Lawyers have been counseled to refrain from making statements in the media about controversial legal developments if they want to build long-term and sustained successful careers.
The advice was offered at the 2023 annual law conference organized by the Uganda Law Society under the theme; “Redefining legal practice in the age of disruption.”
Asked about how his law firm Katende Ssempebwa & Co Advocates has managed to stay on top of the legal industry for more than 50 years, Sim Katende, one of the most prolific commercial lawyers in Uganda told his colleagues that they have been good at “minimizing friction” by not engaging in partisan politics and other controversies.
“ You will notice that as a firm we even try to minimize our comments in the press.”Sim said, noting that his law firm has been handling the most talked about cases this week – the “ No divorce without adultery case,” and Jamaican dancehall Artist Konshens’ case against Airtel Uganda.
“ Everyone has commented but we haven’t because we don’t criticize a Judge in the Press. I will not get on the wrong side of a Judge because tomorrow I will be appearing before them.”He added.
Mr. Sim Katende who was speaking as part of a panel of law firm managers about “Navigating law firm evolution: Strategies for success, talent management, and sustainable growth in the age of disruption” narrowed down law firm success to two things; Being “greedy” – which was his tongue in cheek way of saying “keeping away from anything that affects your ability to make money” and Striving for relevance which he categorically said trumps everything else including excellence and technology.
“ All of these marketing books tell you about the pursuit of excellence. I have a different view; for a law firm to remain successful you don’t have to pursue excellence. You don’t even have to pursue any of these technologies. You only have to pursue relevance. Are you still relevant to your client? Are you still relevant to your market? Are you still relevant to the audience you are speaking to? As long as you keep that [relevance], you remain [ successful].”Sim Katende said.
“ Do you think it’s by mistake that Cindy has picked Sheebah to fight? She’s trying to remain relevant. Most of her songs are from 5-10 years ago but she’s saying ‘if I pick this battle, I will remain relevant!’He added.
On the panel was James Ssebugenyi of old and top law firm S&L Advocates who talked to the lawyers about talent management in law firms.
Mr. James Ssebugenyi and Sim Katende seemed to agree that hiring and maintaining great talent is key to ensuring law firm success.
Ssebugenyi noted that there is increased talent flight as talented lawyers nowadays have many options and demands necessitating law firms to be intentional about talent development.
“ Some of these young lawyers want opportunities to do good work. I gave a lawyer who had just come from LDC to work on a Supreme Court appeal that I am handling. The young man told me; ‘ How come you have given me an opportunity to deal with a Supreme Court matter which you are handling and is very sensitive. I told him; ‘ I wanted you to swim in the deep end without a life jacket so that one day you will appreciate the opportunity I have given you and give it to somebody else.’” Mr Ssebugenyi said.
Benjamin Ahikiiriza is a Legal Writer And Digital Communications & Marketing Specialist majoring in Lawyers, Law Firms And the larger Legal Sector.
Benjamin currently Works as the Director of Content and Business Development At LegalReports.