Courtesy Akindele Tawoju
Nov. 10, 2022
Class of 2022: Law’s role in environmental protection inspires UCalgary grad
Growing up in Nigeria, Akindele Tawoju’s knowledge and experience of the less-than-optimal environmental condition caused by oil and gas production activities inspired him to study law. He has always desired to explore ways that the law could be used for the protection of individuals and their immediate environment, particularly when it comes to the energy industry.
Starting at Osun State University in Nigeria, Tawoju graduated top of his class and received Distinction and First-Class Honours during his Diploma in Law and Bachelor of Laws. He also obtained another First Class from the Nigerian Law School and was called to the Nigerian bar as a lawyer. He subsequently worked in the energy law department of a top-tier Nigerian law firm where he contributed to the provision of legal services to international and local clients on oil and gas and electric power projects.
Although these are all incredible accomplishments, Tawoju wasn’t done. Starting with the University of Calgary in the fall of 2020, Tawoju pursued his research-based Master of Laws (LL.M) program with a specialization in natural resources, energy and environmental law (NREEL), and was awarded a number of scholarships. Tawoju’s research uncovers pro-environment investment strategies in the prudent management of state-owned natural resource funds.
“I made a deliberate choice in undertaking an LL.M program at the University of Calgary as the institution has a much-desired specialization and occupies a leading position in natural resources, energy and environmental law, which has been recognized as one of the top energy law programs in the world,” says Tawoju.
An ambitious, driven leader
With previous experience in energy law, a specialized LL.M that addresses natural resource interests, alongside energy and environmental considerations, complements Tawoju’s background.
“UCalgary’s LL.M will help a great deal in positively shaping my career ambition of becoming a leading scholar in NREEL and sustainable development policy and regulation,” says Tawoju. “I am blessed to have learned from the wealth of knowledge and expertise of the faculty members.”
During his program, Tawoju was also among the three known Black law graduate students at the University of Calgary who won the Foundation for Natural Resources and Energy Law Scholarship in 2021 and attended its 68th annual Natural Resources and Energy Law Institute in Vail, Colorado in July 2022. At the conference, he learned from discussions of energy and environmental law experts on the positive roles that law and finance play in achieving an ESG-conscious energy industry and in the transition to a low-carbon economy.
Fuelled by philosophy of service
On top of his studies, Tawoju was the graduate students’ representative on the Law Faculty Council and a member of the Governance and Equity Diversity and Inclusion committees of the university’s Graduate Students’ Association. In these roles, he contributed to, and supported initiatives that promote and advance the academic life of students at the university.
Tawoju is also a current member of both the Canadian Bar Association and the Nigerian Bar Association with hopes to expand his professional network.
“I’m connected with members of the University of Calgary’s chapter of the Black Law Students’ Association and have expanded my professional network in other platforms including the Calgary Black Chambers and the Calgary Association of Nigerian Lawyers. In essence, I find fulfilment in positively serving humanity and will continue to do so as I progress in life,” says Tawoju.
Where law will take him
Currently, Tawoju works at the Legal and Regulatory Affairs department of the Alberta Electric System Operator where he is contributing to strategies for the positive development of the Alberta electric energy industry.
“After convocation, I hope to practise law in Canada, further my research and academic endeavours, and enhance my contribution to humanity. With my desire, I hope to further my contribution to the positive reform of the energy and natural resources industry through the advancement of values that characterize environmental protection and the broad banner of sustainable development.”
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