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Meet Brian Solonka one of Kenya's youngest advocates

Attorney General Paul Kihara awarding Brian Pareno Solonka for being the best student at Kenya School of Law in Conveyancing in the 2021 bar exams. [James Wanzala,Standard]

At 24 years, most young people are either in college or just graduated and about to venture into job market.

But, at this age, Brian Pareno Solonka, is among the youngest advocates in town.

He was among the 303 lawyers who were admitted to the bar as advocates on Monday, this week in Nairobi by Chief Justice Martha Koome.

One of the oldest advocates to be admitted during the ceremony was 76-year-old Benjamin Wamugunda Geteria.

Solonka however credits his early exposure to great lawyers through his father, Gideon Solonka, who is also an advocate.

It’s through this, including interactions with Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko, that Solonka said the urge to pursue law was born.

Others great minds that he said inspired him include Supreme Court Judge Isaac Lenaola, nominated Senator Judy Pareno and Law Society of Kenya(LSK)President Eric Theuri.

During the admissions ceremony, Theuri recognised and congratulated Solonka. He said their interaction was mooted on social media and later gave away for personal engagement.

‘‘When I was in campus doing my clinical externship at the Ministry of Environment, Tobiko was also appointed CS. I got favour with him and he took me to his office to be do legal research for him,'' said Solonka.

In an interview with The Standard at his father’s law firm at View Park Towers, Solonka said, “Tobiko would guide and mentor me about law school and even provided inspiration for my dissertation in the fourth year.''  

He said he is passionate about tax and finance law.

Brian Solonkaat his offices in Nairobi. [David Njaaga, Standard]

‘‘It’s an area I really excelled at Kenyatta University. It will fasten solving of commercial disputes, which is attractive to investors thus promote Foreign Direct Investment, which will in turn bring in more jobs,’’ said Solonka.

He is currently pursuing his Masters in Tax Administration at Kenya School of Revenue Authority (KESRA-KRA).

Solonka however said his desire to become a leading advocate has not been smooth, especially during his high school days.

In 2011 after joining high school, he was forcibly transferred from a prestigious school in Nakuru County due to what the school called poor performance.

‘‘Things were not going well well for me since my academic performance was always poor. I would get an average of grade C and D and as per the school, those grades were extremely low. I think I was not just confident with myself and didn’t believe in my capabilities,’’ he said.

Solonka said that failure to believe in his capabilities made him not pay much attention in class. He said his friends did not also help him improve.

Because of the poor performance, Solonka would then be admitted to a village school in Mashruu in Kajiado County.

He said, the school had no proper facilities compared to the former institution.

"But I chose to work harder to prove wrong those who transferred me. I emerged the best student in that school the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Examination(KCSE) in 2014, by scoring B+ of 73 points, a record which I says no one has broken till today in that institution," he said.

Solonka enrolled for a Degree in Law at Kenyatta University and graduated in 2019 with a second class upper.

"I enrolled at Kenya School of Law for the Post Graduate Advocates Training Program. I worked hard and in the first set of exams, which is the oral exam, I managed to perform exceptionally well by scoring 19 points out of 20 points," said Solonka.

He added: "In our class we had 2,000 students and out of that, only four had such points, I included."

Solonka was awarded by Attorney General Paul Kihara for being the best student at Kenya School of Law in Conveyancing in the 2021 bar exams.

Solonka has started a mentorship programme of young upcoming lawyers, where he has over 700 students, whom he assists over the weekend to understand the practicalities of law.