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Kenya's criminal lawyer

Updated: Nov 11, 2023

By Imran Shaikh Nov. 9, 2023


The ability to win over two dozen cases in a row is something many lawyers would be proud to have. This achievement is what characterized Kenyan lawyer Brian Mwenda. However, upon investigating Mwenda, the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) made a shocking discovery: Brian Mwenda was not even a lawyer in the first place.


Daniel Choi Art

After they intercepted this imposter, the LSK revealed how he was able to practice law without even passing the bar exam. They explained that Mwenda, whose full name is Brian Njagi Mwenda, impersonated Brian Ntigwa Mwenda, a legitimate lawyer who practiced in Nairobi. After gaining access to the LSK portal, Mwenda switched the real Mwenda’s profile picture with his own and applied for a practicing certificate. With his infiltration successful, Mwenda is rumored to have participated in 26 cases, apparently winning every single one of them, per The New York Times. The real Mwenda only found out about this in September, when he was blocked from logging into his account. After being notified by the real Mwenda, the LSK sent its Rapid Action Team to pursue the fake.


The LSK denounced Mwenda, explaining that he is not an Advocate of the High Court. However, the general public expressed mixed reactions to the whole ordeal. While many legal officials are outraged at the irony of having what they deem as a criminal act as a lawyer, many others have expressed their support for Mwenda.


Daniel Choi Art

Kenya’s Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) praised Mwenda as a brilliant young mind and Francis Atwoli, COTU’s secretary general, explained that Mwenda should be given an assessment of his legal skills to determine whether he should become an actual lawyer or not. Additionally, Nairobi’s former governor, Mike Sonko, explained in a video that those criticizing Mwenda are “nincompoops” and that he is not a criminal. Sonko called for his viewers to refrain from condemning Mwenda, emphasizing that people like him are the future of the country.


In the same video, Mwenda voiced his appreciation for his supporters. Throughout the video Mwenda maintained his innocence, claiming that he lacks the technological prowess to hack into the LSK portal. Mwenda concluded the video by explaining that, although he has not yet been arrested, he plans to record a statement and let the court decide on the situation.


“Mwenda is extremely inspiring. However, although his accomplishment of winning 26 straight cases without the necessary qualifications to become a lawyer is very impressive, his circumvention of government laws should not be allowed, as this may promote further lawbreaking,” Junior Sean Nguyen-Fell said.

Mwenda is not Kenya’s only fake lawyer in recent times—Kenya’s Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions reported four other cases of people pretending to be lawyers or fraudulently running law firms. The New York Times attributes this number to Kenya’s current economic state; rising inflation, tax hikes and soaring gas prices have made some turn to impersonating lawyers in order to earn a living.


This influx of fake lawyers has sparked debate across Kenya. While legal officials assert that a proper education is required to enter a profession that determines the course of many lives, others doubt the need for such traditional paths.


“The presence of fake lawyers undermines the effort of real, certified lawyers who worked hard to get to where they are now. Nevertheless, I do understand how economic stressors can cause individuals to take such extreme measures,” Senior Alana Shin said.

Mwenda’s supporters claim that his case serves as a call to make the legal world more transparent and accessible—which would help ensure justice for all Kenyan citizens. In a country where less than 5% have a college degree, a lawyer who is successful without a university education can be seen as a folk hero.

 

About the Contributors


Imran Shaikh

editor-in-Chief


Imran Shaikh is a Senior at Leland High School and is the School News, Community News and Feature World Editor-in-Chief for The Charger Account. In his free time he likes to listen to music, play video games and attempt to fix his sleep schedule.


Daniel Choi

artist


Daniel Choi is a junior at Leland High School and an artist for The Charger Account. During his free time, he enjoys watching shows, taking walks and sleeping.

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