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Over half of law graduates fail to qualify as advocates

Some of the advocates who were admitted to the Bar in December 2016 at the Supreme Court buildings. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Some of the advocates who were admitted to the Bar in December 2016 at the Supreme Court buildings. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

More than a half of law graduates from local universities fail to qualify as advocates of the High Court, a new report shows.

The report indicates that out of 16,086 students who sat the Bar examinations administered by Council of Legal Education (CLE) between 2009 and 2016, 8,549 or 53 per cent failed with only 7,530 passing.

The report, by a taskforce on legal sector reforms chaired by lawyer Fred Ojiambo, is set to be discussed by stakeholders at a conference that started Tuesday and will end on January 18 in Mombasa.

The conference is being attended by representatives of universities, CLE and others in the legal profession.

Attorney-General Githu Muigai set up the task force in September 2016 to look at the training of legal professionals in the country.

Employed by firms

The report points out that 5,298 students who failed bar exams are employed by law firms, county governments, and universities among others.

In the report, 53 students who failed their examinations in 2009, 62 in 2010, 324 in 2011, 595 in 2012, 1,113 in 2013 are still sitting for the exams hoping to pass.

For 2013, the students who failed but are still in the system are 1,365, 1,786 for 2015 while 2016 has the highest number of failures at 3,251 in the system.

In 2016, only 1,009 students passed the bar exams while 3,251 failed.

Undergraduate degrees

The report indicates that candidates who failed the bar exams had obtained their undergraduate degrees in local universities.

Kenyatta University leads with 30 per cent, Moi University 22 per cent, University of Nairobi 20 per cent, Catholic University of Eastern Africa eight per cent, Kabarak University six per cent, University of Nairobi, Mombasa campus, at five per cent, Nazarene University at two per cent, Mount Kenya University at four per cent and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology at two per cent.

“Unfortunately, while the number of graduates has increased there have been concerns about deterioration in the quality, professional capacity, and competence of these graduates as they transition into practitioners,” the report says.

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