This week the spotlight is on Abi Jenaé who is an Intellectual Property Lawyer and the founder of The Music Law Seminar. IndustryMe caught up with Abi to discuss her journey so far and her plans for 2018.
Tell me a little bit about your journey and how you got to where you are today?
Well I grew up in Tulse Hill Estate. I guess you could say I fell into the wrong crowd. Long story short I ended up being arrested so many times – never charged though! My mum, who remains one of my biggest inspirations, is a lawyer and bailed me out at that time. She was honestly like a super hero to me. I ended up taking my GCSEs in a centre at the age of 14. When I passed them it was like a turning point for me. I applied to only one college – SFX – to do my A-Levels and was accepted, it was all or nothing to me. Then I was accepted into university when I was 16 to start my law degree. I always had an interest in music, so while I was at university I joined the BBK and Skepta street team and we’ve maintained a good relationship to this day. I was supporting them backstage when they did the O2 takeover. In 2016 I became one of the youngest qualified solicitor in the world. Right now I’m doing a lot of IP and it’s a constant learning process. I am not just touching on music but other industries as well such as art, design, tech, clothing, etc. IP across all industries. I plan on focusing on just music in a few months, I just wanted to gain that solid IP experience for growth as a solicitor.
What made you want to go into Law?
Would it be ironic to say ending up on the wrong side of it. All jokes aside I would say that my mum is a huge contributing factor. I look at her as some sort of super woman. Additionally, I wanted to be able to give something back to the community where I grew up. If I can do something to help break the cycle I was in for someone else; I will. This is exactly why I did criminal law and family law at the beginning of my career, bussing so many cases. I’ve never lost a case till this day. Then I decided to move into my more passionate areas of music and IP, focusing more on non-contentious work rather than my contentious background.
Is it hard to juggle both the music and your legal career?
Yes definitely. I think I have definitely put music on hold. I mean I grew up in an African household so the general consensus was “become a doctor or become a lawyer”. I decided to go for law but kept my connection to music alive through studying music and intellectual property law over a 7 year period and at the same time I have always stayed relevant in the music industry, constantly networking. I combined my family’s expectations with my own.
The way I see it, I can get into music at any time, being a lawyer doesn’t affect my creativity.
With that being said, new music is definitely on the way.
Following the success of the 2nd Music Law seminar are you planning another one any time soon?
Definitely! I think in future it will be more focused on intellectual property.
Outside if Law and Music you also do a lot of public speaking. What events will you be at this year?
I spoke at Day in my shoes in January and there are plenty more in pipeline. Right now I am just taking my time with everything I am doing.
You recently won Lawyer of the year, describe what that felt like?
It was an amazing achievement that opened up a lot of doors for me.
I actually ended up being headhunted for a number of jobs. There was the opportunity to work in a record label or to work in a law firm. I made my decision based on the fact that I wanted to gain some crucial knowledge in IP since most of the successful lawyers I know have that IP back bone. Despite the battle between my head and my heart I’m now working in a law firm but will definitely make a move in-house or to a record label pretty soon.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Hopefully married with kids 😊 With a successful book to my name and my seminars going global hitting territories like Nigeria and the US in particular. I’ll be still grounded in touch with community and maybe even have an album.
What advice would you give to any aspiring lawyers out there?
Go for it. Work hard. Will power is key. Consistency is key! So many people don’t follow through goals. Having a plan is important and not getting side tracked. I have an LLB, LPC (PDL), LLM and PSC to my name now but I was cooking in Nandos and was a waitress at Crystal Palace football club back then when I was grinding trying to secure some money for my LPC. Then after my LPC I was awarded a Masters in Law (LLM), which basically means my Masters was free! You don’t have to wait around for someone to sponsor your LPC, and you get blessed for making things happen for yourself!