As a student in the Nigerian Law school, we were told to work hard in order grades which, according to them, gave us opportunities to high paying jobs. So, many of us took that advice and burned the midnight oil, dreaming of graduating with nothing less than a second class upper. We were also thought to send out applications to as many firms as possible with well-drafted resumes and cover letters, which we did. They also said as young lawyers who did not have any work experience, being part of organizations before graduation would set us apart. I was happy because I had worked with AIESEC and was also part of a Non-Governmental Organization called Radiate Africa Empowerment Initiative, and had enough volunteer and internship experiences. I was so sure I was going to get picked.
So I applied to a minimum of thirty firms in Lagos. I thought I had enough network to help me push through the application process; guess what! I lied. Months after I sent applications, I barely got callbacks, attended some interviews, and the pay they offered sounded ridiculous.
The most frustrating thing was when the HR of one of your top firms demanded “something” to help fast-track my application. I refused; even though it sounded like a great offer, I knew that I had automatically sold my freedom for good once I agreed to pay that money. So I was home, no juicy offers, nothing.
I finally secured a spot in a law firm in Lagos. I was sad because I really wanted to work with the tier 1 firms. I prayed to God to help me push through and show me why I was there in the first place. It turned out that my boss was an amazing man, he was supportive and encouraged all the time.
Due to the size of my firm, I barely had enough work on my table. I had a lot of free time to myself. During this period, I decided to think of a law field that I would want to specialize in. Thankfully, I had friends in different areas, so I talked to them and caught an interest in technology law and intellectual property law( tech-law being my favourite field). I started coding, learned UI/UX design, then enrolled in different classes. Some were free, and I paid for others. I carried out a lot of research during this period and perfected my drafting skills too. At this point, I knew that to succeed as a tech lawyer, and I needed to focus more on the intersection between technology and law and not get to do the actual programming itself. I also understood that I needed an environment focused on my chosen field and pushed me to become better.
After service, my firm retained, and it was a great offer since it came with free accommodation, which was very close to the office. But I knew that wasn’t where I belonged. I decided to volunteer for Legal Aid, which is a legal-tech startup focused on pro-bono. With legal aid, I learned more about legal tech startups and joined conversations in that field.
One day I went to LinkedIn and decided to shoot a professional shot with Nigeria’s leading technology law firm. Three interviews later, I got the job. Yay!
So here are some lessons I learned;
1.You can grow in any environment.
2. Shoot those professional shots. Send your applications directly to partners of those firms you want to work with
3. Do not miss the opportunity of grooming yourself.
4. Talk to seniors who already have an ex[perience of what you intend to do.
5. Pray without ceasing- this is important. It’s important to know what God wants for you and to know that you are following the path he has destined for you. You also need His favour because where connections fail, God is always the advocate who speaks for us in board rooms where our names are mentioned, and He ensures we get the best.
6. Do not give up.
7. Know what you want and pursue it with everything in you. Resist the urge to “settle.”
Good luck and I can’t wait to see you thrive.

Awuese Iorchor is a Nigerian legal practitioner, with an interest in technology law, Intellectual property law and Privacy/Data Protection law.