Q & A With Uduak Oduok: Marrying Fashion And Law In Blog

By Ann Brown AFKI Original Published: December 27, 2013, 1:18 am

Uduak Oduok has a lot of adjectives attached to her name — practicing attorney, businesswoman, journalist, publisher, writer and blogger, and as she likes to say — game changer.

Oduok is a partner and co-founder of Ebitu Law Group, P.C. whose practice areas include contract drafting and negotiations, business litigation, entertainment and fashion law. She has litigated a wide variety of issues in civil and criminal courts.

But Oduok has other loves in addition to the law. She also has more than two decades hands-on fashion and entertainment industry experience–through publishing, blogging, modeling, music, branding and public relations.

A journalist and ex-fashion model, she has covered fashion for Yahoo News!, USA Today and MSNBC, and she has also been a legal commentator for New York’s WBAI and WBLS, and Al Jazeera.

Born in the U.S. to parents of Nigerian descent, Oduok earned bachelor of arts degree at age 19 in speech communications from San Jose State University. She earned her law degree from UC Hastings College of the Law.

She started fashion and music law online blogs Ladybrille and Africa Music Law. Oduok describes Ladybrille as “a fusion of WWD, Vogue and Essence with a very distinct African perspective.”

AFKInsider: What led you to co-found the law firm?

Uduak Oduok: I have always wanted to own my own law firm. The opportunity arose eight years ago and I took advantage of it. In 2012, I closed shop because yet another opportunity arose to go into business with my current partner after years of owning my own solo practice and here we are. So, here we are one year into a newly formed legal practice serving the legal needs of our local communities and also the business, fashion and entertainment industries.

AFKInsider: What have been some business obstacles you have faced?

Uduak Oduok: When I operated as a solo practitioner, the challenge was to obtain capital to fund my business and of course build the requisite clientele.  No one would lend me money because I was starting a new business and the accompanying risks that goes with that. I had to make it happen on my own and I was proud that I did so. I used a lot of grassroots marketing, advertising and promotional strategies to build my business. These strategies I am carrying into my present company and look forward to successfully growing our law firm practice in the years ahead.

AFKInsider: Tell me more about your upcoming book?

Uduak Oduok: I completed my first draft of my book “Nigeria Music Industry & The Law,” (working title) late 2012. I have honestly not spent the time to edit/amend it i.e. produce a second draft. It is a very comprehensive book that looks at the business of music and the intellectual property laws surrounding the business of music both from the Nigerian, Nigerian-American and American artist’s perspective. It is comprehensive. I hope I get to complete the second and final drafts in 2014.

AFKInsider: You blog about fashion and entertainment law. Why this combination?

Uduak Oduok: I blog about other topic areas beyond fashion and entertainment law. However, have a passion for fashion and the law. I have been in the fashion and entertainment industry for a combined total of over 20 years and enjoy it. It makes sense I will discuss what I am most comfortable with and enjoy. Also, given my practice areas include fashion and entertainment law; and that I am privy to the realities of business going wrong and the detrimental impact it has on those affected, it makes so much sense.

My blogging on fashion and entertainment law is only two years old. I have been blogging for over six years on purely fashion, women, music, film and business with no legal overtones. Also, as to law, I have also blogged a lot on criminal law issues since I also handle criminal defense cases.

AFKInsider: Why did you create the portal Africamusiclaw.com?

Uduak Oduok : While I blog about fashion and entertainment law on www.fashionentlaw.com, and have written law articles for numerous publishers, I feel my African legal voice is constrained, and that I have not expressed my voice the way I really, really want to. Africamusiclaw.com is thus a portal where my African legal voice, if you will, comes out in full force.

Here, I live my childhood and adult African legal fantasies. I am actually tweaking my first legal script, a legal drama that unfolds in Nigeria, which I hope to direct and produce someday.

On this site, my dreams and fantasies about a continent where the legal system is actually functional come to life. Law can and should be used to prevent, predict and/or resolve disputes among Africans within and outside Africa.

Africamusiclaw.com is also a place I have created as a centralized spot where African music professionals (mostly Nigerians and Ghanaians) can embrace and understand the legal system to help increase their bottom line (money) and also help maintain healthy business relationships. Prevention is better than cure.

AFKInsider: What are some of your career goals for 2014?

Uduak Oduok: Focusing on building a strong legal practice, solidify my relationship in my local community. I have been quite involved in the national and international communities for a while now. I am ready to and need to return to my local base without necessarily losing the national and international following I have built with respect to my work in the fashion and entertainment industries. Getting back in the mix of things locally is my top priority for 2014.

AFKInsider: Do you find the way Americans work differs from Nigerians?

Uduak Oduok : I think so. When I am solicited for my services or to speak or present at events, I find that the presentation and logistics from Nigerians and other African groups are not quite as organized as they can be. Nevertheless, I have noticed a shift and improvement over the years. I think this is probably because of an increase in more experienced PR professionals and event organizers. So, I expect this will continue to change overtime.

AFKInsider: How do you keep close ties to the business community in Nigeria?

Uduak Oduok: For both Nigeria and Africa, my role as a publisher of “Ladybrille” and now “Africa Music Law” means that for the most part, the business communities in the continent come to me. However, I also read a lot and try to cover and discuss topics germane to the business community that I know will naturally attract fellow businessmen and women across industry sectors to me and my platforms.

AFKInsider: What do you enjoy most about what you do?

Uduak Oduok: I enjoy being a lawyer and practicing law because you truly help solve people’s legal problems that has or is causing serious financial, emotional and many times physical illness to them. For criminal or civil litigation matters, the impact on the lives of the people I represent is profound. For the deal making and negotiations, the same holds true, in a positive way.

I am privileged to be blessed with the gift of advocacy and to be the conduit/vessel God uses to bless others with my advocacy skills. I enjoy that a lot. I know most people don’t think of lawyers as helping or blessing them.

We are known as troublemakers but in the final analysis, we do help people a lot and I am proud to be among a fraternity of men and women who truly make a difference in the lives of others with our gifts of advocacy.

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