student standing next to a AAA sign.

Taking her ADR skills to the next level

Bamisope Adeyanju ’23 selected to attend global ADR summit

A top-notch networking opportunity. A chance to grow her skills in alternative dispute resolution. The fun of revisiting the familiar haunts of New York City. Bamisope Adeyanju’s trip to a major international ADR conference earlier this month was all that and more.

Adeyanju, who is a practicing lawyer in her native country, Nigeria, is in the second year of UB School of Law’s two-year J.D. program for internationally trained lawyers. Her participation in the two-day Diverse Student ADR Summit—sponsored by the American Arbitration Association, with a focus on international ADR practice—was funded with a $1,300 stipend from the industry group. Adeyanju was one of 20 U.S. law students selected.

In some ways, the trip was a return to familiar ground; she lived in New York City while earning a master of laws degree from Columbia Law School. And mediation and arbitration are nothing new to Adeyanju, because they were part of her practice at a Lagos law firm.

But ADR skills, she says, are key to her plan to transition to work in a corporate setting in the United States.

“I learned so much,” she says, “and it rekindled my interest in employing ADR not just locally, but to see how it is used internationally. I found that the singular most utilitarian skill a lawyer can develop is negotiation – one of the ADR mechanisms.”

ADR continues to gain prominence in U.S. legal practice, but Adeyanju says the techniques are already firmly entrenched in Nigeria. “The courts frequently employ it,” she says. “In a business dispute, the court will require the parties to go beyond a settlement conference to mediate, for instance. In matters involving big corporations, arbitration is the most common form.”

Among her many extracurricular activities as a student at Columbia Law, Adeyanju worked as a staff editor for the American Review of International Arbitration. Following her graduation from Columbia in 2020, she accepted a year-long fellowship to work in Washington, D.C., as a policy fellow at Accountability Counsel, which supports communities worldwide in their relationships with corporations and institutions funding development work in the communities.

“We advocated for the rights of members of the community in those projects,” she says. “The projects which are usually intended to make the community better, sometimes produce unintended consequences, including infringing on their environmental and human rights."

Some investors, Adeyanju says, “want to do right,” and many have developed guidelines to safeguard human rights and ESG—environmental, social and governance—impacts of their investments. “But they are in need of lawyers who understand both business and human rights to help them make better decisions, and I want to be able to take advantage of that opportunity,” she says.

At UB Law, Adeyanju has maintained a whirlwind of activity in addition to her coursework. She works as a research assistant to Professor Meredith Lewis; serves on UB’s International Students Advisory Board and as vice president of the International Law Students Association. She is active in the National Black Law Students Association and serves as a diversity intern in the law school’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. In that role, she has researched best practices among other law schools and helped plan the summer Discover Law Undergraduate Scholars Program for promising undergraduates from historically underrepresented communities.

“The School of Law is incredibly proud of Bami for applying to and being awarded a stipend to attend the Diverse Student ADR Summit,” says Amber Melvin ’13, associate director of the diversity, equity and inclusion office. “Bami was able to network with lawyers from top firms in New York City and learn about opportunities in ADR that she hadn’t considered before. Programs like this foster collaboration between law students and practitioners, and open new doors that wouldn’t have been available otherwise.”