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How I handle being both an IP lawyer and a shoe-maker.

Every week, we talk to Nigerians around the world about money and how they make it.

This week features Samuel, a Lawyer, shoemaker and contract advisor. We talk about his career as an IP lawyer, and how he balances that with his shoe-making business.

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Could you please tell me about yourself and what you do?

My name is Samuel Abu. I’m a lawyer, and I work as a shoemaker and a contract advisor on the side. These are the things I do to make money.

What exactly do you do as a lawyer?

My interests are in intellectual property (IP) and data protection, so I am pretty much a lawyer in the tech space. I work with tech guys: I play an advisory role on the IP rights of their products, contracts, contract relationships with other tech companies, getting licenses to operate within the regulated spaces in Nigeria, and so forth.

That sounds interesting. Did you always want to be a lawyer?

When I became old enough to think of what I wanted to do, the first thing I wanted to be was a pilot. LOL

However, since my junior secondary school years, I made up my mind to study law. Although, at the time, for me, it just seemed like one of those prestigious professions.

So, what is your typical day as an IP Lawyer?

First off: Coffee! LOL. I require coffee before I resume work. 

You know, tech guys are always in a rush; They have an idea and want the product to be out immediately. However, they can not just jump into making the product without signing a contract – there is no telling what CBN or any other party will do. They want to “jump on a call” where they want explanations about what needs to be in place.

Now imagine this with three to five clients, keeping in mind that each agreement is peculiar. 

A good lawyer does not know every law, even though he knows a substantial part of it; a good lawyer knows where to find the law. So, before answering their questions on what needs to be in place, you have to read up and be on your toes.

You are a lawyer and a shoemaker. That’s an interesting pair. How did you start shoemaking?

It started in SS1. There was a skills acquisition program my mum was a part of (she is into the design and pattern drafting space). I attended it, learnt and made a few footwear; I started with slippers, graduated to sandals, and then started making shoes. Then I thought to myself, “yes, I am going to do this.” 

Another influencing factor was the time I went to Yaba to get shoes: I got them at a low cost, and it seemed like a good bargain for what I assumed was great quality. But to my surprise, two months in, they were worn out! That vexed me, and I thought, “you know what? forget this. I’ll just make my own”. However, I also knew that I would be practising law. 

I love making shoes, but knowing there would hardly be any time for it, it made sense to partner with trusted people to make them. They incorporate my ingenuity without sacrificing the quality.

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Alright, let’s dive into your finances. What was your idea of money growing up, and how has it changed now that you’re an adult?

I have always considered money as something good to have, and something I always want to have. My family was not the richest, but we were quite comfortable. If I needed money, I could walk up to my parents and ask. My moral compass was not defined by money or the lack of it. 

Now that I’m older, I hold the same views. Money should not define your values or relationships. Money is a commodity we work for and should eventually work for us. It should not push you to compromise on your values and integrity.

How would you describe your money habits?

With my spending, I go after the necessities. More often than not, I separate my wants from my needs, and I make sure that sometimes, I reward myself for hard work. From my monthly income, I have a budget for entertainment. I also budget for savings and investments – for me, it’s not about how small it is, but the consistency.

I make sure to pay my tithes. I can do that consistently because I have a rationale; if I can not manage 90% of that income, it’s a shame because 10% won’t make much of a difference.

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If you were to pick a financial superpower, what would it be?

Do you know those IG videos where people snap their fingers and their location changes? I want that with money. I want to snap my fingers and have like $15,000. It’ll be more interesting with the Infinity Gauntlet. LOL.

What would you consider a financial red flag?

That would have to be people spending their money on things they don’t need. It is more absurd when the value of what you’re buying is way above what you earn. It is pointless because the world is constantly evolving, and new stuff always emerge.      

It’s good to spoil yourself, but continuously spending your money on things you don’t need is a red flag.

Another sect is people who spend on things to give a false image of high status. I wish they understood that people do not care that much. Your focus should be more on how to increase your financial power instead of trying to convince people of the financial power you don’t have.

That makes a lot of sense. Finally, what advice would you give budding lawyers who have an interest in IP law?

Follow your passion! 

If you are really curious about it, you should read up because IP is wide. There is a vast ocean of knowledge to explore. Go to a place where they practice whatever branch of law you are interested in, and do not hold back; learn as much as you can. It’s a journey you get better at. 

Also, it’s never too early to start learning about what you want to practice, even if you are in your first year. You then build up your interest, as well as your wealth of knowledge. Your brain then begins to get into the nuanced conversations of the practice, and your perspective begins to change. This happens as a result of the knowledge you have gathered over time. 

Alright. Have you ever considered being a mentor to people with an interest in IP law?

Hmm…

I’m not the smartest, but I believe I’m realistic. So yeah, I could answer any question around these and feel free to reach me @thebeanielawyer or on LinkedIn. LOL. Just kidding, Twitter is fine.

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