“If I must talk about a achievement, then it must be that of working on the movie project which saw Cameroon’s first ever movie on Netflix” Esaya Daniel Abanda

He defines himself as humble, optimistic, loving and compassionate. Barrister and Solicitor of the Courts of Cameroon and Nigeria, Esaya Daniel Abanda Tezo is an ambitious and visionary lawyer with much interest in Business, Finance and Entertainment Law.

He’s the founder and managing partner of Edanate Lawyers, whose practice areas include Corporate law, Commercial law ; Media, Sports and Entertainment law; Technology law; Privacy and data protection; Environmental law; Investment and finance; Regulatory Compliance; Intellectual Property; Real Estate. Interview

Hello Mr. Esaya Daniel. Can you describe your career path?

My career path has been a very straightforward one, knowing from the early stages what I intended to do and delving into doing just that – becoming a lawyer with an interest and focus on the areas of business, finance, tech, Intellectual property, media, sports, entertainment and real estate law, amongst other general practice areas of law.

I have been a legal intern as a law student with the two law firms: Akum, Tanyi & Co and Barminjoh Chambers, as well as at the High Court of Lagos State in Nigeria.

Upon completion of my training and obtaining my license to practice as a lawyer in Nigeria and then Cameroon, I worked as an associate at the kisob Law Office in Yaoundé, Cameroon from 2017 until 2021. I then started my own law firm, the Edanate Lawyers law firm in February 2022 where I am now on this new challenge of lawyering and entrepreneurship which is usually coined to read “Lawyerpreneurship”.

Why did you choose to become a Business Lawyer? A childhood dream?

Honestly my choice to become a lawyer came from the initial admiration of my late uncle, Barrister Christopher JING. He was a gentleman and the first person to take me to visit a courtroom. I admired his ways and that was how I felt that being a lawyer could be a thing for me.

However, it was an issue to understand what field of law I would wish to focus on. My late dad, Mr. Mathias Saya ABANDA was a businessman. He would often ask us his children to accompany him as he goes about his business during our holidays.

From him I learnt about being an entrepreneur, owning and running your own business. However, over the years I realized that he lost so much money in investments, most of which was dues to the lack of legal backing in his business activities.

I then flt that if I must be involved in my dad’s business so as to keep uo with his legacy, then I should come in from the angle of protecting the business legally. This was when I then started gaining interest in business law.

However, a booster came when I heard about a Doing Business Award which was handed over to my elder cousin, Barrister Paul JING by the World Bank.

I understood that this meant that he had contributed greatly to facilitating businesses and investments in Cameroon, contributing to the growth of the country’s economy. It was then that I fully got the interest in business law.

I was already in the university and had a great spirit of patriotism with the desire to contribute to the growth of the economy of my country. Understanding this award to Barrister Paul Jing was therefore a booster to my passion for business law.

What are your main areas of practice?

My main areas of practice include the following:

  • Corporate law;
  • Commercial law;
  • Media, Sports and Entertainment law;
  • Technology law;
  • Privacy and data protection;
  • Environmental law;
  • Investment and finance;
  • Regulatory Compliance;
  • Intellectual Property;
  • Real Estate.

How did you feel when you were sworn in and what were your first steps in this world?

When I was first sworn-in, the words of my late dad came to my mind. He had once told me that “It is not enough to be financially comfortable and successful; you must strive to become a ‘personality in the society’”. Swearing-in as a lawyer, first in Nigeria and then in Cameroon gave me that fulfilment of responding positively to the words of my father – becoming a personality in the society – a lawyer!

My first steps were to find that law office which I deemed fit for me to work in so I can learn the practice. Of course, I knew no better than the Kisob’s Law Office in Yaounde. By then it was a small law office involved in an all-inclusive legal practice.

A place where I had several tasks in diversified fields of law assigned to me and directly supervised by the principal lawyer, Barrister Luke KISOB.

You are today one of the rising stars in the world of business law in Cameroon. What is your assessment of your rich professional experience?

I must say that I am humbled for you to have considered me as such. Again, I am proud of myself for my achievements. I have worked with several start-ups, from the early stages of business creation and incorporation through corporate financing and corporate governance operations.

Working with music and film producers too has really been interesting and has made me realize how much potential the Cameroonian entertainment industry has. Believe me that my assessment is a very positive and optimistic one

The experience has of course come with its challenges, being a young lawyer in a very competitive sector, on in which direct advertising and publicity is not allowed, yet you have to be able to keep up with branding and building a strong network of clients.

However, I always believe in self-assessment and competing with ones self. As long as you are better than you were before, then just keep working and don’t break!

What are your main achievements (great feats) with Edanate Lawyers?

Working with startups and entertainers has been the key area. So much has been achieved in various sectors. However, if I must talk about a main achievement, then it must be that of working on the movie project which saw Cameroon’s first ever movie on Netflix, a movie titled “Therapy” and produced by SAM’s Production.

I worked as the head of legal in the project and advised the producers on legal considerations as well as negotiations with other stakeholders that got the job done.

How do you see the evolution of your profession in 5, 10 years? What worries you and what, on the contrary, excites you?

I see growth, tremendous growth within the next 5 to 10 years. This only the 1st year as a “lawyerpreneur”, yet I can count so many successes. I am optimistic that not only will I grow as a lawyer, by my firm, the Edanate Lawyers will experience growth in its service coverage, clientele as well as its staff.

As for my worries, it is whether or not I will be able to change the narrative of the legal profession in my country. More and more we see lawyers being disrespected and their rights publicly violated.

The legal profession is not properly structured – the proof is the procedure and becoming a lawyer in Cameroon is really tedious. I worry about the fate of young law students who look up to the legal professionals in Cameroon as well as the Cameroon Bar Association for support and encouragement.

What excites me is the evolution in the areas of technology and digital economy. I am excited to see how the legal practice sector of the economy will be integrated and what changes shall occur. How will these changes positively affect the sector?

Is there an activity that relaxes you and allows you to recharge your batteries?

Of course. I’m an adventurer and love discovering new places. I also keep up with running and exercise during the weekends. Sometimes, funny enough, I still play video games. Attending church service and praise and worship sessions too is so much of a therapy for me.

A word to the young people who wish to follow in your footsteps?

I will give them a formula which I learnt back in secondary school and partly from my dad. It is the 2P.H.D of success. The first P is for Perseverance/persistence. They must be very perseverant ant persistent in everything they do.

The second P is for prayers. By this it means praying so hard as if everything about their success depended on God alone; Then the H is for Hard work. They must also work so hard as if everything about their success depends on them alone.

Lastly the D for Discipline. They must be discipline and find themselves always at the right place, right time and doing the right thing. Finally, I always say no matter what, keep walking and don’t break. Believe in yourself!

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