Young and aspiring lawyers have been told to learn to exercise stress management techniques to cope with tensions in the profession which is taking a heavy toll on the health of members of the profession.
Former Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi says while the legal profession is critical for the advancement of any country, the men and women who advance these courses should not allow themselves to be drowned in work to the point of becoming case studies of how not to pursue a career
“Despite the many titles that you may get, remember that you are human beings and whatever happens to other human beings also happens to you. Many lawyers may be wearing nice suits but inside they know they are just trying to survive. Things are difficult; life has become frustrating,” he said.
He was speaking at a Nairobi hotel where the Mount Kenya University (MKU) School of Law hosted its first Alma Mater luncheon for former and current students.
The former Governor said lawyers play a crucial role in solving problems, protecting individual rights, promoting social justice and ensuring the smooth functioning of institutions of state.
“Lawyers use law as an instrument of transformation of society and they make a positive difference in the lives of many people,” he said.
He told the lawyers and students that he has also been trying to do other things that make him happy, including enrolling on a course on psychology as well as practicing law.
“Do something that you are passionate about. If you do not find excitement in law, it does not matter, go do something that you are passionate about and that makes you happy,” he said.
National Assembly Chief Whip, Silvanus Osoro, stressed to the students and alumni the importance of networking in the profession. “Always know your neighbour, who they are and what they do,” he said.
The South Mugirango MP, an alumni of MKU School of Law, encouraged young lawyers to create networks among themselves as well as the senior lawyers to be able to succeed in law, which is fast changing. “Beyond our schooling, there are phases in life where you cannot move alone. You have to network. Your strength as a lawyer is in networking. The practice of law is changing,” he said.
Lady Justice Hellen Omondi, Judge of the court of appeal said women lawyers and judges led by the Association of Women Judges are working on a structured mentorship programme for law students in all universities offering law degrees.
MKU Vice-Chancellor Prof Deogratius Jaganyi said the event offered MKU fraternity the opportunity to engage with its law graduates after a long time as well as provides them a chance to interact.
In a speech read on his behalf by MKU deputy vice chancellor (Administration, Planning and Institutional Advancement) Dr Peter Kirira, the VC said the university continues to promote access to higher education by establishing Campuses and Open, Distance and e-Learning (ODeL) Centres in different parts of eastern Africa.
“MKU praises the multiple roles played by the alumni in the society. Many of you hold key positions of major influence in society and widening scope beyond the legal fraternity. We appreciate your efforts towards the development of society, justifying the years spent by you at this institution,” he said.
The VC said the college is committed to make a strong contribution to supporting innovators and leverage on technology in the development of legal knowledge. “MKU takes cognizant that our young people must be empowered with skills and resources geared to shifting their mindsets from job seekers to job creators. Our curriculum addresses the challenges that the modern legal professional is facing through its practice-driven learning approach,” he said.
He said MKU has invested significantly on distance and electronic learning and offers several programmes being offered and examined online. “The distance and electronic learning for Master of Laws we are launching today will be convenient to many postgraduate students in the legal profession,” he added.
And speaking on behalf of MKU founder and chairman of the board, MKU pro chancellor Dr Vincent Gaitho said it was the commitment of students and lectures at the law institution which has encouraged the Board to continue investing in it. He urged the former MKU students to hold hands with the young students by acting as mentors.
MKU’s Parklands Law Campus has been in existence for less than 15 years but now has 1,000 degree students and 500 diploma students.