My internship experience at Banwo & Ighodalo
Published on 17 October 2022
Josephine writes about her internship experience in her home country of Nigeria
I commenced my summer holiday in Nigeria with the desire to gain a balance of leisure and intellectual work. In pursuit of this, I considered obtaining legal experience in a Nigerian law firm and Banwo & Ighodalo was perfect for this. The firm’s one-month internship rotational programme enabled me to intern in four practice groups, namely Litigation, Intellectual Property & Technology, Private Equity, and Corporate & Commercial groups. I would be summarizing my experience in each practice group.
Valuable and insightful are both words that understate my experience with the litigation practice group. It was truly wholesome and remarkable. Having to attend a riveting divorce trial at the High Court and an employment trial in the Industrial Court made me familiar with courtroom etiquette and see how the theoretical aspects of the law are translated practically. During both trials, I took notes on what transpired, and I was eventually told by the applicant’s counsel in the divorce trial to type out my notes and submit them to her. I also did research work on various areas of law such as finding caselaw on consequential amendments of pleadings as well as searching for points of law and case law on appointment of a receiver and debt restructuring assigned to my colleague and I. Working with my colleague enhanced my collaborative and my communication skills, as we had to work together to compose an impressive research piece. Studying English Law in the UK, this research assignment allowed me to familiarize myself with Nigerian laws such as the Companies and Allied Matters Act 2020 (CAMA 2020) and the Nigerian Weekly Law Report. I also did research on Anti-Suit Relief in English Law assigned by a partner at the firm. Conducting this research improved my legal research skills and my writing skills. It also propelled me to think out of the box on how to provide accurate and swift answers to my research hypothesis. I also attended litigation meetings on Thursdays where all the associates mention upcoming cases and pending tasks to do. I particularly learnt a lot from a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, who gave advice on cross-examination tactics and litigation generally.
Unfortunately, I only spent one day in the Intellectual Property and Technology practice group due to a public holiday. Nonetheless, I still learnt a lot from my one-day experience, as I utilized the opportunity I was given. Intellectual Property law is one of the modules I selected for my third year and picking this practice group allowed me to research on different intellectual property rights and understand how these rights are protected by the law. I was asked by my supervisor to research on a textile company that had registered its trademarks under class 24 of the Nigerian Online Trademark Journal. Three of their registered trademarks were very similar to some trademarks initially registered by another renowned textile company. Hence, a notice of opposition was filed to that effect. However, the address of the smaller textile company registered in the journal varied from their actual address. So, I researched online to find their actual address, their attorney, and other details about the company and their trademark. During this process, I came across terms such as Nice’s classification which I found out are categories of industries in the trademark journal. Also, during subsequent weeks, I joined my colleagues in completing the tasks given to them by associates in the Intellectual property department.
During my one-week experience at the Private Equity practice group, I was told by an associate to draft a Memorandum of Understanding between a barbershop and a spirits company alongside my colleague. This task required us to read the content of the contract between both parties, review a random template of a Memorandum of Understanding and translate what we read in the contract into the format of an MOU. This was not a difficult task for us; however, it was my first time drafting such an agreement, therefore, I had to search for the criteria for an MOU to ensure I did an efficient job. Subsequently, I was also required to discover the renewal period of expatriate quotas which is 3 years according to the Guidelines on the Administration and Renewal of Expatriate Quotas published by the Federal Ministry of Interiors. This research exposed me to statutes such as the Immigration Act 2015 and the Immigration Regulation 2017. I was also told to find the answer within 15 minutes. Therefore, this required me to be fast paced. On some occasions when the associates in this practice group were not available, I asked for tasks from other departments. For example, I asked for research work from the Energy Department, and I was told to write a two paged summary on Frontier Exploration. I then searched for the provisions for frontier exploration in the Petroleum Industry Act 2021 and read articles on the subject. It was a challenging but interesting task, and I truly enjoyed it.
Corporate and Commercial
Working in the Corporate and Commercial practice group concluded my one-month internship at Banwo and Ighodalo. My colleagues and I were initially assigned a research task on the admissibility of digital signatures. We found some sections in the Evidence Act 2011, The Cybercrime Act 2015 and The Electronic Transaction Act 2017. We also had to research on the concept of encrypted signatures and find which companies have provisions for these types of signatures in Nigeria. This task enhanced my teamwork skills as we all had to individually and collectively play roles to ensure the correct answers were provided. Furthermore, our supervisor gave us tasks in which I was assigned to review the Amended Regulation on Investment of Pension Fund Assets and create a compliance sheet including the relevant regulations and questions relating to these regulations to ensure the client has met the requirements. Prior to this task, I had little knowledge of what a compliance sheet was until I encountered this term and researched it further. I also asked my supervisor for clarity to be sure I was doing the right thing. When my colleagues and I weren’t given any tasks, we asked for work from the Private Equity group, and we were told to edit two tables of issues for a custody agreement and a trust deed. Additionally, we were requested to research on the information/ documents that shareholders are entitled to by the law. I was also told by a partner to read a printed commentary on the Trial of King Charles I. Finally, on the last day, I researched on changes of directors, changes in shareholding (reduction and increase in share capital or allotment of shares) in CAMA 2020, work permit and annual compliance requirements of companies for the Capital Market Department.
Overall, I enjoyed my experience at Banwo and Ighodalo. I specifically liked the fact that we could rotate practice groups because it provided me with an opportunity to explore various areas of law.
Written by Josephine Abimbola Ibiwoye, English Law LLB