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Image of Joba Akinola
Image of Joba Akinola

Joba Akinola

Senior Associate in the Projects, Energy, Natural Resources and Infrastructure (PENRI) team.

How long have you been at A&O and what were you doing prior to joining us?

I joined A&O in November 2021. Prior to this, I worked at a leading law firm in Lagos, Nigeria, and my practice was focused on project development and finance in the energy and infrastructure sectors.

What initially attracted you to A&O and what did you feel set us apart?

A&O’s global brand and track record of involvement on the largest and most impactful deals in my sphere of practice were initial points of attraction for me, as they signalled that this was a platform where I could build the kind of practice that I had always desired. I had worked alongside various A&O teams in my past life and I really admired the strong intellect and the depth of expertise displayed by the lawyers, and it was clear that I wanted to be part of this great team.

What were your perceptions of A&O prior to joining us, and how did these compare to the reality once you started working here?

Prior to joining , I thought of A&O as quite a behemoth of a firm, a place where one could easily get lost in the ‘crowd’. However, after joining, I discovered that the firm has a strong sense of community, and there are always people looking out for you, committed to supporting your integration into and growth within the group.

How do you feel A&O has changed since you joined?

The firm has not changed so much (after all, I only joined towards the end of 2021) but I have seen a lot of developments, especially on the AD&S side – with different tech solutions that simplify processes and enable efficient service delivery to our clients. These solutions are essentially focused on ensuring that our clients get even better value, but also help minimise administrative/clerical hassles for lawyers so that great work can be done more quickly

What was your first ever job? Was working in the legal sector always your ultimate goal?

My first ever job (not counting serving as my father’s personal assistant) was as a summer intern at a small law firm in Nigeria. Growing up, I only ever considered (helped along by strong parental suggestion, of course) becoming a doctor or a lawyer. By the time I was midway through high school, it seemed clear to me that I would take the law route. Fun fact: I briefly flirted with the idea of becoming a singer/rapper, but thank goodness for good friends who helped me realise that my talent did not exactly match my desire!

We are proud at A&O to offer an environment where people can be themselves … What gives you a sense of “belonging” at A&O?

From day one at A&O I have had a strong sense of affinity with the firm’s key values – being instinctively thoughtful, collectively ambitious, insightfully inventive and refreshingly open.

What’s the best thing about the team you work in?

The sheer depth of expertise that is available across the team. There is, quite literally, a true expert for every single issue you might come across, so that no matter how challenging the question is, the answer is always an email or phone call away…and for a lawyer with my kind of practice, that is truly invaluable.

What three things have enabled you to excel during your time at A&O?

First, the highly collaborative culture, which means that people here are generally easy to work with. Second, flexible working arrangements often mean that non-work commitments are not disruptive to work, and vice-versa. Third, the great tech and support personnel / systems available here have helped minimise or manage those little frustrations that lawyers have to occasionally deal with.

Which networks, extra-curricular activities, and/or pro bono and community investment initiatives have you become involved with since joining A&O (such as DE&I/sports teams/music etc.)? What have you valued most about these opportunities?

I play football (another area where I have a passion-talent mismatch) with the banking team once a week. I have also recently become involved in the REACH Buddy Scheme, which seeks to help promote racial and ethnic diversity within the firm by pairing law students with mentors within the firm.

If you could spend some time in any of A&O’s international offices, where would you most like to go and why?

New York – it’s the greatest city in the world.

What advice would you give to anyone considering joining A&O?

Join. Send in that application, or say yes to that offer. It can’t possibly be a wrong choice – and even if you end up changing your mind, your time here will surely see you grow as a person and a lawyer.