Top Nigerian firm transitions from ‘founder-led’ status as it looks to invest in legaltech and new practice areas
Gbenga Oyebode MFR, the co-founding partner of Aluko & Oyebode, one of the largest integrated law firms in Nigeria, has stepped down as Chairman, Management Board of the firm.
This development has ushered in a new leadership team at the top national firm.
The shake-up has been dubbed by the firm as representing its transition from being founder-led to becoming an institution. This has seen finance specialist Reginald Udom succeeding Kofo Dosekun as managing partner. Dosekun, in turn, has take over as chairperson of the firm, while Oyebode will remain as ‘of counsel’.
According to Udom, “the firm is at an inflection point due to the way technological innovation is changing the way we deliver legal services. And because of a gradual shift away from traditional practice area from a focus on the oil and gas sector, probably the most significant revenue earners in Nigeria for decades, due to our natural resources.”
He added that “To sustain our leading status, we will invest in the new growth areas like fintech and equip our younger lawyers to meet client demand in these sectors. We will also invest in the latest legal tech tools to enable us provide innovative services to our clients in a changing world.”
In 1993, Oyebode and his friend, Bankole Olumide Aluko, SAN (who died in February 2002), founded Aluko & Oyebode. The firm has 17 partners and 85 lawyers spread across three offices in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt. It enjoys tier one states across a range of key practice areas by the legal directories.
Oyebode served as managing partner from the firm’s founding until 2013, when he became chairman. He has also served on the board of a number of businesses in Nigeria, including Nestle Nigeria. In December, he became chairman of the Nigerian unit of British healthcare brand PZ Cussons.
Dosekun, who took over as managing partner in 2013, said: “Oyebode has been a visionary to both Nigerian as well as African law firms, continually innovating and reinventing Aluko & Oyebode as we transition from a founder-led organisation to an institution.”
Udom joined the firm as a law graduate and has amassed more than 18 years of experience in international debt finance transactions, working on a range of financial, energy and infrastructure deals. His clients include sponsors, lenders, issuers and underwriters. He has been a partner at Aluko & Oyebode for the past decade and is already a member of the firm’s management board.
The retirement of successful law firm founders has long been regarded as a key landmark for law firms requiring careful planning. One example of a similar transition came last September when Xiao Wei, who founded the top Chinese law firm JunHe in 1989, announced he was ‘passing the torch’ to the next generation of lawyers with Warren Hua succeeding him as managing partner amid a wider leadership shake-up.