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Top Lawyers in Africa: Senior Counsel John Ohaga, C.Arb., FCIArb., FAIADR (Kenya)

John Ohaga SC stands out as the Managing Partner of TripleOKLaw Advocates LLP, one of Kenya’s most enduring and leading law firms for the last 25 years, steering it from a mid-size law firm, to Africa’s Top 50 law firms in 2021 at No. 39 with 36 lawyers, one of the only three non-alliance law firms from Kenya and whole of East Africa to make it to the coveted list celebrating the 50 biggest law firms in Africa.

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TripleOKLaw Advocates LLP Managing Partner Senior Counsel John Morris Ohaga, C.Arb., FCIArb., FAIADR

Senior Counsel John Ohaga, the Managing Partner of TripleOKLaw LLP, is one of Kenya’s most accomplished and awarded lawyers who is highly-regarded as a dispute resolution expert. Admitted to the bar in 1990, John has had an outstanding legal career spanning 31 years that has seen him handle numerous complex and precedent setting litigation matters, preside over high value domestic and international arbitration cases and manage an elite team made up of some of Kenya’s most venerated and all-round dispute resolution practitioners as co-head of the dispute resolution practice at TripleOKLaw. He has also stood out as the leader of one of Kenya’s most enduring and leading law firms for the last 25 years, steering it from mid-size law firm, to Africa’s Top 50 law firms in 2021 at No. 39 with 36 lawyers, one of the only three non-alliance law firms from Kenya and whole of East Africa to make it to the coveted list celebrating the 50 biggest law firms in Africa.

John was conferred the rank and dignity of Senior Counsel, the highest level of professional recognition for lawyers, by the President of the Republic of Kenya in July 2020. He was named Kenya’s Lawyer of the Year in 2020 in the 3rd Edition of Nairobi Legal Awards in December 2020, having been the 1st Runner Up Lawyer of the Year and won the Pupil Master of the Year in 2019 as recognition of his commitment to mentoring young lawyers. In 2021, he was the only Kenyan Finalist for the Partner of the Year Award 2021 at the African Legal Awards in September 2021. He was also featured as one of the Top 50 Arbitrators in Africa by The Legal 500 in Arbitration Powerlist 2021: Africa and Africa Arbitration Academy in 2020. In 2010, 2016,  2017 and 2021, John was the winner of the International Law Office (ILO) Client Choice Awards (Litigation) in Kenya.

As Managing Partner, John has been hailed as a great team leader by both his clients and lawyers and one who has succeeded in building a legal team at TripleOKLaw described by the Legal 500 as “very well organized and clearly synergized.” Through his leadership, the firm enjoys a strong reputation for integrity and providing approachable, responsive, solution oriented, practical and valuable legal services to clients. The Legal 500 quotes a decision maker of one of TripleOKLaw clients who aptly defines John Ohaga as a leader “who delegates and allows his team members to explore and think through and agree on all possible interventions for further discussion. When we have met with him and his team, he has allowed them to fully express themselves and share and propose workable interventions.”

As a legal practitioner and litigator, John is acknowledged as an expert lawyer in several areas of law including administrative law, banking and finance, constitutional law, competition law, employment and labour law, property law, public procurement, and sports law. He advises numerous blue-chip companies listed on the Nairobi Stock Exchange, private companies, and some of Kenya’s largest State Corporations. He has regularly represented clients before all levels of the Kenyan courts for the last 31 years and is ranked in Band 1 by Chambers Global 2021 as one of the Top 10 Outstanding lawyers in dispute resolution in Kenya and one who “displays an astute understanding of dispute resolution processes.”

As a Chartered Arbitrator, John is one Kenya’s elite Arbitrators and sits on the CIArb Presidential Panel of Arbitrators and is described by The Legal 500 as “a genuine leader in arbitration.” He has represented parties as counsel in several arbitration proceedings and acted in numerous disputes as either Party Appointed Arbitrator, Sole Arbitrator or Presiding Arbitrator. Due to his passion for arbitration, John was appointed Chairperson of the National Steering Committee for formulation of the ADR Policy by the Attorney General of Kenya, the team of leading ADR practitioner and experts reviewing ADR policy in Kenya. He is a member of the Judiciary’s Mediation Accreditation Committee and Chair of its Accreditation Committee as well as a member of the Judiciary Taskforce on the Implementation of the Court-Annexed Mediation Programme. He has also been  the Convener of the Law Society of Kenya’s Committee on Alternative Dispute Resolution for the last 5 years.

Senior Counsel John Ohaga has written extensively and presented numerous papers on dispute resolution especially Domestic and International Commercial Arbitration. He presented a paper on Commercial Practice and Developments in East Africa at the International Council for Commercial Arbitration (ICCA) 2016 in Mauritius among others. His legal alerts and insights have been published in leading legal portals including the Lexology, Mondaq and The Law Reviews (Sports Law Review). He is the co-author of the Kenyan Chapters on International Arbitration Laws and Regulations (2021) and Gambling Laws and Regulations (2021) of the International Comparative Legal Guides (ICLG). He also co-authored the Litigation Trends and Developments 2021, a Chambers & Partners Practice Guide, on Litigation in Kenya.

John is a board member of the Nairobi Centre for International Arbitration (NCIA) where he chairs the Legislative Framework, Rules and Accreditation Committee and was programme director of the very first Nairobi Centre for International Arbitration Conference.  He is Chairman of the Sports Disputes Tribunal, Chair of the Appeals Committee of the Advertising Standards Board, Member of Board of Trustees of the Mpesa Foundation and Trustee of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (Kenya Branch). He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and Asian Institute of Alternative Dispute Resolution and Member of Law Society of Kenya, East African Law Society (which recently appointed him to lead its Arbitration Committee), International Bar Association, Commonwealth Lawyers Association, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, International Council for Commercial Arbitration and International Association of Managing Partners.

He graduated from University of Nairobi with LL.B Degree in 1989, a Post Graduate Diploma in Law from Kenya School of Law in 1990 and a Diploma in International Arbitration from Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb) in 2018. He qualified as Member of the CIArb (MCIArb) in 2007, was admitted as Fellow of CIArb (FCIArb) in 2012, installed as a Chartered Arbitrator (C.Arb) in 2018 and Accredited as a CIArb Mediator same year. He has completed an Advanced Arbitration Course, CIArb Course on Construction Claims and Fast-track to Fellowship Assessment. He holds a Certificate in Sports Arbitration from Kuala Lumpur Centre for International Arbitration (2017) and a Certificate in Negotiation and Leadership from Harvard Law School (2019). He is presently pursuing an LLM in International Dispute Resolution from Queen Mary, University of London.

John did his pupilage at Hamilton Harrison & Mathews Advocates (Dentons HHM today) and worked at the firm as Legal Assistant after admission for 3 years from 1990 to 1993. From 1993, he was an associate at R.A. Kassam & Company Advocates where he left to co-found the firm of Onyango, Ohaga & Company Advocates with Tom Onyango in 1996 as the Managing Partner. In 2002, after the firm merged with two others, he became the Managing Partner of Ochieng, Onyango, Kibet & Ohaga Advocates. In 2013, when the firm expanded and renamed TripleOKLaw Advocates, LLP, the partners retained him as Managing Partner to this day. Besides legal practice, John is an elite Sportsman and Former Rugby International Player for Kenya from 1987 to 1995 and a member of Mean Machine Rugby Team that won Kenya Cup in 1989 and 1990.

Lawyers

Eric Kivuva: Reset and Calibrate for a Nairobi LSK Branch that Delights Members

“My vision is for a Nairobi Branch that delights members because things work as they should to improve practice, welfare, and mentorship,” Eric Kivuva.

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Eric Kivuva, Senior Partner at McKay Advocates and Nairobi LSK Branch Chair Candidate

By Eric Kivuva, Nairobi LSK Branch Chair Candidate 2024-2026

Nairobi Branch has had stability over the last few years but we seem to have stagnated on protecting and advocating for improvements in the practice environment and have become superficial about the real welfare issues of members. The time is nigh for us to reset our leadership and the branch. It is time to replace stagnation in practice with progress; Public relations in member care with results-oriented action; silence with empathy, disconnection with engagement. It is time for a reset and calibration of the branch for positive, progressive impact on our practice and welfare.

My Promise: To make Nairobi branch a truly world class branch when it comes to championing a better practice environment and more opportunities for members.

My Agenda: Our practice environment is not conducive for many advocates because of the bottlenecks that exist. We must prioritize practice matters if each one of us is to have a thriving practice so that you can not only meet your needs but also have a little more to create positive impact in the society.

My Reset and Calibrate Agenda

Agenda 1: Protect and Progress Practice Areas

  • Diligently follow through with implementation of CUCs and Bar-Bench Committee recommended actions.
  • Be proactive in monitoring changes in the legal sector and take measures to ensure advocates are not negatively affected by those changes.
  • Eliminate bottlenecks in practice areas specifically by championing efficiency at all registries i.e. Land Registries, Court Registries, Company Registries and KIPI.
  • Support the fight against corruption in the judiciary and the elimination of facilitation fees.

Agenda 2: Adoption of Emerging Practice Areas

  • Establish the emerging practice areas committee
  • Encourage greater collaboration with inhouse counsel to widen the practice space
  • Develop a simple guide to practice management

Agenda 3: Mentorship and Unity of the bar

  • Institute a practice mentorship program within the branch to equip members with skills and tools to help them build thriving practices.
  • Expand branch social activities and increase the frequency of the events to involve as many members as possible.

My Track Record

I have made significant contributions to the Nairobi branch without holding an elected position.

  1. I have been a staunch supporter of the Nairobi Branch, contributing through member donations and sponsoring numerous branch events.
  2. ⁠I played a pivotal role in establishing one of our most beloved traditions, the Nairobi Branch Quiz Night, alongside our esteemed first chair, Charles Kanjama, to foster camaraderie among members.
  3. ⁠I offered leadership during the organization of the first-ever LSK elections debate, where I not only facilitated as the MC but also ensured the event’s seamless execution.
  4. ⁠I contributed to the conceptualization of the Nairobi Legal Awards in 2021 organized by the Nairobi Branch and the inaugural Nrb Branch Christmas carols event.
  5. ⁠I consistently support the Nairobi branch financially and has served as a speaker at multiple branch events, most recently at a cocktail organized by the branch in August 2023.
  6. ⁠In recognition of my unwavering dedication, I was honored with the Committed Service Award in 2022, bestowed upon individuals who demonstrate exceptional commitment to branch activities.

There is no question that Nairobi LSK Branch holds a special place in my heart and that makes me the ideal candidate to lead the LSK Nairobi branch to new heights in the next two years.

My Vision for Nairobi Branch

My vision is for a Nairobi Branch that delights members because things work as they should to improve practice, welfare, and mentorship.

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Irene Kiwool: My Track Record and Call to PACT for Better Nairobi LSK

Irene Kiwool is calling for a PACT towards a Progressive and an All-Inclusive LSK Nairobi Branch Bar.

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Irene Kiwool is running for LSK Nairobi Council Member 2024-2026 on PACK Agenda.

DownloadIrene Kiwool’s Manifesto for Nairobi LSK Council Member 2024-2026(PDF)

WHO IS IRENE KIWOOL?

I am an advocate with 14 years post admission experience and a partner at Muchemi & Co. Advocates. For the past 6 years, my unwavering dedication and commitment to the bar has been evident through active participation on several Nairobi Branch Committees. This engagement has not only sharpened my legal acumen but has also allowed me to make meaningful contributions and impact to our legal community. I believe it is this commitment and dedication to our legal practice that led to my nomination as the Commercial and Conveyancing Practitioner of the Year in 2022 and listed among the Top 100 Real Estate and Finance Lawyers in Kenya in 2023.

WHAT IS MY TRACK RECORD?

Dedicated Leadership and Service

I have served diligently on the following committees:

  • Lands Liaison Committee
  • Commercial Practice Committee
  • ICT and IP (KIPI) Liaison Committee
  • Judicial Review Bar -Bench Committee
  • Devolution and Law Reform Committee
  • Ardhisasa Technical committee

Legal Practice Protection and Reform

I have played a pivotal role in safeguarding the legal practice and spearheading key reforms that support our profession and protecting our bread and butter.  Notable contributions include:

  • The gazettement of the Regulations on Electronic Conveyancing (The Land Registration (Electronic Transactions) Regulations, 2020),
  • The gazettement of The Regulations on Extension and Renewal of Leases (Land Extension and Renewal of Leases) Rules, 20l7.)
  • Development of a comprehensive Conversion Manual, which guides practitioners on the process to convert Land Titles and Deeds issued under the repealed land laws.
  • The manual is available on the Ministry of Lands Website.

Proactive Advocacy for Efficient Systems

I have been at the forefront lobbying and driving for improvements on the Ardhisasa System, to enhance its user-friendliness, responsiveness, efficiency and effectiveness. Through my proactive engagements, we have achieved significant upgrades, unlocked key registrations at the Nairobi Registration Unit and facilitated the development and dissemination of training materials on the use of the Ardhisasa system.

NOTABLE UPGRADES:

  • Filing of Consolidated applications
  • Introduction of a Progress Status bar to track registration status
  • Reduced timelines for the registration of Foreign Accounts
  • Enhanced system functionalities including editing applications
  • Comprehensive upload capabilities for chargee’s covenants, previously limited to 500 words activation of several registration forms conducting
  • Searches without proprietor’s consent through an Advocate account for unconverted or unenumerated properties cleared by Ministry of Lands

UNLOCKED REGISTRATIONS 

  • Long -term leases through the Memorandum of Understanding between Ministry of Lands and LSK
  • Where modules are inactive registration is manual by seeking exemption from the Registrar
  • Manual registration for inactive modules by requesting for an exemption to register through the Chief Land Registrar
  • Transfers by Chargee
  • Deed of Variations of Charges
  • Replacement of lost Titles and reconstruction of the register.

WHY THE PACT AGENDA?

I am committed to honoring the PACT (Protect, Account, Champion and Track), by continuing to serve members, this time as a council member. With your vote, together, we can bring inclusivity, integrity, innovation and impactful change to our resident bar.

PROTECT  

  • Protect members bread and butter by prioritizing practice issues and defend against challenges from whatever source. Develop a proactive stance to anticipate and mitigate risks before they impact our members.
  • Lobby for the establishment of a Practice Forward Committee aimed at monitoring emerging challenges in the legal practice, focusing on the welfare of Advocates, the emerging areas of legal practice and recommending implementable solutions. This initiative would ensure that Advocates are well supported and equipped to navigate the evolving complexities of the legal field.
  • Lobby for creation of an online Nairobi Branch Members Directory that is publicly accessible, allowing Members of the public to easily locate and engage legal counsel thereby increasing visibility and accessibility for our members.
  • Lobby and develop a tracking mechanism to weed out masqueraders and unqualified persons through a justice multi- stakeholder approach

ACCOUNT

  • Advocate for Accountability and Transparency of Branch operations and financial affairs.
  • Lobby for the adoption and implementation of a stakeholder and institutional accountability tool to monitor and enhance service delivery across key partner institutions (the courts; the Land Registration Units, BRS, Ecitizen, KRA, Registrar of persons, Tribunals among other’s). This tool will aim to ensure transparency, responsiveness and efficiency, proactively addressing challenges and optimizing resource utilization Advocate for prudent utilization of Branch funds to maximize the benefits to our members.

CHAMPION

  • Champion and spearhead legal reforms that reflect current needs and future challenges with the aim to strengthen and grow members’ practice.
  • Champion for strategic networking engagements, collaboration and knowledge exchange.
  • Establish dynamic forums and platforms for members to leverage expertise and access valuable resources thus contributing to members individual growth, overall development and innovation within the legal practice.
  • Champion and spearhead the drafting and publication of a comprehensive manual that provides guidance on electronic conveyancing aiming to streamline and enhance conveyancing practice.

TRACK

  • Establish a tracking system to regularly assess the welfare support mechanisms in place, ensuring they effectively contribute to the progression and growth of members.
  • Track the effectiveness of the mentorship program and develop strategic policies to expand the pool of mentors and enhance the quality of mentorship.
  • Lobby for the establishment and implementation of a performance metric’s system to evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of branch committees. This metrics will be reviewed periodically to foster continuous improvement.

CURRENT ROLES THAT ALIGN WITH THE PACT AGENDA

  1. Member of the Co -ordinating Committee that is tasked with the mandate to co-ordinate the review of the National Land Policy.
  2. Member of the Nairobi Lands Justice Working Group whose mandate is to identify the root causes and address systemic and endemic challenges in the administration of land justice in Nairobi County.
  3. Member at the Lands and Housing Sector Board Committee at KEPSA and public Policy and Advocacy Committee at KPDA.
  4. Member of the Kenya School of Law Mentorship programme.

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Njoki Mboce: I am Members Project for LSK President

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By Njoki Mboce for LSK President 2024-2026 Team

Today, LSK faces an existential threat from those who seek to compromise its mandate by aligning with the regime in ongoing attempts to undermine the place of the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) and erode the Rule of Law. This has the potential to regress the country to a state of impunity and dictatorship reminiscent of the past.

In such turbulent times, the LSK requires a leader who is resolute, decisive, and impartial. Harriet Njoki Mboce is this suitable leader, with a firm reputation, who will speak Truth to power in the face of encroaching dictatorship.

The actions of a candidate are a mirror of who they are, and what they will be in office. If a candidate wants the office at all costs, and abuses members’ trust to get there, they will have no integrity while in office. Harriet Njoki Mboce is unequivocally the LSK Members’ project. Boldly and firmly acting to defend Independence of the BAR, institutions, and the Rule of Law, she has maintained this commitment throughout her campaigns for President of LSK. This offers a strong basis to fearlessly champion members’ interests and protect the BAR from capture by the State and unscrupulous cartels.

Growing up, I dreamt of being a Navy Officer. I never in my wildest dreams imagined that I would one day be seeking the Presidency of an organisation previously led by impeccable names such as SC Gibson Kamau Kuria, SC Pheroze Nowrojee, SC Paul Muite, SC Hon Dr. Willy Mutunga (CJ Emeritus) and SC Raychelle Omamo, among others. It has taken resilience and a high dose of firm, and bold commitment to get here.

LSK requires a leader to withstand the pressure within and without, and to take the heat on behalf of the membership, whenever the Country and the Society’s living tenets come under threat. This resilience as a quality in the President of LSK enables me in a big way to see the wider horizon of the environment we operate in, to prepare for the storms and to boldly and firmly focus and act on our bigger mandate.

Come elections day, 29th February, 2024, I invite members to ask themselves: Which candidate shows real signs that they will not be corrupted, will run an accountable organisation and will sustain the moral and probity to place the LSK on a path of Independence? I humbly seek your vote to bring this desire home. Please vote for the Member’s project, Harriet Njoki Mboce, HSC for President of The Law Society of Kenya (2024-2026)

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