At least 60 people, among them Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka and former Justice minister Martha Karua, have applied to join lawyers’ exclusive club of Senior Counsel.
Also in the list are former Mombasa mayor Taib Ali Taib, former DPP Philip Murgor, Prof Ben Sihanya, Nairobi LSK chairman Charles Kanjama, Justus Munyithya, the chairman of Political Parties Dispute Tribunal Kyalo Mbobu, lawyer Njoroge Regeru, Mr Wambua Kilonzo and Dr Imaana Laibuta,
Others are Moi University lecturer Prof Nixon Sifuna, veteran lawyer Dr John Khaminwa, Mr Katwa Kigen, Mr Donald Kipkorir, Mr Evans Monari, Mr Wilfred Nderitu and Ms Judy Thongori.
Others who applied for the position as per an advertisement by LSK sent in January last year are Mr James Mwamu and former LSK president Eric Mutua, Mr Mohamed Nyaoga, Mr Ambrose Rachier, Ms Surinder Kapila, Mr Fred Ngatia, Mr Kioko Kilikumi, Prof Albert Mumma, the current LSK president Allen Gichuhi and Mr Ochieng Oduol.
It has been more than five years since persons were recommended to join the Roll, the equivalent of Queen’s Counsel in the United Kingdom. It has about 31 members at the moment with veteran lawyer Fred Ojiambo, being the chairman of the Senior Counsel bar.
The roll was introduced in 2003 and to qualify, one ought to have served as chairman of the LSK. The rules were however changed in October 2008 and lawyers asked to apply to be considered to the prestigious club.
A committee comprising of the Attorney General, a Court of Appeal and High Court judge, three Senior Counsel members and four advocates vet the applicants. After vetting, the committee recommends the names to the President for conferment. The names of Senior Counsel are then published in a gazette notice.
The Senior Counsel members include former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga, Justice (retired) GBM Kariuki, Lee Muthoga, former Attorney-General Githu Muigai, Busia Senator Amos Wako, former Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko, Defence Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo, Nzamba Kitonga, Mr Ahmednasir Abdullahi, Siaya Senator James Orengo, University of Nairobi School of Law Dean Patricia Kameri-Mbote and Mr Pheroze Nowrojee.
Others are Prof Tom Ojienda, Mr Kenneth Akide, Nyamira Senator Okong’o Omogeni, Mr Kenneth Fraser, Mr Paul Muite, Mr Paul Wamae, Mr Gibson Kuria, Mr Samuel Waruhiu, Mr George Oraro, Ms Lucy Kambuni and Omesh Kapila. Former Minister and Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo, Peter le Pelley, Joe Okwach, and Stewart Thomson belonged to the club but have since passed on.
The law says the President may grant a letter of conferment to any person of irreproachable professional conduct who has rendered exemplary service to the legal and public service in Kenya conferring upon him the rank and dignity of Senior Counsel.
To qualify, a person must have been an advocate of the High Court for more than 15 years as well as those who have contributed to the development of the legal profession through scholarly writings and presentations.