Oluwadamilola (Dami) Thompson

Venture Capital Attorney, Nonprofit Founder
Professional Track LL.M., Class of 2020

I work at EchoVC Partners, a venture capital (VC) fund in Lagos, Nigeria and we invest in African and Africa-focused tech startups. Many of these startups have HQs in the US. One of my reasons for coming to Berkeley Law was to ensure that I have full knowledge and understanding of US laws to enable me advise our fund and portfolio companies.

As VC is still nascent in Africa, and there are not many lawyers and entrepreneurs experienced in venture capital transactions. This has made the investment process very challenging.

So I co-founded a not-for-profit – Ventures Dialogue – where we educate founders, lawyers and investors and train them on how to fundraise and build a business in Nigeria’s unique consumer market. In Nigeria, an entrepreneur first has to provide his own ecosystem to thrive and then rely on the government for other perks. So essentially, everything you need for your business to survive is dependent on you. But this has proved very challenging and overwhelming for entrepreneurs. So we decided to create a support system for entrepreneurs by providing mentorship, business and legal advisory services, investment opportunities, skill-based trainings to entrepreneurs to help them scale their businesses at no costs!! As a lawyer, I also offer free legal services and trainings in my spare time to founders.

Nigerian entrepreneurs have an incredible drive that inspires me to want to do whatever I can to support them. It’s an amazing feeling to help a business that is trying to solve an important problem succeed. Helping to pay it forward means a lot to me and encourages me to do more.

Coming to Berkeley Law was an opportunity for me to develop myself and enable me give back to my community. I couldn’t afford to take an entire year off work, as that would cause some disruption to the internal processes at our fund. I knew that if I was going to take time off work at all it had to be worth it. Berkeley Law is the only law school that has a masters degree program focused on venture capital financing and offers the two-summer LL.M. program. So Berkeley was the only option for me, and I only applied to Berkeley Law.

I am thoroughly enjoying my experience here. It has been challenging and fulfilling at the same time. The education system is very different from back home. Here, you are encouraged to have an opinion and required to bring forward counter-arguments where your thoughts do not align with that of your professors. But this is not the same in Nigeria, as many professors think it an affront to be challenged or have thoughts different from theirs. That mind-shift and audacity has made a huge difference in my thought-process. Also, the broad spectrum of courses I am taking here at Berkeley Law have helped me be more insightful and will absolutely help me become an even better corporate lawyer as they encompass global real-life issues. I am looking forward to going back home to make a bigger difference!