Please give a brief introduction of yourself.
I am Damilola Wright. I currently work as an associate at Banwo & Ighodalo. I graduated from the Faculty of Law at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) in 2014, and was a member (and one time, research director) of the Mooting Society at UNILAG during my time at the university.
When did you gain admission into UNILAG and when did you graduate?
I got into UNILAG in 2010, after completing a two-year A-level programme at Bridge House College. On the strength of my A-level results, I gained admission into the university; as such I was a “direct entry” student. My “direct entry” status meant that I spent 4 years instead of 5 studying law, and graduated in 2014.
When did you join The Mooting Society and why?
I joined the Mooting Society in 2012 – During my final year at Bridge House College, I visited a couple of law schools in England and observed that mooting formed an integral part of the legal training for law students. When my dream of pursuing an undergraduate law programme in England did not materialise, I resolved that I would seek opportunities to not only moot but to also test my legal skills against those of my counterparts in other jurisdictions. In addition, as a firm believer in self-development, I saw mooting as a tool to improve on my legal skills beyond the walls of the classroom.
You were indispensable to the Society and are someone the Society will always boast of. What activities did you partake in and which did you love the most?
Before joining the law faculty at UNILAG, I was pretty clear in my mind that I wanted to moot and that was really the only activity I engaged in within the Mooting Society. Mooting was a thrill because I interacted with legal issues that I had not been exposed to in the classroom – this sharpened by research ability and my eye for detail. In addition, preparing briefs of argument and presenting these arguments orally, honed both my writing skills, and art of persuasion.
Did you represent the society in any competitions? What did you learn from these experiences?
I participated in a number of competitions as a representative of the Mooting Society, the law faculty, and the country. My first real experience with mooting was in 2012 at the All African Human Rights Moot Court Competition in Mozambique. I was in my 3rd year and it was quite nerve-racking because we (myself and my team mate) were competing against about a 100 (hundred) other students from some of the best universities in Africa. I remember reading the facts of the “moot case” countless times, as well as reviewing and restating my arguments in front any mirror I could find. Thankfully, our hard work paid off as we were awarded the Best West African Team and I was named the 3rd Best Oralist. In my final year, I went on to participate in two mooting competitions – the Simmons Cooper Advocacy Development Challenge (SCAD Compete) and the maiden edition of the Commonwealth International Criminal Justice Moot Court Competition in London. These competitions were particularly challenging because I had to manage preparing for these competitions while studying for final exams and writing a dissertation. I emerged 1st Prize Winner at SCAD Compete, which was my first local moot court competition. Competing with the brightest law students in Nigeria made me truly proud of the quality that still exists within the Nigerian legal education system. Shortly after SCAD Compete, I was one of three students (from other Nigerian universities) selected to represent Nigeria at the Commonwealth International Criminal Justice Moot Court Competition, and this was very humbling. I was able to expand my professional network as I met leading international law judges, professors, and students. I was also recognised for having the Best Written Arguments in the Respondent Category at this competition.
All of my experiences with mooting taught me that when the will to prepare, the will to win, and God’s favour coincide, we can truly be invincible.
Were you involved in other extracurricular activities?
I have always been passionate about teaching and mentoring so as an undergraduate, I was a volunteer and team leader at No Limits – a youth mentorship initiative where we organised a series of events aimed at shaping future leaders that will challenge the status quo in Nigeria. I was also a researcher and writer at the Young African Research Arena (YARA), which was a forum for discussion and writing on Pan-African issues. Essay writing was also enjoyable and I participated in a few essay writing competitions while at university. During school holidays, I would from time to time, engage in internships at law firms and NGO’s.
How did you balance all these activities with the many demands of school?
I think it all came down to perspective and discipline. My goal, while at the university, was to be an academically sound student with practical life experiences that would hopefully sharpen my skills, make me a well-rounded professional and ultimately a better human being. Achieving this objective meant that I had to adopt a regimented routine; but I also created time to relax and hang out with friends whether it was seeing a movie or having lunch at a favourite “Bukka”.
You learnt a lot through The Mooting Society. Has this knowledge been of any use to you in your professional career?
Definitely. Although I am currently a finance lawyer and not a litigation attorney, the skills I garnered through participating in mooting exercises and the rigour associated with the entire mooting process, have served me well in my professional career. My legal research and drafting, as well as negotiation skills as a finance lawyer have been positively impacted as a result of analytical thinking, writing, and oratory abilities honed through mooting.
What are you most thankful to the society for?
I am thankful for the thorough training, and the platform that the society afforded me to thrive. I am also grateful for the support I received from members of the Faculty such as Professor Oyelowo Oyewo, Dr. Jumoke Oduwole, and Ms. Edefe Ojomo during my time as an undergraduate and as a member of the society.
Any final words of advice/encouragement?
Strive to become the very best version of yourself, never stop learning, and always autograph your work in excellence. Peter Drucker said (and I concur) that: “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” We all have a responsibility to live deliberately and purposefully.
Interview conducted by Nadine Okoeguale, PRO II 16/17