration and alternative dispute resolution group head since 2017. His work spans several key industries including energy, financial services, FMCG and telecommunications. 

Adeyemi-Faboya, meanwhile, was also promoted to a leadership role within the firm’s corporate, securities and finance practice in 2017, having gained extensive experience in areas including commercial law, corporate governance and regulatory compliance, M&A and project finance and development. 

Energy and natural resources practice group leader Akindeji Oyebode is also being made up 12 years after starting his career with the firm as an associate. An expert in advising both domestic and international clients on matters relating to all aspects of oil, gas, power and financing transactions, Oyebode also spent time as a visiting associate at Baker McKenzie’s South African outpost in 2015. 

B&I’s latest round of partner promotions is the second largest in its history, following a four-strong round that saw the admission of corporate lawyers Olumide Osundolire, Isa Alade and Azeezah Muse-Sadiq as well as regulatory compliance specialist Toyin Bashir to the firm’s partnership network in 2017. 

Commenting on her appointment, Adeyemi-Faboya said admission to the partnership at such a “critical” time for the Nigerian legal landscape may prove to be “challenging” as local firms move to remain competitive amidst increased international focus on the sector. 

“The face of law practice in Nigeria is changing – we’ve witnessed quite a few offshore collaborations and expect to see more,” she said, adding that she anticipates the opportunity to usher in a new era “innovatively” alongside the firm’s wider partnership network. 

The new trio will each become an equity partner effective May, bringing the B&I’s total partner tally to 15. Nearly all of the partners joined the firm as junior associates and moved up the ranks over time, save for the two founding partners, in what the firm described as a “clear demonstration of its culture of organic growth.

As Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria has emerged as a coveted destination for international law firms looking to secure a foothold in the African legal market. So far, the number of global firms that have successfully entered the market has been limited due to leading local firms’ reluctance to relinquish their independence. 

Earlier this month, Dentons agreed to combine with Nigerian practice Adepetun Caxton-Martins Agbor & Segun (ACAS-Law), becoming only the second global law firm to secure a presence in the country. The only comparable deal to date was conducted in 2017 by DLA Piper, which added OlajidOyewole to its African alliance, DLA Piper Africa.  

In January, top tier Nigerian firm Aluko & Oyebode announced its co-founder, Gbenga Oyebode, was stepping down as chair, ushering in a new leadership team

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