Legal Luminary Profile: Chief Olufolake Solanke SAN

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Chief Folake Solanke SAN

Chief Olufolake Solanke SAN became the first female lawyer appointed as senior advocate of Nigeria in March 1981. Educated at the Honourable Society of Gray’s Inn in London, Chief Solanke SAN has earned an internationally respected reputation.

Born in Abeokuta in Ogun state on 29th March 1932, her father was the well-known J.S Odulate, founder/ proprietor of Alabukun medicine store Abeokuta while her mother was Late Madam Sekumade Abiodun Odulate.

She attended Ago Oko primary school Abeokuta from 1937-1939, Emo Girls School Abeokuta from 1940-1944 and Methodist Girls High School Yaba Lagos from 1945-1949. Her young formative years did indeed point to a bright future as her natural brilliance and talents were copiously displayed through out her career in MGHS, she consistently took the first prize in English and mathematics. She became the first student of the school to obtain grade one at the West Africa School Certificate Examinations. In 1950, she did a one year higher course in Queens’ College then in Onikan Lagos before proceeding to England for her post basic education. In 1951, she entered the King’s College in the University of Durham, now the University of Newcastle in England where she obtained her BA (2nd Division) Latin and mathematics in 1954. She joined Pipers Corner School, Great Kingshill, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, England  where she taught Latin and mathematics from 1955-1957. Later she moved to St. Monica’s school, England to teach the same subjects from 1957 -1958.  In 1960, she was admitted into Gray’s Inn London for her professional training and was called to bar in 1962.

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Upon returning to Nigeria from England in 1962, Chief Folake Solanke joined the chambers of MA Odesanya in Lagos from August  1962 – May 1963 from where she moved to the chambers of Chief FRA Williams in Ibadan as Junior council in 1963. Following her conferment with Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) in 1981, Chief Solanke was installed the Yeyemofin of Ife by the Ooni Oba Okunade Sijuwade Olabuse II.

She has held many positions in various institutions and associations covering a wide spectrum of activities. In 1972, she was appointed commissioner, Western State of Nigeria. Chairman, Western Government broadcasting corporation television and radio network service. On the international scene, Chief Folake Solanke became a source of pride not only for Nigeria and the Nigerian woman but also for Africa and the black world as a whole. On July 21st 1994 she became the 42nd president of Zonta International.  This made her the first non – Caucasian to be elected and to hold the position of Zonta International President since Zonta was founded in 1919.

Chief Solanke SAN was awarded the 2012 IBA Outstanding International Woman Lawyer Award at the IBA 5th World Women Lawyers’ Conference in London in recognition of her professional excellence and contribution to the advancement of women within the legal profession.

She has published two books, “Reaching for the Stars (2007)” and “A Compendium of Selected Lectures and Papers (2012)”She has written numerous papers and publications covering vast areas including law, women’s rights, Zonta and Christian topics.

Chief Olufolake Solanke, SAN, Yeyemofin of Ife, former president of Zonta, Internationally acclaimed Outstanding Woman Lawyer is  brilliant, hardworking and focused.

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She is truly an inspiration to humanity and a Legal Luminary!

Culled: Hall Mark of Labour Foundation; Who’s who Legal

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