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Breaking the Ice: ‘Rush of the deal’ fuels M&A lawyer

Todd Nelson//November 18, 2021//

Breaking the Ice: ‘Rush of the deal’ fuels M&A lawyer

Todd Nelson//November 18, 2021//

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Name: Dotun Obadina

Title: Partner, Jones Day, Minneapolis office

Education: B.S., political science; J.D., Marquette University Law School

After Dotun Obadina first felt “the rush of doing a deal,” the partner in Jones Day’s Minneapolis office knew he would specialize in mergers and acquisitions.

“The high-profile nature of getting something signed and the feeling that you get, kind of the ‘deal high’ that you get at the end of it, that was enough for me,” Obadina said.

Obadina expects 2021 will be a record year for M&A activity, which came roaring back late in the third quarter of 2020 after shutting down earlier in the year because of the pandemic.

He recently advised Huntington Ingalls Industries in its $1.65 billion acquisition of Alion Science and Technology. Factors driving transactions include tax changes, low interest rates, companies seeking growth opportunities and money available for deals, Obadina said.

The M&A practice is notorious for ebbs and flows, Obadina said, “so you have to lean into the downturn, as well as the upturn.”

Obadina began working at Jones Day’s Pittsburgh office in June 2016. That was just before the firm opened its office in Minneapolis, his hometown, which he joined in late 2017.

Q: Best way to start a conversation with you?

A: Just saying hello. I’m a pretty extroverted guy, so anybody who’s interested in having a having a conversation with me, I’m usually more than open to doing that.

Q: Why did you go to law school?

A: My favorite author growing up was John Grisham. I read all his books and always saw myself as being a lawyer. I loved to negotiate with my parents on anything, and they always said, “You’re going to be a lawyer one day.” I guess I kind of internalized that. When I started undergrad, I knew I was going to be a lawyer.

Q: What books are you reading?

A: From the John Grisham days I switched over to character-driven novels. One of my favorite authors is Elizabeth Strout, who wrote “Olive Kitteridge.” One of her quotes, and one of my favorites was “I write fiction because it’s true.” And I read fiction because it’s true. You’re able to speak to human truths in them, so I tend to like novels. The one I just read was “A Little Life.” I’m currently reading “Night. Sleep. Death. The Stars,” by Joyce Carol Oates. I’m in the middle of that and enjoying it.

Q: What’s your pet peeve?

A: People who are not forthright.

Q: Best part of your work?

A: Working with clients and counseling clients. I love it. And then the negotiation piece as well. But really, it’s counseling and working with clients. You develop some really great relationships that way, and I’ve come to cherish them.

Q: Least favorite?

A: Billing and collections. It’s very necessary but that’s my least favorite.

Q: Favorite activity away from work?

A: I love walking around the lakes and doing that kind of thing and being outside. And then I love a good story. Whether that’s through movies, plays or books, I love a good story.

Q: Where would you take someone visiting your hometown?

A: Minneapolis is my hometown. If I were to show somebody my hometown and some of my favorite places, I love to eat and so I would say I would take them to Spoon and Stable for a nice dinner.

Q: Legal figure you most admire?

A: The dean of my law school is one of my first mentors and people I admire the most: Dean Joseph Kearney at Marquette University Law School.

Q: Favorite book, movie or TV show about lawyers?

A: I’ve got to go with “A Time to Kill” or “The Client.” John Grisham. Those are among the first lawyer books I read, they made a big impression on me so if I have to pick one, I’ve got to pick those. I have the movies in there too. Matthew McConaughey and Tom Cruise. They both were good, they both held up.


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