Campaigns for the elections for the position of the President of the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) are their peak.
Four legal minds are battling out for the position and we caught up with one of the candidates, Maria Mbeneka and sought to know what she has in store for the Law Society of Kenya.
How do you envision the Law Society of Kenya when you take over as President?
I envision one Society. The Law Society of Kenya has evolved over the years through a rich history of tradition and greatness.
We subscribe to ethics, tradition, and above all, a common goal; the law. Our diverse composition and expertise give us a great advantage to create solutions, develop the law and jurisprudence as well as offer public opinions and guide the Government on policy and regulations.
How do you plan to ensure that there will be the promotion and upholding of the rule of law once elected?
The discourse on the constitutionals reforms and amendments, and legislative reform, requires the input and direction of the Law Society of Kenya.
I will ensure that the Society’s voice is heard by timelessly providing the position of the law and advising on the legality of public discourse on upholding and fidelity to the rule of law, independence of the constitution.
This we will achieve through Public Interest Litigation, robust Consultative forums within branches and a unified approach through the Council.
There has been an issue of the acquisition of practicing certificates by advocates. What are your plans to change the situation?
I will push for the amendment of S.22 (2) of the Advocates Act to allow LSK to process and issue Practice Certificates immediately upon application by a compliant member.
How are you going to support and empower the LSK branches once elected as President?
As a Treasurer of LSK, I have been involved in ensuring the devolving of funds to the Braches. I intend to develop tools and mechanisms to improve audit and utilization of funds that will enable each branch and chapter to easily comply with the disbursement of funds from the National office which will, in turn, improve efficiency and promote transparency amongst members and address challenges in the absorption of funds.
Do you have anything for the Advocates in terms of self-care policy?
Oh yes. The high-placed, high priority and the demanding nature of an Advocate’s work, place a lot of pressure on members, not only to succeed locally but also to compete within the region and internationally. This presents different sets of challenges that call for a good work-life balance.
My proposal is to develop a self-care policy to be implemented in partnership with the Advocates Benevourlent Association (ABA), devolved to each branch to help our members cope with mental health, Alcohol and Drug Abuse at the branch and practice center level.
What about the Legal Aid Programs for the advocates, do you have anything in the offing for them?
Yes. I will push for the establishment of continuous Legal Aid Policy that will be cascaded to the branches, chapters and practice centers. This will involve partnership with the Legal Aid Authority, Kituo Cha Sheria and other strategic partners to develop a Legal Aid Program that will tackle different areas of the law thereby giving our members ab opportunity to provide legal aid to the public based on their areas of interest and specialization.
How do you plan to use technology in moving the activities of LSK to the next level?
I will put in place the development and the operationalization of an APP for members for ease of access to information, a chatbot for the real-time information and assistance from the Secretariat; functionality to raise alarm and/or notify the Secretariat in the event of an emergency, arrest or detention by police; application and download of practice certificates, management of CPD and integration with relevant organization for ease of access to e-filling, cause lists, case law, research and mentorship/pupilage program, savings and loans.
I will also establish an E-library at no extra cost to members to allow members to utilize their Library Fees Levy and get value for their subscription.
How do you plan to uphold the tradition of Seniority?
I will use what I call “Each One Help One.” The tradition of seniority, the Pupil/Master relationship in our society is one that offers an opportunity for practicing Advocates to guide and mentor those newly joining the profession.
A well-designed and updated mentorship platform that will provide and match the aspirations of a student to the developed skills of a practicing Advocate is a flagship I will put in place under Each One Help One mentorship Program to enable young lawyers waiting to join the legal profession while still at Kenya School of Law to find pupilage and mentorship online.
What is your take on the predominant and emerging areas of practice?
With the changes in the traditional areas of practice, there is a need to actively update and amend the laws to protect practice areas such as WIBA and Conveyancing to name a few; my focus will be on engaging Parliament and stakeholders to address the existing gaps.
I will also support through CPDs training in skillsets and capacity building in the new and emerging practice areas so that members can have opportunities to explore and gain new practice areas.
Here is Maria Mbeneka’s Manifesto: