The general consensus is that a good lawyer should have a slight edge of mystique, be dressed in unflattering colours and have an undesirable social life. His or her intellect on the other hand should be razor sharp with a penchant for carrying around an inordinate amount of documents and files.
But nowadays, lawyers come in shockingly unusual varieties.
Lola Oyedele, affectionately known as ‘Lola with the Duffel Bag’ is a typical example of a 21st century-type lawyer with the genes of a rap artiste and the mind of a loan shark.
Lola is a Partner at Technolawgical Partners a boutique law firm that focuses on Technology & Cyberspace, Startups & creative contents, social Innovations and CSR in Africa.
Her unconventional approach to entertainment law is tainted in the new frontiers of pop culture representation, which is opening up as African music takes front stage in global music proceedings.
Lola Oyedele who is proficient in music publishing, music business consulting, intellectual property profiling, as well as the general nature of the film production process.
But that’s a very small fraction of what she does.
She takes complex technical ideas and distils them into user-friendly visuals to improve the workings in the entertainment industry. Her keen and innovative insights in the areas of negotiation, Music Business, Publishing and Intellectual Property development has made her a force to be reckoned with in her field.
So she has been around the block quite a few times.
Her overall client base makes up an influential portion of the movers and shakers of the entertainment industry, but this in no way intimidates the young lawyer who insists that clients come in threes.
“There are three types of clients; the good, the bad and the ugly.
The good ones are always your guy, they call you when they need things, you people work well together and the relationship is cool. Even when you disagree, you agree to disagree.
Then the bad ones. They can be rogue. But maybe they know what they want, but they don’t know how to put across what they want. You can tell them let’s go here and the next minute they are elsewhere. They always own up and come back when they mess up.
The ugly ones when they bring their ugly side you simply dispatch them and say you can’t represent them because in the entertainment industry, all we have is our integrity.”
This categorization helps her pinpoint and engage clients effectively but she draws a strict line when client representation takes a swipe at integrity.
“If you are making eccentric demands and I feel you are being unreasonable, I’m just going to decline to represent you. My integrity and name is better than letting someone soil my name. If you are not going to take my advice, then we can’t work together. I am not going to force you because I am your lawyer,” she explains.
Her journey into entertainment law wasn’t without key people who helped her find her footing along its uncertain terrain.
“To be honest, there weren’t a lot of people but shout out to the late Tosin Buknor. I mean she wasn’t an entertainment lawyer but she was a lawyer who was in entertainment. Some of the people who I learnt from, I still work with. They are my partners now but they had a year or two of knowledge before me; shout out to Foza and Iredumare. Also, there was Olumide Mustapha, Osagie, Moyo Shomade, Uche Udoh, to mention a few,” she adds.
She is also the founder of Duffle Bag Cafe, a legal outfit that focuses on entertainment and media business. The brand started off with weekly legal conversations online but has now matured into a legal blog and podcast. On whether the platform is a strategy to bring attention to herself and in turn convert listeners to clients, she explains.
“Duffel bag cafe did not start out to gain clients. It has never been about it for me. It actually started over drinks with my friend and I realised that I go to places or I talk to some people and the basic things about legal issues they don’t know, and am like I thought everybody knew. I realize that people don’t know; because I know, doesn’t mean everybody knows it too. So, it’s my own way of giving back to the people that say legal advice is expensive. Those things I give up. I know on a normal day if you want to talk to me, you’d have to consult at a fee. But this is me giving it to you for free, at no amount. And yeah, it’s never been for money and you’d be surprised that even most of my clients don’t come from Duffel bag cafe. Maybe one or two stumbled on my blog after they’ve known me, not before.”
The naming convention Lola Oyedele applies to her online legal pursuit, ‘Duffel Bag Cafe legal’ isn’t her only unconventional trait.
Unconventional would aptly summarize Lola’s many home-front eccentricities. Her home life revolves around cartoons (SpongeBob, to be exact), football (both real and virtual), video games and some electric pad drumming. This isn’t typical ‘lawyerly’ relaxation routines but nothing is conventional around Lola.
Except maybe for her clients.
She agrees that their bringing her referrals and in turn more clients is the best thing they have done for her.
“The worse thing is disrespect. I don’t like disrespect. The worst is when your client goes behind you to the other party and blames it on ‘the lawyer’, making you look stupid.”
The last Duffel Bag Cafe event was in January, before Covid-19 changed everything, but Lola Oyedele says it’s coming back this September as a virtual event; after a few tweaks here and there.
Lola Oyedele has had to deal with almost every influential industry player, one way or the other, even if they are not on her high-prized retainer list.
Digital Music Commerce and Exchange Limited (DMC), Incubation Factory Entertainment Limited, The Zone Agency, the Estate of Haruna Ishola, the estate of Olaitan Olaonipekun aka Dagrin, Sarz and Teni Makanaki, are some of her more prominent clients.
“I am learning and unlearning every day,” is her way of dealing with challenging situations and her advice to emerging entertainment lawyers is, “Don’t do it because everyone is. It’s all glam from the outside but when you come in, it’s a lot of work. Be sure that is what you want to do because you might burn out. There are still days I wake up and say, maybe I should be a footballer instead. If you are sure that this is what you want to do. Don’t listen to people because even in the law space, we are still not respected as we should.”
Lola Oyedele’s take on the artiste -manager dynamics, like everything about her practise, is unsurprisingly avant-garde. She believes that, “the reason most people have fights with their management is that they feel that the person is no longer connected to their vision. So, you need to understand that partnership or management is a marriage. When two people are in a marriage, it means they have to be in-sync. You can see his or her vision and they can also see yours.”
This article was written by Henri ‘Yire; connect on Instagram with him here