Lawyard Spotlight: Tayo Fashesin
Tayo Fashesin is the Group Legal Counsel at Filmhouse Group, which comprises of companies focused on the exhibition, distribution and production of film contents. He spoke to Lawyard.
He attended Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife (OAU) where he obtained his LL. B degree and immediately proceeded to the Nigerian Law School, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State after which he was admitted to the Nigerian Bar. For him, mentors have played an immense role in his educational and career decisions. His late grandfather, whom he idolized had a thriving law practice and he has also had the opportunity to be mentored by the brightest minds and they have played a big role in providing guidance and advise regarding his career moves and decisions
Professional Life and Law Practice
LAWYARD: Where do you currently work, your specific role and how long have you worked here. Also kindly include, the nature of your work.
Tayo Fashesin: I currently work as the Group Legal Executive with the Filmhouse Group, which comprises predominantly of Filmhouse Cinemas, a film exhibition company with several outlets all over Nigeria and FilmOne Entertainment, a Film Production and Distribution company that is responsible for the production/distribution of most of the blockbuster film contents.
I have been with the Group for 5 years and within this period I have had the opportunity to be involved in many ground breaking activities including the licensing of the IMAX Technology (the first in West Africa), Content Aggregation with Netflix, West Africa Film Fund, Successful defence of a copyright infringement matter – Omoni Oboli’s Okafor’s Law, Distribution Agreements with Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox just to mention a few.
My key responsibilities include providing legal advice to the company’s management, legal documentation, management of litigation matters for the group, and general provision of legal protection for the group. I also assist with the provision of secretarial services to Board of Directors of the companies as well as the Board Committees and considering these responsibilities I tend to get involved in almost all aspects of the business.
LAWYARD: You previously worked as an Associate Lawyer at The Gavel Associates. What was the nature of your work here and please tell us about the strategic decisions that led you in-house rather than rise through the ranks of a law firm?
Tayo Fashesin: Considering the nature of the legal profession, the early years in any lawyer’s career is very important as a lot of important lessons and habits are cultivated during these formative years. For me, The Gavel Associates played an important role in my career as it was a period of learning and considering that it was a small sized firm, these lessons were very personalised, kudos to my seniors at this firm.
The firm is a general practice firm hence I was introduced to different aspects of law ranging from Litigation to Real Estate to Corporate/Commercial Law. I also had the opportunity to have been entrusted with many responsibilities solely, considering the fact that I was only fresh out of law school.
LAWYARD: You are presently the Group Legal Counsel at FilmOne Entertainment. Please tell us more about your role in this capacity. What informed your decision to move into Compliance and Entertainment Law practice?
Tayo Fashesin: I have always had a flair for entertainment in whatever form and when the opportunity presented itself for me to work as a lawyer in the entertainment industry, I grabbed it.
And I have mentioned to everyone that cares to listen, especially people that make reference to me as an “Entertainment Lawyer” that the description is a bit incorrect. I am a Lawyer, working in the entertainment industry, I say this because the responsibilities and the services rendered encompasses different aspects of Law and Entertainment Law is only one of the aspects.
LAWYARD: What structures do you have in place to ensure easier job delivery?
Tayo Fashesin: Through the able leadership of my boss and mentor, Anthony Okwuosa, there are processes in place within the department and even the company as a whole that ensures prompt, efficient and top-notch delivery of tasks especially with clear reporting lines.
LAWYARD: In your line of work, how have you managed to balance existing systems/regulations in Nigeria/West Africa with commercial realities?
Tayo Fashesin: I must say it is a bit challenging because the Entertainment industry can be considered as an emerging sector. However, in spite of this it is clear that the Government and its agencies mean well because they have been very supportive. It is worthy to note especially the efforts of the National Films and Videos Censors Board (NFVCB) in working hand-in-hand with industry practitioners.
LAWYARD: How do you, as the Sub-Saharan Counsel, find communication with other teams in your company?
Tayo Fashesin: I am very lucky to be working with a very amazing group of people who are indeed very gifted at what they do. Nobody works in isolation and all the different departments within the company always try to carry other departments along in the execution of their tasks.
LAWYARD: What are some of the highlights of your work? What are some of the recurring challenges you have to tackle in your current role?
Tayo Fashesin: As mentioned earlier, overtime, I have had the opportunity to be involved in many landmark activities from cinema openings (from ideation to opening to the public) to film investment funds and even working on most of the Nollywood blockbusters. However, there is the recurring challenge of the knowledge gap whereby many players in the industry do not understand the laws and their rights in relation to their work.
It is understandable that the industry is just growing, so we have been able to carry out a lot of sensitization to educate people about the relations between their rights, the law and the entertainment industry and I must confess that there has been some improvement.
LAWYARD: How do you decide when to engage external firms or specific skills outside your expertise?
Tayo Fashesin: We typically engage the services of external solicitors to represent us for Disputes Resolution and also when we need a third-party opinion on any legal issue. Apart from these, all legal matters are mostly sorted out in-house.
On a Lighter Note
LAWYARD: Outside of work, what do you enjoy?
Tayo Fashesin: I enjoy hanging out with my friends and considering the complexities of living in Lagos, we try to do this as often as practicable. I also like watching documentaries and football.
LAWYARD: Considering how highly competitive the world has become, what are those non-negotiable skills you would recommend to young lawyers considering a similar career path as yours?
Tayo Fashesin: I will say strong communication skills, commercial awareness, people management skills, creative problem-solving skills and versatility. Considering the nature of the industry you are expected to be very versatile to be able to adapt to different allied functions and activities.
LAWYARD: We understand you have always been a great footballer and easily one of the stars to watch out for at the annual BOA Lawyers League, did you ever consider a professional career in football?
Tayo Fashesin: After captaining my University’s School team at some point, I always believed that I will lead Nigeria to winning our first World Cup trophy whilst playing for Arsenal wearing the number 14 jersey. It is safe to say “man proposes, God disposes”. Hahaha!