On 24 January 2022, Osuntuyi & Tokan-Lawal Law (“OTL Law”) was formally registered as a law partnership between Adefoworola Olutope Tokan-Lawal and I. For me, the decision to go into partnership with Tope was a major step in the right direction. In the last twelve-plus months, I have learned so many lessons. In particular, I have confirmed that a successful partnership requires unrelenting commitment by partners who are also capable of balancing their strengths and weaknesses.
I met Tope in 2013 at the Nigerian Law School in Bwari. After our call to bar in November 2014, I started my own firm, while she went on to work for a couple of law firms in Lagos. During this period, we each gained meaningful legal experience across various areas of law practice and in life. We also stayed in touch and in December 2021 I approached her about starting a law partnership. After much discussion, we formed OTL Law. However, despite our years of experience, we still had so much to learn. Tope and I are individuals who share different ideologies, but we always come out with policies and plans that project the collective interest of the firm. I learned quickly that running a successful partnership requires absolute trust in your partner without which the block (partnership) will fail. For anyone seeking to start a partnership, here is my list of lessons/advice I believe will help you achieve success in your partnership and career:
- Trust your partner as if your life depends on it (professionally).
- Be transparent and honest with your partner.
- Learn to listen and reflect on your partner’s contributions and ideas.
- When your partner has superior arguments or ideas be humble enough to accept it.
- Know that a win for your partner is a win for you and the firm.
- Work very hard, even harder than you partner.
- Accept that, as humans, we have low moments. So whenever necessary, you may have to step up and double your workload and carry the partnership on your shoulders when your partner is down.
- There will be wins and losses, how you manage the losses reflects how far the partnership will go.
- Always encourage each other and pray for each other.
A partnership offers room for self-development, especially if you are the type that is willing to learn and adhere to corrections. We run OTL Law as a partnership of equals, we both share a sense of belonging, we learn from our mistakes and celebrate our successes as equals, and we do our best not to apportion blame but always seek to address issues. The wins are evident in the knowledge gained, milestones achieved, and broader knowledge bank with a deeper understanding of the rudiments of the law.
You cannot have a partner like mine and not want to strive for excellence. Every bit of her practice is excellent, and we can only build on that. In sum, it is essential to find someone who can complement you in law and in business, because a law firm is also a business.
We do not have losses, we have lessons.