Next Generation Lawyer: Take Aways from Katende Ssempebwa & Co’s Career Conference at UCU
On 24th January 2020, Uganda Christian University, through the Uganda Christian University Law Society, hosted one of the leading law firms in Uganda, Katende ssempebwa & Co. Advocates, for a career guidance conference under the theme “The next Generation Lawyer.”
The Law Firm is celebrating fifty years in Service and they have been giving back to the community in that regard.
It has accorded pro-bono (free) legal services, visited different Universities imparting experience driven information on the life skills due to a Lawyer, among other initiatives.
The firm was represented by Counsel Jane Akiteng, Alice Namuli
Blazevic, Edwin Wabwire, Patrick Mugalula, Edwin Mugumya and Emmanuel Muwonge.
Katende Ssempebwa and Co. Advocates commonly known as KATS is a Ugandan law firm headquartered in Kampala. It is the Country’s longest standing corporate commercial firm founded in
1969. It is the biggest full service Ugandan firm in terms of Lawyer numbers and support staff. The firm is also a member of LEX Africa network.
KATS at 50 years is no doubt, Uganda’s oldest Law firm.
The law firm has 25 Lawyers and a total number of 60 employees. The firm was founded by John W.Katende and Professor Fredrick E.Ssempebwa.The Law firm is famously known for advising on the Warid Telecom Uganda $500 million merger with Bharti Airtel in 2013. The firm also advised the Government of Uganda on the development of a $3Billion oil refinery which was the first of its kind in Uganda. KATS also litigated a Constitutional Petition in 2007 that saw Uganda get rid of a mandatory death penalty.
According to Counsel Jane Akiteng, today, is by far her greatest moment. She is the head of the Family and Intellectual Property department at the firm. She says for a very long time she had been doing things by the book and wanted to live every day of her life in Law practice as she had been taught in Law school until her turning moment when she could
not write a simple letter to her daughter who had asked her to write the letter as she left for school.
As she wrote this simple letter, the legal language and parlance surfaced the entire time and she figured her daughter
would not understand. This is when she decided things had to change and that she ought to change as society evolved.
Her speech was largely based on what Lawyers ought to be doing – things not taught in Law School. She mentioned a number of things, including; telling lies. She shared a short story of the first time she had to lie in court to save her client from trouble and emphasized that she was not encouraging lying but rather
” What kind of lie are you telling?”
“Is it detrimental to you or your client? ” She insisted that if you must lie it should be for the right reasons. She encouraged the students to always do the
right thing and not stick to what is written in the books. She encouraged diversity and said it was important for a lawyer to keep informed. She emphasized that legal education makes us who we are and that lawyers needed to apply their education in their lives, jobs and society.
According to her, Law is a business and Lawyers ought to be versatile and all round because the law has become quite
On her part, Counsel Alice Namuli Blazevic talked about commerciability -the ability to be commercial which she said it is a plus to the next generation Lawyer.
“Develop your commercial ability from a young age,commercial awareness
and communication. People have forgotten the rules of writing and yet how you write portrays who you are.” She said.
Lawyers are taught in school not to attach emotion to the cases they
handle but Alice encourages the next generation lawyers to be empathetic.
“Lawyers should understand the client’s needs. Put yourself in the Client’s shoes and understand their problem,you will advise better.”
She encouraged the Law students to be flexible and resilient and not give up even when everything seems to be failing.
“Lawyers should be flexible.Practice may
not suit what you studied in Law school.Condition your mind to change your mindset.Work hard to improve
your relevant skills ”
When the discussion was opened to the Students, as would be expected they had a ton of questions to ask. One, simply asked, how he could be a millionaire. To this, Counsel Edwin Mugumya responded that one’s attributes as Lawyer can make them rich. The attributes he talked of are hard work, business acumen and the ability to get the job done.
“How does one know which field to specialize in?” Another student asked. Counsel Patrick Mugalula replied that specialization is about what you like, the market needs and one’s skill.
Speaking of the event, Mr Kadaga Timothy who is the University’s Guild President said it was ” a lovely experience.”
“We got to learn from the best. It was not a waste of time. First and foremost, I got to learn that it’s your passion that drives you. Any sector that you choose still has money – private or public service. You just have to be your best. I also learnt
that it’s not about the books.It’s about the social work. As a lawyer you need to also spread out your wings
and create more friends. It’s about networking. I thank the UCU Law Society that was able to bring us one of the best law firms in Uganda to talk to us” Mr. Kadaga said.
Ms. Kabasiita Shammah Joy, the President of Uganda Christian Law Society said she wanted the firm to have a bond with their Law School.
“I felt the need for the law firm to have a bond with the University since they have initially been so attached to Makerere Uiversity. We felt the need to seize the
opportunity of their 50 years celebration to have them come talk to our law students by giving them guidance
in their careers and what to expect in the field,which they have done. Many of our students would want to
intern from the law firm and it was important for them to know what the firm would be expecting of them.
They have appreciated how we welcomed them. On our side as a Law Society, it is an achievement. Opportunities have been opened for the students and I have no doubt more students will apply to do their
Mr Waboga David, a 2nd year Law student said he was glad that the firm cleared the air on allegations that they do not take up Uganda Christian University students for internship.
“ I am glad I had the opportunity to hear from the best. I also love the fact that they cleared the air about allegations that the firm does not take up UCU students to intern at the law firm. It gives me peace to think that we can also do internship there. I learnt from them that no matter what field I specialize in or wherever I may end up I can thrive. I just have to be the best at whatever I
decide to major in. It was generally a great experience.”
The team from Katende Ssempebwa and Co were humbled by the way they were welcomed to the University they loved the serenity and holistic environment. Counsel Edwin Mugumya jokingly said every building in the University looked like a Church and that he was feeling in the “Spirit.” Counsel Patrick Mugalula said it was a great feeling being back home and if anything that he misses the times back at the School .
The team stayed at the University till
8pm, making merry, talking to the students,and sharing more of their experiences with them.