Meet Our Executives
AYA is an association of young arbitration practitioners in Africa, under the age of 40, founded by Abayomi Okubote, who was inspired after his UK secondment by ILFA in 2015, and started with other young practitioners sharing a passion for arbitration. AYA is open to young practitioners having professional links to Africa and organizes events and programs to develop young arbitrators and to give them a face within the arbitration space.
The idea of the association stemmed from the realisation that arbitration in Africa is perceived as a “closed shop” specially made and open to senior practitioners, thus difficult for young practitioners to fully benefit from them. AYA brings a new dimension to the arbitration community and showcases young talents in Africa. It provides an avenue for senior practitioners to mentor the younger generation, networking opportunities with leading international practitioners, and steady progress along the learning curve.
AYA is duly registered as a not-for-profit association under the laws of Nigeria.
MISSION AND OBJECTIVES
To provide a platform for the young members of the arbitration community in Africa to meet, exchange ideas and learn from peers and more experienced arbitrators/arbitration practitioners;
To provide a special opportunity to network, develop their knowledge and skills, develop mentorships, stay informed about developments in arbitration and get nominated for arbitrations;
To organize events, training seminars, and networking programs for young arbitrators in Africa;
To facilitate secondment/exchange programs for young arbitrators in international arbitration institutions and law firms in Africa and United Kingdom;
To encourage members to write articles for distribution amongst local and international law firms.
AYA Mentoring Program Testimonials
“The AYA mentoring programme has created a fantastic platform to explore more career opportunities available to young African lawyers interested in commercial arbitration. I have been introduced to some domestic and regional arbitration institutions, which may assist in providing the needed professional support to fully explore my potentials. My mentor has been immensely supportive in providing constructive guidance on the right steps to follow towards achieving my professional aspirations. Generally, my experience so far has been thought provoking, insightful and remarkable.” Mentee: Joy Oti Mentor: Rashida Abdulai (CEO, Strand Sahara, London)Joy Oti
“Working as an Advisor, Rule of law in an international government organisation, which aims to support the administration of criminal justice in Nigeria, saw me grappling with the applicability of ADR in the Nigerian Criminal Justice System. My mentor - Mr. John Fellas, Partner with Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP, New York, gave an interesting idea on how arbitrators can be involved in the plea bargaining process. He suggested the use of retired judges (acting as neutral arbiters for the purpose of the plea bargaining procedure) who will have a great deal of credibility in offering an assessment of what may happen if no plea bargain is reached or in comparing a potential plea deal with the likely outcome at trial. This interesting perspective on such a sensitive topic was among the many benefits that the AYA mentorship programme gave to me. I am happy to have met Mr. Fellas and the knowledge I gained in the programme has positively impacted my job in no small measure.” Mentee: Kate Okoh Mentor: John Fellas (Partner, Hughes Hubbard & Reed, New York)Kate Okoh
“After being paired with Michael Polkinghorne as a mentee, I was happy to find that we have common grounds. Michael’s arbitration practice involves dispute in the areas of energy, project finance, and infrastructure. He also had a transactional background in energy and infrastructure development fields. Having cut my legal teeth in these areas at Olaniwun Ajayi LP in the early years of my career as a transactional lawyer, the initial conversation with Michael was as smooth as a waveless sea. He made me feel at home right from the start. We communicated via emails and on the phone. He always makes sure he responds to my emails. His was an open and direct access. I could call his phone anytime. He made that clear from the beginning also, and I thought that was awesome. Out of his volition, Michael introduced me to Ank Santens, White & Case LLP's dispute partner in New York, through whom I got connected with Paul Friedland, and met Damien Nyer. Damien was just as unassuming as Michael. Through the AYA mentorship program, I have not only benefitted and learnt from one of the doyens of global arbitration, I have gained a friend. Thank you, Michael.” Mentor: Michael Polkinghorne (Partner, White & Case, Paris)Femi Gbede