Work the Room

Work the Room

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DELE OGUN
Member Dele Ogun isn’t just a fantastic speaker, he’s also the writer of ‘The Law, The Lawyers and The Lawless’ – an autobiography that is as much about the English Bar as it is about the author. 
 
Among the anecdotes in the book is this gem about speaking in front of others that showcases Dele’s ability to instinctively give an example that draws directly on the experience of his specific audience:
Sometime after I stepped down as chairman of the ACA [African, Caribbean and Asian Lawyers Group] my successor, Audrey Dorival, and I were invited to lunch by the managing partner of the City firm MacFarlanes. It wasn’t going to be a free lunch because he had given us notice of the puzzle he, and his colleagues, wanted answered. The question was why the very idea of our group for African Caribbean and Asian lawyers was not divisive and discriminatory and why it was not sufficient for ethnic minority lawyers to just be members of the Law Society like other solicitors.
As we were ushered into the partners’ swish dining suite our hosts were already seated. When they stood to welcome us I noticed one of them was wearing a Royal Air Force regimental tie. I picked up the RAF theme to break the ice and he confirmed that he met up from time to time with fellow ex-RAF to reminisce and fraternise.
When later on the exam question was brought up I asked whether he thought there was any difference between the practice of the members of the RAF club meeting separately and apart from the rest of the Armed Forces, and the ACA where those of us who shared the unique quality and experience of being minority lawyers in majority law firms met. The point was well taken and they graciously committed to providing sponsorship for the group.
Proof – if it be needed – that it pays to look around and take notice of your surroundings, whether answering a Table Topic, interview question or a challenge over lunch! When picking an example, choose the one that appeals most to the audience rather than to yourself: as Dele has shown here, paying attention to the details can make a big difference. 
 
Dele Ogun was called to the  English Bar in 1985. He practiced as a Tax Lawyer in the City before establishing his own commercial law firm in England. He writes and speaks on democracy in Europe and Africa. 
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