A top city public interest lawyer has advised law students and lawyers against thinking their law degree is a guarantee they will be successful lawyers.
Mr. Isaac Ssemakadde who was addressing the Clinical Legal Education (CLE) class at Makerere University law school on Friday on the art of lawyering told the students that to be elite lawyers they would have to do more than just study the law.
” A law degree doesn’t give you a licence to succeed as a lawyer ” He said. ” Somewhere between the law degree and the epitome of your career, you have to amass some experience that makes you effective in the art of lawyering…”
Mr Ssemakadde was lecturing the students on the art of lawyering particularly when it comes to legal writing, which he noted forms the bulk of a lawyer’s work in the law firm.
He advised the students to seek out exposure through reading and mentorship to be great legal writers.
” I receive so many recent graduates and I find that they are not exposed. They don’t even read anymore.” Mr Isaac Ssemakadde said. ” Woe unto your generation which is living in the age of illusion, the age of foolishness brought about by social media where you have access to too much to read that you don’t even read at all.”
Mr. Isaac Ssemakadde further urged his audience to look up and customise templates of all documents that need to be drafted in a legal career such as the “Encyclopedia of Forms and Precedents” published by LexisNexis.
” No one is inventing the law. No one is starting the law today. The law is very old and therefore forms and precedents have been compiled by those good lawyers who wanted things to be shared ” He said.
“Good lawyers stock these things (forms and precedents) and if you have never seen these things you are going to remain poor and mediocre. You are going to be a Kwashiorkor lawyer simply because you aren’t exposed to the sunlight of the best forms and precedents.”
Ssemakadde also warned against the use of jargon in legal writing, saying it should remain a preserve of chit-chat in the office canteen.
He called on the students to embrace new trends in legal writing such as the use of plain english and homegrown rhetoric.
While criticizing the eliticism of the copious judgments of the Ugandan courts in the Age Limit Petition/Appeal, the top constitutional lawyer commended the Kenyan courts for decontextualizing complex issues of constitutional law in the BBI case by endeavouring to explain everything to the mythical “Wanjiku”, “Mama Mboga” and “Bodaboda”.