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CS Wamalwa, Haji among 47 seeking senior counsel title

By Kamau Muthoni | October 3rd 2020 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, Director of Public Prosecution Noordin Haji and former Independent, Electoral and Boundaries Commission chair Isaack Hassan are among 47 applicants seeking to be conferred the title of senior counsel.

The three join a list of prominent lawyers whose names were dropped after vetting for the race of the honorary title.

Former LSK President Allen Gichuhi, his predecessor Eric Mutua, veteran lawyer John Khaminwa and Donald Kipkorir who missed out on last year’s honours, have also re-applied.

Others seeking the title are Catherine Musakali, Wambui Njogu, Jane Sumbeiywo, Maria Goreti, Jacqueline Waihenya, Michi Karimi and lawyer Julie Soweto. These are the only female advocates who heeded an advertisement published on February 20.

Former Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board chairman Sharad Rao, and Kamau Karori and William Maema, two partners in one of the country’s largest commercial law firms, Iseme, Kamau & Maema Advocates, are also seeking to join the exclusive club.

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Other prominent lawyers in the list include Patrick Lumumba, Njoroge Regeru, Paul Nyamodi, Gor Mahia chairman Ambrose Rachier and Ochieng’ Oduor.

University of Nairobi lecturer Ben Sihanya, who was Raila Odinga’s lawyer during the 2017 presidential election petition, is also shortlisted.

Coveted title

John Chebii, Musili Wambua, Justry Nyaberi and Ken Kiplagat are among advocates in academia seeking the coveted title.

Applicants are vetted by a committee that comprises the AG, a Court of Appeal judge, a High Court judge, three senior counsels and four advocates.

According to the Law Society of Kenya, one must have minimum 15 years’ experience as an advocate in addition to high integrity and unquestionable professional conduct. One must also have contributed to development of the legal profession through scholarly writings and presentations within the legal profession.

“The person must not have been convicted of any professional misconduct, have sound knowledge of the law, must have argued a substantive precedent-setting case before a superior court or international court, must have undertaken community service, and served the LSK in any capacity,” LSK said in the notice calling for applicants.

After vetting, the committee recommends the names to the President for conferment. The names are then published in a gazette notice, opening a floodgate of privileges.

According to the Advocates (Senior Counsel Conferment and Privileges) (Amendment) Rules, 2014, a senior counsel enjoys the privilege of having their cases dealt with first in court or before a tribunal.

“They have the prestige of appearing robed in court, with a gown and court sleeved waistcoat similar to Court of Appeal judges,” the rules state.

Such preferential treatment does not end with robes as they also get to occupy the front seats while attending court sessions.

Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa DPP Noordin Haji
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