Nigerian lawyers on LinkedIn: new spin on the old scam?

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Update: ILS Attorneys responds below; Mr. Akinwole is apparently real, and his friends are unhappy that I posted this without first visiting Nigeria and looking him up to make sure he existed before posting.

I have started to notice a few LinkedIn users recently who say they are attorneys from Nigeria or other African countries. Mr. Abayomi Akinwole, for example. I do now know whether Mr. Akinwole is real, but a search for “ILS Attorneys Nigeria”, the firm and country he purports to be from, turns up nothing but his LinkedIn profile.

So is this a clever ploy to draw in people willing to send off retainer checks, or is it evidence that the internet is finally allowing the global networking we have been hoping for?

I don’t know, but it does surprise me that someone who is “hip” enough to be on LinkedIn would not also have a website for the law firm at which he is a partner, so I am suspicious. And curious.

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  • ILS Attorneys

    Our attention has been drawn to this blog by a friend of our firm.
    Please note that this response is really for the benefit of our current and potential clients who may have, or will come across this posting. We have no previous interaction with Mr. Sam Glover, and we certainly do not feel that we need to justify ourselves to him. Nevertheless, we are lawyers who depend on the confidence of our clients and are therefore compelled to respond as follows:
    We note that Mr. Glover is or to use his terminology “purports to be” a lawyer. It is hard to believe that someone who claims to have legal training would commit himself so publicly to such wild generalization and strong defamatory statements based on whatever cursory process of verification that he might have used to ‘search’ for our firm and its Senior Partner.
    It is also disquieting to see a lawyer show such poor command of logic and obvious ignorance of his subject matter. How does not having a website mean that you are a scam artist? How does stating that one is a lawyer on LinkedIn, and not having a website mean that you are not a lawyer? In Nigeria, the professional qualification for lawyers is the Qualifying Certificate and registration at the Rolls of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, not a website.
    ILS Attorneys is a young firm formed in November 2006. Due to our operational strategy, our firm has grown rapidly since its inception; nevertheless because of the way we chose to work, a website was not an initial priority for us. In the Nigerian business culture few clients are concerned with whether their lawyers have websites, indeed many bigger and older law firms in Nigeria who enjoy the confidence of firms listed in the LEGAL 500 do not have websites. A website of itself is no guarantee of quality or existence of service.
    Having said that, at the time of Mr. Glover’s writing, ILS Attorneys did have a website under construction which is up and running now – http://www.ilsattoneys.net, and had he indeed run a proper search for ILS Attorneys he would undoubtedly have been directed to the URL which stated as such. It seems that in his haste to denigrate our firm and cast his suspicions on the entire legal profession of Nigeria, thoroughness and authentication were of no priority to Mr. Glover.
    The purpose of LinkedIn is to provide a tool for networking and the partners of our firm did open LinkedIn profiles for this purpose and to also give potential clients extra information about ourselves and our work history. LinkedIn provides the option for making enquiries about an individual either from other people who have a relationship with that individual or directly from the individual in question. Mr. Glover chose not to utilize any of these facilities in his ‘search’.
    Mr. Glover’s careless and patronizing statements are racist, libelous, and ought not to represent the standards of any bar association. As stated before, to the best of our knowledge we have not had any dealings with Mr. Glover and are particularly perplexed as to why he would single out this one lawyer and this one firm to disparage without any basis whatsoever. We cannot comment on what experiences he has had but if having a “hip” LinkedIn profile which Mr. Glover for whatever reasons cannot reconcile constitutes cause for unjustifiable albeit shoddy investigation culminating in being labeled as a fraud, then it is very unfortunate indeed.
    We hope that on reading this Mr. Glover will in future make the effort to conduct a bit more thorough research before passing comment on issues. We also hope that he would be big enough to publish his unreserved apology concerning this matter. In the meantime, we have sought counsel as to what remedies are open to us at law, in the State of Minnesota.
    ILS Attorneys
    http://www.Ilsattorneys.net

  • Sam Glover

    ILS Attorneys does indeed show up on Google now; they did not before. It is hard to imagine what would be a more “proper search” than “ILS Attorneys Nigeria” using Google. Moreover, while LinkedIn does allow messages, it does so only if you have a paid, premium account, which I do not.

    What “more thorough research” I could have done is unclear to me. Mr. Akinwole does not show up on the Nigerian Bar Association’s website, either; as of today, there is simply a statement that “This profile does not exist or is no longer available.” Nor does the firm. I had no way of contacting Mr. Akinwole or the firm, so I asked my question publicly.

    However, I made no defamatory statements. I asked a question related to several observations.

    As to how this post was racist and libelous, I am at a loss. A law firm, especially, should not toss such words around lightly.

    I receive many e-mails, spam comments, and links to spam blogs every day from African, Asian, Russian, and European princes and princesses, “barristers,” their representatives, etc., asking for advance fees, bank account information, and more recently, to hire me, apparently with counterfeit checks. Nigeria, unfortunately, seems to be particularly well-represented as a source of these scams.

    So when I saw Mr. Akinwole’s profile and could find nothing to corroborate his identity, law firm, or existence, those spam messages and came to mind. It is indeed a shame that legitimate business are suffering the collateral effects of scam spamming.

  • ILS Attorneys

    It seems that Mr. Glover’s only interest is in justifying himself and his actions while shying away from any form of responsibility for the potential consequences of said actions. In so doing he has once again exhibited an example of incomplete understanding, inadequate research and insufficient verification.

    While the Nigerian Bar Association website does not have a profile for Mr. Abayomi Akinwole, it does list him as a lawyer called to the Nigerian Bar in the year 2000. It might interest Mr. Glover to know that there are in fact no profiles for any lawyers on the NBA website, not even the president of the Nigerian Bar Association itself. The Law firm directory on the website lists only 2 firms, perhaps Mr. Glover assumes this to mean that there are only 2 law firms in practice in Nigeria?

    Should Mr. Glover choose to, he might want to search for Nigerian firms mentioned on the Legal 500 or the Chambers Guide for international law firms, he will find such titans as Louis Mbanefo, Ajumogobia & Okeke, Templars, Olanihun Ajayi, Adepetun Caxton Martins & Agbor, Aluko & Oyebode, to mention a few of the leading firms in Nigeria. Does it then mean that because they are not listed on the NBA website they are not bonafide law firms?

    The NBA website is a relatively new development which is still a ‘work in progress’. An obviously insufficient listing of law firms and a few inactive links and blank pages should have been some indication of that.

    Again, we maintain that Mr. Glover could have done a bit more in his search to verify if Mr. Akinwole was “real”. Mr. Akinwole’s LinkedIn profile clearly states that he had worked for Ajumogobia & Okeke Barristers & Solicitors. Ajumogobia & Okeke does have a website and they would have verified without hesitation that Mr. Akinwole was an Associate at that firm for almost 5 years. No attempt was made to contact them.

    Contrary to Mr. Glover’s rationalizations, there were ways to corroborate Mr. Akinwole’s identity, law firm or existence, they were simply not pursued.

    We do not wish to continue to join issues with Mr. Glover. We are sure he realizes the potential damage that his blog has created for our business. As we stated earlier, this blog was brought to our attention by a friend of the firm; doubtless, other people have also seen it and formed erroneous opinions about us. The responsibility for whatever damage is done to our firm and Mr. Akinwole’s name lies squarely with Mr. Glover and no one else.

    We expect an apology from Mr. Glover, a retraction of his statements and an expunction of this blog entry such that a search for either ‘ILS Attorneys’ or ‘Abayomi Akinwole’ does not does not call it up.

  • Sam Glover

    I think your comments are more than adequate to inform anyone who finds their way to this blog post.

    And no, I will not apologize, as nothing I wrote was inaccurate or remotely derogatory towards the firm or Mr. Akinwole It appears that the second part of my question is true, and that the internet finally is allowing the kind of global networking we had hoped for. And I am glad for it.

  • Olu

    I would honestly like to know how Mr Glover would feel if someone quoted his full name in an internet write up with insinuations of him being fake and a fraud?

    Mr Abayomi Akinwole and I were colleagues in law school, we were infact also associates in one of biggest law firms in Nigeria before I came over to England and he left to set up a partnership of his own.The Ajumogobia and Okeke website probably still has him listed as an associate.Even if changes have now been effected to the list of associates page of the site,I’m sure they would gladly confirm that he was a brilliant and dedicated attorney with them for years. Mr Akinwole is not only a brilliant attorney but a fine gentleman which is why I was really upset and irritated by the arrant nonsense written by Mr Glover. I felt particularly disappointed with the unreasonable extent of the write up, especially as it was obviously done without much thought and research.If a person’s full name is to be stated in a write up with such defamatory inferences and then published on the internet which has an almost limitless audience, more prudence is expected, especially if the writer purports to be learned.

    An apology would have been honourable, but why would that be expected from someone who would be thoughtless enough to attempt destroying a man’s name without caution.

  • Sam Glover

    Okay, “attempt destroying a man’s name.” Seriously?

    Before writing the post, I Googled “Abayomi Akinwole”, “ILS Attorneys”, and “ILS Attorneys Nigeria”. None turned up anything other than Mr. Akinwole’s LinkedIn page. So I asked whether he was real or whether this was a “new spin on an old scam.”

    I did not insinuate he was not real. I asked whether he was. There is a difference.

    By repeatedly posting comments with his name, you are doing him far more harm than the question I asked in the initial post.

    Here’s a tip for next time you want a blogger to remove something: ask nicely.

  • Olu

    How any reasonable person can validly say the words and entire nature of Mr Glover’s blog suggest no insinuations is disturbing, but then that’s assuming reason is applied.

    Mr Glover’s comments were damaging to a person’s name, he specifically mentioned a name when making his ludicrous inferences, yet he now says harm is being done to the person by trying to defend that name.Mr Glover, when defending slanderous or libellous allegations, do you omit the name that the offending slanderer damaged? whose reputation would you then be trying to salvage, Mr X’s?

    My friend’s name was mentioned twice in just my first response to your needless blog, yet you claim repeated comments with the name were made to his detriment even though the name was mentioned just twice and had to be mentioned because of the the defamatory nature of the blog. Is it just in your nature to misrepresent facts or are you confused?

    As earlier stated, I wasn’t even expecting an apology from you,so why would I expect you to remove the blog.My expectations were not that high, after all, I read your blog, can’t expect much from the writer of such “profound” buffoonery.