09:41, March 02 495 0 theguardian.com

2018-03-02 09:41:05
Pass notes  FLF Abiola: the award-winning law-firm that doesn’t exist

Name: FLF Abiola & Co.

Age: They’ve not been around long, but they’re already shaking things up.

Appearance: From the look of the website, a thrusting and dynamic law firm.

What kind of work does it do? It specialises in Nigerian film-financing law.

Any good? Award-winning good.

And what is the most-coveted award in its particular field? Film-financing law firm of the year in Nigeria.

That category certainly plays to its strengths. Indeed – so much so that it won two such awards, from Corporate INTL and Finance Monthly.

What a year it’s having! Sadly, it ended on a slightly sour note.

How come? Because FLF Abiola & Co doesn’t actually exist. It was invented by the legal gossip website Roll On Friday (ROF) to highlight a want of rigour among the glut of legal-awards companies out there.

Were there any tell-tale signs that the law firm might be less than genuine? A few: the FLF in the name stands for “fake law firm”; the photo of founder Dennis Abiola on the company website was actually a picture of actor Danny Glover; its logo bears more than a passing resemblance to an ejaculating penis.

Why would a company hand out an award to just anyone? Winners are encouraged to buy space in awards publications. Dennis Abiola – AKA ROF writer Jamie Hamilton – managed to bargain Corporate INTL down from £300 to £100 for the privilege of appearing in a featured profile.

Well haggled. Unfortunately, FLF Abiola’s “backers” smelled a rat and forbade the firm from paying “for fears of illegitimacy”.

Illegitimacy? “Sadly, the UK has a reputation here in Nigeria,” wrote Abiola, “for perpetrating sophisticated frauds on our citizens. Yours in Christ.”

A lovely touch. Doesn’t Jamie Hamilton have a bit of form in this area? He does. Just last year he persuaded Finance Monthly to issue him with a “game changers” award while posing as a Cypriot water-taxi entrepreneur.

What do these two companies have to say about getting caught out? Director of Finance Monthly Andrew Palmer says: “We have not met our usual high standards and have taken immediate necessary steps to ensure this never happens again.”

Do say: “We’re flattered, but no thanks – yours in Christ.”

Don’t say: “You know what? This is a really good idea for a film!”


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