The NLA is the national voice of the Nigerian legal community in the United States. Each year, the NLA hosts the Merit Awards to celebrate the achievements of distinguished individuals who have made outstanding contributions in the legal profession and towards the advancement of public and community service, and to give out scholarships to law students of color from across the country based on need and merit.
Through independent and collaborative programming, the NLA works hard to: (1) increase diversity in the legal profession through its pipeline and mentorship initiative, which targets up and coming lawyers and law students of color, to help ensure their success in the profession; (2) foster community growth and investment through its networking programs and panels; and (3) give back to the community through its pro-bono legal clinics that are held throughout the year. Since 1999, the NLA has worked hard to improve the administration of justice in the United States and Nigeria, and to advance legal education and professional development within the legal community.
- Arik Air
- Aluko & Oyebode
- Banwo & Ighodalo
- Sidley Austin LLP
- Strategic Legal Solutions
- Debevoise & Plimpton LLP
- Shearman & Sterling LLP
- Wilmer Hale
- Hughes Hubbard
- Madu, Edozie & Madu, P.C.
- Thorgood Law Firm
- Olaniwun Ajayi, LP
PAST MERIT AWARD HONOREES
- 2002: Mr. Bayo Ogunlesi, Chairman and Managing Partner of Global Infrastructure Partners (a joint venture formed by Credit Suisse and General Electric); former Global Head of Investment Banking at Credit Suisse.
- 2003: Dr. (Mrs.) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Managing Director with the World Bank Group; former Vice President of the World Bank Group; former Minister of Finance of Nigeria.
- 2004: Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, Nigeria’s former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria and member of the Nigerian Energy Council.
- 2005: Professor Chinua Achebe, world-renowned writer and author of the award winning novel, “Things Fall Apart,” a widely-read African literature novel.
- 2006: Professor Ibrahim Gambari, Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the International Compact with Iraq and Other Issues; former Nigerian Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations.
- 2007: Mr. Kase Lawal, the chairman and chief executive officer of CAMAC International Corporation, chairman of Allied Energy Corporation in Houston and Commissioner of the Port of Houston Authority.
- 2008: Dr Funmi Olopade, MD, FACP, Professor of Medicine and Human Genetics and Director, Center for Clinical Cancer Genetics and Global Health at the University of Chicago Medical Center (one of the world’s leading authorities on cancer genetics and cancer risk assessment).
- 2009: Babatunde Fashola, SAN, Governor of Lagos State, Nigeria (represented by Olasupo Shasore, Attorney-General of Lagos State, Nigeria). Note: Tenth Anniversary Keynote Speaker.
- 2010: Professor Wole Soyinka, world-renowned writer, poet and playwright; 1986 Noble Laureate in Literature (received NLA’s first Lifetime Achievement Award). Justice Kayode Eso, former justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, public servant and writer.
- 2011: Ms. Obiageli Ezekwesili, Vice President of the World Bank Africa Region; former Minister of Education of Nigeria. Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, former Attorney General of Lagos State, Nigeria and well-respected legal scholar (received NLA’s 2nd Law & Justice Award).
- 2012: Ms. Hauwa Ibrahim, human rights lawyer, Yale University World Fellow and Harvard Fellow.
PAST KEYNOTE SPEAKERS
- Hon. George Bundy Smith (then Justice of the Court of Appeals of New York)
- US Congressman Charles Rangel
- Ms. Obiageli Ezekwesili (Nigeria’s former Minister of Education and currently Vice President at the World Bank Group)
- Hon. Justice Emmanuel Olayinka Ayoola (retired Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria and current Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission)
- Mr. Olasupo Shasore, Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice for Lagos State, as representative of the Governor of Lagos State
- Professor Chudi Uwazurike, Member of the Nigerian House of Representatives and International Affairs Scholar