Law firm partner Frinwi Achu credits LLM degree for her success
For law firm partner Frinwi Gwenelyne Achu, her LLM degree from the University of Cincinnati College of Law was a good investment professionally. “For starters”, she said, “what stands out for me is the exposure I got [through] the LLM program. Apart from meeting people from different continents and [gaining an] understanding of cultural diversity, the experiences I had through my externship helped me understand the dynamics of corporate law practice.” These are lessons Achu has been able to apply daily, and which enhance her legal practice. They also solidified her decision to attend UC Law.
Life after graduation
After graduating from the LLM Program in 2016, Achu moved to Nigeria where she attended the Nigerian law school. She was called to the Nigerian Bar as a Barrister—a lawyer who specializes in court room advocacy and litigation—and as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. As a Solicitor, she is a legal practitioner who is involved in transaction legal work, such as conveyancing, drafting wills, contracts and orchestrating alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.
Thereafter, she joined Africa Law Practice (ALP NG & Co.), a corporate/commercial law firm in Lagos, where she honed her legal skills and then returned to her home country, Cameroon, in 2020. After fulfilling the requirements precedent to practice as a legal practitioner and being sworn in before the Supreme Court of Cameroon, she joined four other attorneys in setting up their own law firm—Greenhills Partners LLP. Headquartered in Buea, Southwest Region of Cameroon, the firm also has an office in Abuja so that they can meet the needs of their Nigerian clients. Greenhills Partners’ practice areas include corporate law, maritime law, real estate, and criminal and civil litigation.
Achu heads the corporate/commercial practice department at the firm. “I handle mostly corporate and commercial law transactions, which includes private equity investments and venture capital, banking and financial regulations, Fintech (financial technology) law, NGOs and associations, as well as commercial litigation. I also take up some family law and succession cases because of my love for family.” Because of her skills and experience working in multiple legal systems around the world, Achu is positioned to advise companies, startups, and foreign investors on “doing business in Africa”.
In addition, the firm is engaged in pro bono work as a means of giving back to society. “We partner with some human rights NGOs that provide educational assistance to orphans and vulnerable children,” said Achu. “We also handle a few pro bono cases for internally displaced people.”
Because of her skills and experience working in multiple legal systems around the world, Achu is positioned to advise companies, startups, and foreign investors on doing business in Africa.
“The most recent intriguing and demanding case I am currently working on is a financial technology deal for a start-up aimed at developing a cash app to ease payment for goods and services online, to reduce the need to carry physical cash due to the increased crime wave in society. The brain behind this project is a young 28-year-old Cameroonian whose desire is to secure a more sustainable economic future for the country and to meet the demands of the world market. For now, the project is targeted towards the Central African market, but we hope to target the world market through his cash app. We have had support from some private equity investors, and we keep working hard to enable this young entrepreneur to achieve his dreams, despite a few setbacks and administrative bottlenecks.”
Looking back on her Cincinnati experience
Achu says she enjoyed her experience at UC Law. Not surprisingly, her favorite classes were International Business Transactions with Professor Jacob Cogan, Legal Research and Writing with Professor Nancy Oliver, and U.S. Legal System with Assistant Dean Nora Burke Wagner. She liked the U.S. Legal System course in particular because “It was always nice listening to the experiences of other students and comparing and contrasting the U.S. legal system to our different legal systems.” All of these classes connect to her professional life today.
One of her career defining experiences was her semester long externship at Fifth Third Bank. “Externships are important because it is an opportunity to enhance skills, as well as get exposure to the U.S work culture and law practices. It introduces the students to what can be a very competitive place for career advancement. In some cases, students have been hired after law school because of their performance during externships,” Achu commented.
“My externship exposed me to in-house legal work, banking regulations and compliance. The majority of my responsibilities at the bank was to conduct research into the laws of the various states where the bank operated to ensure that their policies were in line with the local regulations. I also conducted research on some foreign investment projects that the bank was carrying out at that point in time as my research paper was based on foreign investment as a means to alleviate poverty. As a result of my externship, today I am able to advise on private equity investments, venture capital and Fintech deals which involves a lot of banking regulations and compliance with local regulations.”
As a result of my externship, today I am able to advise on private equity investments, venture capital and Fintech deals which involves a lot of banking regulations and compliance with local regulations.
Frinwi Achu '16, LLM
A word of advice
When asked what counsel she’d give to someone considering UC Law’s LLM program or just getting started, she offers this word of advice. “Make use of every little opportunity available during the LLM program to network and get as much exposure as possible.”
About the LLM Program
Cincinnati Law’s LLM Program is celebrating its 10th anniversary. The Master of Laws in U.S. Law program is designed to introduce internationally trained lawyers to the U.S. legal system. Graduates of the LLM program are better able to represent U.S. clients and are more prepared for negotiations and litigation with U.S. parties. LLM students can focus on any of our nine Professional Pathways, as well as participate in a number of fellowship opportunities with the Ohio Innocence Project and through the Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights. Graduates go on to various post-graduation careers such as lawyer, judge, business professional, consultant, banker, and more.
Photo (lead): istockphoto.com; Achu: provided