Kenya mulls status of law students

Saturday August 10 2019

The roll of advocate

New advocates take the oath of admission to the roll of advocate at the Supreme Court of Kenya on October 1, 2018. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

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A task force appointed by the Kenyan government in 2016 has proposed that non-EAC members be barred from the country’s Advocates Training Programme (ATP) at the Kenya School of Law.

The entrants must, however, have the legal qualifications, says the Task Force on Legal Sector Reforms submitted to the National Assembly by Attorney General Kihara Kariuki.

“Enrolment of non-Kenyans to the Advocates Training Programme for purposes of admission to the Roll of Advocates in Kenya should be stopped forthwith, unless candidates demonstrate eligibility within sections 12 and 13 of the Advocates Act of the laws of Kenya,” said its report.

Sections 12 of the Act requires one to be a citizen of Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, and Burundi, and duly qualified as an advocate to practise law in Kenya.

South Sudan became a member of the EAC in 2016, but the Act has not been amended to include it.

Section 13 sets out the professional and academic qualifications for admission as an advocate: Apart from possessing the Bachelor of Laws degree, one must have been admitted and completed the ATP at the KSL, and undergone pupillage for at least six months with an advocate of five years’ standing.


Lawyers who already have been admitted as advocates in certain jurisdictions may also qualify for admission to the Bar in Kenya. The task force proposes that admission should not be automatic.

Member state’s reciprocity

They argue that in spite of the efforts by Kenya to recognise qualifications from other EAC countries, this has not been reciprocated, and recommend that the Kenya government ensure that the process of recognition and approval of foreign qualifications also consider a member state’s reciprocity.

The task force was established in 2016 by former AG Prof Githu Muigai to evaluate, review and recommend reform proposals on the suitability of legal training in Kenya, the legal and institutional framework for regulating and licensing legal education providers and the practice licensing and membership process.

The ATP is the vocational training programme for entry into the legal profession in Kenya.

The law requires that before anyone can be admitted to the Roll of Advocates of the High Court of Kenya such a person must be admitted to and attend the ATP.

The programme has two components; the training aspect administered by the Kenya School of Law and the Bar exams administered by the Council of Legal Education.

“Foreign students who are not East Africans must be made to understand that legal education and training does not operate as an automatic guarantee for admission to the Roll of Advocates in Kenya,” the report states.

It argues that the current situation had created a legitimate expectation by foreign students who are admitted to study law or who obtain legal education and training in Kenya