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The Works of Deborah Rhode: Legal Ethics & its application in Kenya


On Friday, 5th March 2021 Strathmore Law School, in collaboration with Lexserve Trust, the Platform Magazine, Strathmore Law Clinic, Africa Nazarene University and the University of Nairobi School of Law held a colloquium themed ‘The Works of Deborah Rhode: Legal Ethics & its application in Kenya.’

Deborah L. Rhode, was an Ernest W. McFarland Law Professor at Stanford Law School who was dedicated to the field of Legal Ethics. She is one of the world’s renowned scholars on Legal Ethics. She authored 30 books and over 200 law review articles. She was interested in Legal Ethics and its connection to access to justice, integrity, accountability, and equality. Throughout her works, Deborah emphasized the need for lawyers to live up to the highest moral principles and never hesitated to call them out when they failed to do so.

Her demise prompted a review into her legacy, more particularly a reflection on her prolific works. The colloquium was organised specifically to spur conversation on the application of Legal Ethics in Kenya with lessons being drawn from the works of Deborah. This was done through presentations by keynote speakers and roundtable discussions with panelists from different areas of legal practice.

Jason Solomon, the Executive Director of the Stanford Center on the Legal Profession, spoke on the Legacy of Deborah Rhodes with whom he was closely acquainted. Professor Luis Franceschi addressed self-regulation of the legal profession, which he branded ‘a poacher and ranger’ in the same person.  Professor Kameri Mbote gave a profound exposition on gender equality as an ethical issue. Professor Albert Mumma pointed out the need for ethical conduct going beyond the professional life of a lawyer.

Dr. Peter Kwenjera, Dean of Strathmore Law School, talked of the role of academic institutions in the field of legal ethics. He highlighted the ways through which Strathmore Law School promotes ethical principles among its students. Dr. Duncan Ojwang’ spoke of the importance of having a liberal curriculum that acts as a socializing agent and a conditioning tool to law students. Dr. Elizabeth Muli expounded on the need to restructure certain aspects of legal education and establish a moral compass therein.

Mr. James Nyiha and Karim Anjarwalla spoke on the ethical challenges lawyers in practice face in the course of their professional interaction with government agencies. Ms Christine Agimba, Deputy Solicitor General State Law Office and Department of Justice, was more than delightful to share her personal experiences in the profession so far. Lady Justice Lydia Achode assessed the integrity of Africa’s judiciary while Dr. Mercy Deche dealt with the practicalities of handling complaints by the Judicial Service Commission.


This aricle was written by Arthur Njuguna, Blair Mburu, Nicole Mutung’a and Jewel Ndung’u.


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