To all my seniors at the Binaisa Gardens, Congratulations! Mr. Frank Nigel Othembi, Mrs. Joyce Werikhe and the entire able team at the Law Development Center have done their part.
Adorned in your marvelous wing collar, flaps and lawyer’s gown, you are now Christine Naturinda, LLB (Hons), Dip LP (LDC), Esq. and probably soon, LLM.
Chaps from your village are busy whispering about how you are now a man or woman of letters. But perhaps you are more than just that; you are now a learned fellow.
Your graduation provides yet another chance to further redeem the profession’s image to it’s glorious self. Your individual commitments, values and choices will count a lot.
Soon, to make it to that coveted list, you will pen that letter to the secretary of the Law Council. Be smart, avoid the typos.
After that, remember to become a fully paid-up member of the Uganda Law Society. You will need it. During your visit at the secretariat, you are likely to meet society President Ruth Sebatindira, Executive Director Grace Babihuga Nuwagaba, Head Legal Aid & Probono Aaron Besigye and many more good people to quickly grow your network and learn more how you can work with the society.
By this time, Caroline Muziki and the team will probably be mulling over placing a knock at your doors to ask you to take on Probono files. Please, do so graciously. Harriet Mawaru may also bring along a few Lawyers Voice magazines and some fantastic branded shirts for sale, be sure to buy a piece to keep abreast of the latest trends.
And so, is it going to be commercial practice, not-for profit, judiciary or your passion is in the corporate world to manage one of those powerful in-house legal departments. Or you want to join politics and become an MP of your village?
Should you join commercial practice, remember to serve diligently, be bold but courteous. Keep your word. Stay true to your ideals. Account for every penny a client pays you. Through client satisfaction, the word of mouth out there will make you a David F.K. Mpanga or Ernest Kalibbala and of course, a few worthwhile fat cheques.
If you join judiciary, remember our justice system is ailing. The challenges are well documented. It will be your time to be the change you have always wanted to see there.
At the stroke of your pen, people will go on long pre-trial detention and so much can happen very fast. But by the same stroke, justice can prevail against all odds.
You may also be thinking about taking pride in becoming a Legal Aid Advocate or going into advocacy. I can tell you from experience that it is gratifying to help an indigent or marginalized person access justice.
You do not have to be a jack-of-all-trades but a master of none. Read a lot, try to be a polymath but find your niche.
Find a mentor. Learn from their experience but remember not to lose yourself as a person. Know thyself. Nurture camaraderie.
Hone skills such as interpersonal, research, analytical, creativity, communication, comprehension and writing. Also, look out for continuing legal education to keep up with new trends. Great lawyers are masters of these.
But for now, just savour the moment. It is your day. Have fun, you have earned it, cut that cake, because after today; hard work awaits you. That piece of paper is your introduction to real life; the skills that you possess will define you.
Out there, things are not as rosy as some have painted.
For what it is worth, Good luck!