Editors’ Note: As part of our ongoing Faces of MoFo series, New York associate Gabriel Yomi Dabiri talks about his unconventional path to law and why MoFo is his firm of choice.
An Unconventional Route to Law
I was born in Toledo, Ohio and am the eldest of three children born to Nigerian parents. While some families would be proud at the prospect of having a lawyer in their ranks, my father, who taught engineering and math at the university level had different expectations for me. In our house, STEM fields were revered. My father, skeptical of the legal profession (where were the numbers?!), steered me towards the sciences by using the numerous listings of attorneys in the phone book to demonstrate the last thing the world needed was another lawyer.
A few years later, I was a pre-med student at the University of Pennsylvania, with an eye toward medical school. My plans changed after taking a work-study job as an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where I cite-checked articles for the law review. I spent more time reading the articles than cite-checking them and concluded that law was where I wanted to focus my time. I switched my major to Political Science with a minor in Economics and set a new course for my career.
I continued forging my own path by opting against putting myself in six figures of debt studying law in the United States. Instead, on the suggestion of family in Britain, I studied law in England and Wales, where fees were much less and I could sit the New York bar exam at the end of three years, without obtaining an LLM. After graduating from Cardiff Law School in Wales and the University of Law, Moorgate in England, I began my practice at an international law firm in London. I am now admitted as an attorney under New York law and qualified as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales.
In hindsight, I couldn’t be happier to have started my career in London – especially as someone who left the country for the first time at the age of 25 and had never lived abroad. From there, I went on to earn a competitive secondment to the firm’s Singapore office, returned to London for six months, and earned a second, even more competitive secondment to the firm’s office in New York – where my wife and I eventually put down roots and were blessed with two amazing daughters, Zoe and Eva.
Ultimately, I chose Morrison & Foerster because of its diverse Finance and Projects practice, its demonstrated commitment to pro bono work, and its reputed down-to-earth culture. Having just celebrated my one year anniversary at the firm, MoFo has exceeded my expectations. My team has been engaged in my training and very supportive of my business development efforts.
While the job is demanding (which I welcome), I have the flexibility to be an engaged father and husband. I am able to spend my free time taking my daughter to Taekwondo practice every Saturday morning and witness as many firsts as I can, including my oldest daughter’s first day of kindergarten. The sign we made together is a sight to behold – if not also a little bigger than we’d originally planned. Kindergarten, believe it or not, is an incredibly long word to fit on a sign!
I’m very pleased with the choice I made to join Morrison & Foerster.
Working at MoFo allows me the flexibility to spend time with my two young daughters.