Opeyemi Longe is indeed an outstanding young Lawyer. In 2012 he emerged the first student to graduate with a first class degree from the Faculty of Law of the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko, Ondo State. Longe, who was admitted to the Abuja campus of the Nigerian Law School in October 2013 also set himself part by being one of the four students to obtain a first class in the 2013/2014 set. He was awarded the Council of Legal Education Star Prize and the Best Overall Performance award amongst others.
Opeyemi is our YBA this week. The aim YBA is to showcase young exceptional lawyers who are, or planning to specialize/form a niche for themselves in various areas of Law both in Nigeria and abroad. It will also showcase young Lawyers doing amazing things in our country.
BA: Hello Opeyemi, thank you for granting this interview.
OPEYEMI: It’s my pleasure.
BA: So first things first, did you always want to study law?
OPEYEMI: Yes, a degree in Law has always been my desire. I opted for Law because, for me, that is the best I can do as an art student in my secondary school. Apart from that, there is so much honour and respect that comes with being a lawyer in our society and this I realized through my father being a lawyer.
BA: How did you find your Law School experience to be?
OPEYEMI: At resumption, I had great expectations from the system and I can say that these expectations were met to a large extent. For me, coming to the Law School would mean having to meet different students from different universities in Nigeria and beyond and having to develop interactions and relationships with them. Apart from this, coming here would also imply forging ahead in my legal education particularly my dream of becoming a lawyer. I was at that time also expectant of a different and perhaps better approach to educating people. Thus, during my stay at the Law School I met students from almost all part of the country and even from beyond especially the Cameroonians. Interactions with a few of them broadened my understanding of people from diverse background and cultures. On the academic side too, it was a great experience having to discuss with intelligent minds, some with First Class honours from their universities.
BA: Well done on your First Class grade! Everyone knows that Law School is not easy. Can you give any tips on achieving a good result for those who are or about to start Law School?
OPEYEMI: Hmmm. The programme at the Law School was actually not a very easy one and was in fact different from the past experience at the University considering how wide the modules were. I recall for example that in Civil Litigation, I did in a day almost what I did in a semester at the University in Nigerian Law of Evidence. Be that as it may, I will say that graduating with a First Class and becoming the best overall student was principally by the grace of God. In addition, my success was achieved by hard work and discipline. I purchased and read carefully at least two recommended textbooks on each of the modules. I worked closely with the lesson plan issued by the School and ensured that I read ahead the topic for the following day and carried out any of the pre-class assignments. Once this was done, comprehension of the discussions in class was easy and that made a lot of difference.
BA: What area of law do you take interest or specialize in?
OPEYEMI: I really do not have an area of specialization at the moment as you will agree with me that specializing in a field of law may not be an immediate option. However, I take great interest in commercial related aspects of law and through this interest I have always topped the class in such areas right form my university years. Interestingly, I was the best student in Corporate Law Practice at the Law School. So my specialization will tilt most likely in the field of corporate and commercial law practice ultimately.
BA: Is there anyone you consider your role model in the legal profession?
OPEYEMI: I have at various times been faced with providing an answer to a question like this but the fact is that I do not really have a person as my role model in the profession. I however find a role model not in persons but in what they possess by way of hard work, diligence, confidence, humility and above all integrity. These features define what I love in a lawyer and not necessarily a particular person in the profession.
BA: Do you have long-term goals? If so where do you hopefully see yourself in 10 years?
OPEYEMI: Yes, I do. I see myself becoming a Professor of Law in ten years from now.
BA: That’s great. How then are you working on achieving these goals?
OPEYEMI: I currently have offers to lecture in two universities and the option of lecturing at the Law School is also a very open one. But before taking this offer I will be proceeding on my postgraduate programmes starting with my LLM in September 2015 and then my Ph. D thereafter. This will enhance my professorial drive within the next ten years.
BA: If you don’t mind, can you give me a brief profile on where you work?
OPEYEMI: At the moment, I work with Afe Babalola & Co. otherwise called Emmanuel Chambers. I work at the Ibadan Head Office. The firm was founded in 1965 by Aare Afe Babalola, SAN and has, apart from its head office, functional offices in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt. It has varied successful and enviable practice in the areas of oil and gas, election petition, banking, commercial practice, chieftaincy, land and criminal cases. At the top echelon is Aare Afe Babalola, SAN (Principal Partner), Adebayo Adenipekun, SAN (Managing Partner), Olu Daramola, SAN (Deputy Managing Partner) and about 6 Partners. There are about forty other lawyers in the firm most of who rank among the best minds in the profession.
BA: Are you a member of any society or group in furtherance of your career?
OPEYEMI: No, I do not currently belong to any group or society.
BA: What are your hobbies?
OPEYEMI: I love writing, reading and meeting people.
BA: Favourite book and movie
OPEYEMI: I love John Grisham’s novels generally but aside this, I love reading historical and political books. However, I do not have a flare for movies and will therefore be unable to mention any favourite movie.
BA: Thank you Opeyemi, it’s been great talking with you.