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The Top Lawyer Podcast, Episode 1: S. Okalle Makanda, MNO Advocates LLP



S. Okalle Makanda is an Advocate of the High Court of 15 Years standing and the Managing Partner of MNO Advocates LLP, one of Kenya’s leading commercial and corporate law boutique firms. With variegated legal practice experience starting as an Associate at the one of Kenya’s Largest and  Most Prestigious law firms to serving inhouse as Head of Legal at a Top Tier Bank and launching MNO Advocates LLP eight (8) years ago, Mr. Makanda has advised numerous clients in complex and critical matters in diverse areas of commercial and corporate law including Environmental Social and Governance (ESG), Banking and Finance, Employment Law, Aviation Law, Dispute Resolution, Immigration Law, Intellectual Property, Data Protection and Cybersecurity and Technology Law.

Mr. Makanda is a firm believer in providing legal solutions that are relevant and viable in advancing the commercial objectives of the business enterprises of his clients. His main strength is in crafting simple legal solutions that enable businesses overcome complex legal problems. He has a reputation for applying deftly clear understanding of business to legal interpretation to enable businesses make sound decisions while realizing their core mandates, profitability. He is also a sought after and celebrated as an adept Employment lawyer, a personal and transgenerational estate planning specialist and trial advocate.

Mr. Makanda also does a lot of work in the creative space in an effort to support the creative industry in Kenya including offering pro-bono legal advice to those in the industry. He is an avid connoisseur of fine art and the MNO Chambers is decorated with beautiful art pieces which he displays on behalf of the artists he works with for sale. He is a family and when he is not busy being a commercial lawyer, you will probably find him enjoying some K-pop music with his kids or just listening to his favourite musician, Oliver Mtukudzi, to unwind.

In this first episode of THE TOP LAWYER Podcast which highlights the leading lawyers in Kenya, Mr. Makanda takes us through his career journey as an Advocate and how he and his fellow partners at MNO Advocates LP have steered the firm from its inception through the turbulent pandemic to becoming becoming a leading commercial law firms with two branches in Kenya. He also gives a guided tour of MNO as a law firm and the dynamics of the team that make up MNO and offers tips on what it takes to make it as a top law and as law firm leader in Kenya.

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Litigation Hall of Fame Lawyer: Dr. Jotham Okome Arwa, PhD

Arwa is more than just a leading lawyer: He is a law intellectual, law consultant, law author, law manager, law interpreter and law practitioner.




Jotham Okome Arwa, Managing Partner Rachier & Amollo Advocates LLP and Senior Lecturer, JKUAT School of Law

Jotham Okome Arwa stands out as the only Managing Partner of a Kenyan Top-tier Law Firm who also doubles as a leading law intellectual. He is roundly revered in the legal circles as one of the most brilliant and leading legal minds in country and as an advocate who has contributed immensely in shaping jurisprudence and practice of law in Kenya both as a practitioner and law lecturer. Gifted with a sharp, analytical mind, Arwa is a formidable lawyer and an inspiring example for many budding advocates.

Jotham Okome Arwa is the Managing Partner and Head of Legal Consultancy and Commercial Law Department at Rachier & Amollo Advocates LLP, admittedly one of Kenya’s most respected and outstanding litigation law firms in Kenya specializing in corporate law, commercial law, litigation construction law, property law, conveyancing, labour law and aviation law, among others. The firm is home to some of the most sought after legal heavyweights in Kenya including Ambrose D.O. Rachier, Hon Otiende Amollo, SC, Francis Olalo, Stephen Ligunya, Alvin Rachier and Arwa himself, among others.

Jotham Arwa leads a legal team of over 20 lawyers at Rachier & Amollo Advocates which includes 6 partners, over 10 associates and a handful of legal consultants, pupils and paralegals. He has 23 years’ post-admission legal experience and over the years has successfully handled complex and high value legal matters and transactions on behalf of diverse corporate and private clients. He has special interest in corporate commercial law, banking, finance and securities law, taxation and public finance management law and constitutional and human rights law.

Senior Law Lecturer and Seasoned Legal Consultant

Jotham Okome Arwa is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Law, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. He has also taught law at various universities and institutions in Kenya including University of Nairobi (Medical Law), Kenya School of Monetary Studies (Finance and Banking Law) and Kenya School of Law. He has also undertaken human rights training for senior managers of the Prison Department and Kenya National Commission on Human Rights on the reporting mechanisms under the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.

In addition to legal practice and teaching law, Arwa is a well-respected and seasoned legal consultant and has handled numerous complex legal consultancy assignments in various aspects of law and gained wealth of experience legal and regulatory frameworks and legislative drafting. Indeed, as head of Legal Consultancy at Rachier & Amollo Advocates, Arwa and his team have handled many legal reform assignments which have left indelible mark in the legal and economic landscape in Kenya, East Africa and beyond.

In the area of financial and securities law, Arwa has consulted for the Capital Markets Authority in a consultancy involving the evaluation of the Capital Markets Legal Regime in Kenya and making recommendations on the Emerging Trends in Financial Services Law and their implications on the future capital markets in Kenya. Arwa also led the legal consultancy team retained to advise on the privatization of Kenya Re-Insurance Corporation culminating in the Initial Public Offer (IPO) of Kenya Re.

In insurance law, Arwa led Rachier & Amollo team in undertaking a legal consultancy for the Government of Kenya to review the legal and regulatory framework governing the Insurance Industry with a view to modernizing all insurance related statutes and aligning the same with the international best practices. He also reviewed the legislative and procedural framework for the establishment and proper functioning of insurance policyholder compensation fund. The eventual output was a Draft Insurance (Amendment) Bill which was enacted into law.

In the medical and human rights sphere, Arwa consulted for the Embassy of Belgium in evaluating the current observance status of the ethical as well as the medico-legal issues relating to HIV/AIDS in Kenya and make recommendations for improvement of legal framework for the fight against HIV/AIDS in Kenya. He also consulted for Federation of Kenya Employers on the development of appropriate guidelines in the area of Human Rights in the workplace and guidelines for use by employers in treatment of persons infected with or affected by HIV/AIDS in the workplace.

Tribunal Chair, Director, Author and Scholar

Due to his standing as a legal authority in legal education, human rights and medical ethics and commercial law, Arwa has served as Director in various institutions including: The Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association, Kenya Legal and Ethical Issues Network (KELIN) and the Legal Education Forum. Previously, he served as a Member of the National Steering Committee on Fast-tracking HIV Response among Adolescents and Youth appointed by the Cabinet Secretary for Health and as the Chairman of the HIV and Aids Tribunal of Kenya.

Arwa’s teaching and consultancy assignments have given him an edge in legal practice especially in medical-legal area and in handling finance and banking transactions and deals. He has also written several books and manuals in these area which serve as guides for other legal practitioners. These include HIV/Aids and Law, Human Rights in the Workplace (Training Manual authored for Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) and Human Rights and HIV/AIDS (Training Manual for University of Nairobi, Faculty of Medicine).

Arwa has also authored numerous papers and articles on law and practice in the areas of Financial Services Law, Digital Banking, Banking Law, Access to Justice, Corporate Law, Bankruptcy and Insolvency Law and Employment law. His articles have been submitted for publication in peer-reviewed law journals including Harvard Law Journal, University of Nairobi Law Journal, Law Democracy and Development (LLD) Journal of University of Western Cape, JKUAT Law Journal, Lex Mundi World Reports and Commonwealth Legal Education Journal. Arwa has also presented papers in numerous Conferences and forums.

Arwa holds a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) Degree and Masters of Laws (LLM) Degree from University of Nairobi and a post graduate diploma in law from Kenya School of Law and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) Degree in Law. These qualifications have enabled Arwa to maintain a global perspective tempered with local understandings in solving the multifaceted legal problems of his clients who include individuals, government agencies, multinational corporations, Non-governmental organizations, local and foreign Governments.

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Top Litigation Lawyer: Wilfred Nyamu Mati

Nyamu has become the go-to lawyer for high profile clients with cases that require a sharp legal mind and savvy advocacy.




Wilfred Nyamu Mati Advocate, Founder and Managing Partner of Nyamu & Nyamu Advocates

A popular joke has it that Wilfred Nyamu Mati is one of the handful of civilians who have addressed the Senate of Kenya more times and longer than even some of the current Senators. It owes to the fact that Nyamu was the pioneer Advocate to enter appearance for a Governor facing impeachment at the Senate when he represented Embu Governor Martin Wambora. Indeed, while it is almost a proverb that Governor Wambora has nine lives and a rate knack for survival as a politician, truth is that his secret weapon is the unwavering tenacity and unrelenting legal representation of Nyamu as his lead Lawyer.

Over time, Nyamu has become the go-to lawyer for dozens of Governors, County Governments and high profile individuals facing existential legal threats that require a sharp legal mind to make their case and turn around their fortunes. The flamboyant Governor of Nairobi City Mike Sonko brought Lawyer Nyamu in the last minute to lead his legal team in handling the Impeachment Proceedings and the subsequent court petitions that seeking to overturn the Senate Decision to impeach him. Sonko has also retained Nyamu to help in his defense against the corruption, economic crimes and terrorism charges facing him.

In the last 10 years, Wilfred Nyamu has established himself as a vanguard in constitutional litigation with a strong bias for devolution law and electoral disputes. Nyamu has acted for senior clients and county governments in numerous and complex constitutional petitions and references in all levels of courts in Kenya including the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Kenya. Nyamu is one of the few lawyers who can take pride in having built an enviable litigation practice from scratch to the level of representing high status individuals purely based on referrals based on his good work and excellent advocacy skills.

As proof of Nyamu’s increasing popularity as the lawyer of choice for many VIPs in Kenya, he was instructed to mount defense in 11 election petitions (all by elected leaders) in 2017. To his credit, he won 9 of them in the first instance at High Court and then appealed and won the rest either at Court of Appeal or upon appeal at the Supreme Court. Nyamu is preferred by many of his clients because of his fighting spirit, the honesty to give them impassioned legal opinions about their chances of success in the case at hand and the ability to craft a winning strategy even where other lawyers see no way to a win.

Several cases that Lawyer Nyamu has handled on behalf of Governors stand out. One of the most outstanding was the twin impeachment motions against Governor Martin Wambora in February and May 2014 where in the second instance Nyamu famously walked out of the Senate Committee established to investigate the motion after accusing the team of prejudice against his client since the same Committee had recommended his ouster in the earlier impeachment in February 2014.

“My client, the Honourable Governor, does not expect to get a fair hearing before this Committee and that is why he cannot submit himself any further before this Committee. We are going to address ourselves in Court not before this Committee. I am instructed not to proceed beyond here.” Wilfred Nyamu Mati, Advocate before walking out on Wambora Impeachment Senate Committee.


Nyamu had earlier managed to convince the High Court to stay the impeachment of Governor Wambora by the Senate in February 2014. However, even as the County Assembly of Embu proceeded to appeal the High Court decision at Court of Appeal, they lodged a new impeachment motion against Wambora in May 2014 which sailed through the Assembly and was before the Senate Committee, hence Nyamu’s walkout.

What followed the walkout was a very complex and passionate court battle waged by Lawyer Nyamu on behalf of Governor Wambora that truly defined the jurisprudence of impeachment of County Governors in Kenya and made both their names name synonymous with it. On 1st October 2014, Nyamu won the appeal in favour of the Embattled Embu Governor with the Court of Appeal upholding the earlier High Court ruling which reinstated him to office.

But as his client resumed office, Nyamu resumed his battle before a three High Court Judge Bench in the case challenging the second impeachment which Senate had imposed despite his walkout from the Committee. On 13th February, 2015, the High Court proceeded to uphold the impeachment as per the resolution of the Embu County Assembly dated 29th April 2014 and a resolution of the senate special committee endorsing the same.

However, Nyamu saved the day by quickly rising to his feet to convince the judges to grant 14 days stay of the judgement pending appeal ensuring his client stayed in office while he fought in court. In the meantime, Nyamu rushed to Court of Appeal where he secured a conservatory order staying the High Court decision for his client to continue to exercise his powers as Governor of Embu County pending the hearing of the Appeal. In the aftermath, Nyamu constituted a team of 7 lawyers including two Senior Counsel to help him argue his client’s case before the Court of Appeal culminating in the nullification of Wambora’s impeachment in December 2015 with the Appeal Court ruling that there was no clear evidence that he acted in gross violation of the Constitution, warranting his impeachment.

After the High Court nullified the impeachment of Wambora, Nyamu had cited the Embu Speaker among others for disregarding the orders. The Speaker contested the contempt orders in Court of Appeal which upheld them prompting an appeal in the Supreme Court which after two long years of legal battle overturned the orders in December 2017. But Nyamu had long made his point by compelling the County Assembly to respect High Court and Court of Appeal decisions overturning the impeachment of his client which remained in force for the remainder of his first term.

Nyamu is also well-known for his handling of the Governor Alfred Mutua Election Petition in 2017. By all standards, that was one of the most bitterly fought election petitions of 2017 stretching for more than 1 year from the High Court, through Court of Appeal, all the way to Supreme Court. for justice to be done for his client. After the High court upheld the Election of Governor Alfred Mutua, his opponent successfully contested the decision in the court of Appeal and everyone thought all was lost. However, Nyamu appealed to the Supreme Court arguing that Court of appeal erred in “admitting the Appeal for hearing based on the need for substantive justice under Article 159(2) of the Constitution and proceeding to nullify the election based on technicalities.” Supreme Court agreed with Nyamu finding that procedural technicalities in the elections did not warrant the nullification.

History appears to be repeating itself in the case of Governor Sonko where Nyamu is waging war on multiple front to get his client back to office. After the Senate impeached Sonko even as they acknowledged that Nyamu and his fellow lawyers had succeeded in showing the grounds levelled against Sonko did not hold water, he lodged a constitutional petition pending in the High Court to challenge the decision. In between the main petition, Nyamu has fought many applications and related cases and as usual appears ready to fight for his client all the way to Supreme Court if that is what it takes.

Nyamu has proven to be always ready to fight until justice is done for every of his client. He did it for Governor Kivutha when he was impeached by Makueni despite Nyamu’s best efforts fighting his way to High Court where he succeeded to bar the Senate from discussing his client’s impeachment. In all these cases and more, Nyamu has earned his reputation as the constitutional lawyer who never stops fighting until his clients win, whatever it takes! Nyamu also has avid political interest and is the National Secretary General of Maendeleo Chap Chap Party of Kenya.

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Hall of Fame Litigation Lawyer: Hon. Prof. Tom Ojienda, SC, MP

Prof. Tom Ojienda and Associates Advocates is the best living proofs that Prof. Ojienda SC is not just a great lawyer, he is a transformative leader with undeniable Midas touch. Prof. Ojienda SC has led the firm from scratch to its current stature as one of Kenya’s top-tier law firms.




The Founder and Managing Partner of Prof. Tom Ojienda, SC and one of Kenya's Giants of Law, Legal Practice and Legal Academia

Prof. Tom Odhiambo Ojienda SC is an advocate of the rank of Senior Counsel who has a knack for transforming the landscape of every aspect of legal practice he ventures into. He has made game-changing contributions, from legal academia to professional associations’ leadership, litigation to legal consultancy and advocacy, legal research authorship to being an elected and celebrated representative of his peers at the Judicial Service commission and to politics of devolution as elected Senator. These remarkable traits have rubbed very well on the eponymous firm Prof. Ojienda SC founded 30 years ago, Prof. Tom Ojienda and Associates Advocates, as it lives its mantra of staying ahead of the game.

Before Prof. Ojienda SC did it, many assumed it was impossible for one to be a leading lawyer running a top-notch legal practice, an active law academic and professor and top professional association representative, all at the same time. Those who excelled in legal academia were happy to settle for just that while those who were heading top-tier law firms and practicing at the top of specialist legal areas eschewed any attempt to offer professional associations elective leadership.  Prof. Ojienda, SC is the first Kenyan lawyer to achieve the status of a successful legal practitioner, a legal academic acknowledged as an authority, a prolific legal author and a beloved elected representative of your peers, all rolled into one.

Prof. Tom Ojienda and Associates Advocates is the best living proofs that Prof. Ojienda SC is not just a great lawyer, he is a transformative leader with undeniable Midas touch. Prof. Ojienda SC has led the firm from scratch to its current stature as one of Kenya’s top-tier law firms. While at it, he has also built a dedicated team of advocates recognized for offering exceptional legal services to businesses, corporate entities, banks, insurance and financial institutions, government and private clients. In turn, the firm has immensely contributed in shaping the legal landscape by representing its clients in local, regional and international courts and tribunals and providing world-class specialized legal services and meeting its clients’ needs with unmatched client care and professionalism.

The firm has four core departments; Litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution Department, Corporate and Commercial Department, Real Estate Transactions Department, and Legal and Consultancy Department. Over the years, the Litigation Department of Prof. Tom Ojienda & Associates has earned the firm recognition from peers and clients alike, by successfully handling landmark cases in the Superior Courts of Kenya that are widely reported and quoted as precedents in criminal law, electoral law, dispute resolution, land law, family law, commercial law and other areas of Law. The firm has acted for diverse client’s including individuals, State agencies, private entities, county governments and multinational agencies in Subordinate Courts, the High Court of Kenya, the Court of Appeal of Kenya, the Supreme Court of Kenya, the East African Court of Justice and the COMESA Court of Justice.

The reported cases handled by Prof. Tom Ojienda & Associates include Speaker of the Senate & another v Attorney-General & 4 others [2013] eKLR; Gitarau Peter Munya v Dickson Mwenda Kithinji & 3 Others [2014] eKLR; Evans Odhiambo Kidero & 4 others v Ferdinand Ndung’u Waititu & 4 others [2014] eKLR; Lemanken Aramat v Harun Meitamei Lempaka & 2 others [2014] eKLR; In the Matter of the National Land Commission [2015] eKLR; Justus Kariuki Mate & another v Martin Nyaga Wambora & another [2017] eKLR; Moi v Rosanna Pluda [2017] eKLR; Narok County Government v Livingstone Kunini Ntutu & 2 others [2018] eKLR, and Cyprian Awiti & another v Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission & 2 others [2019] eKLR, among many others.

Some of the high monetary value cases the firm has handled include acting for Numerical Machining Complex in a land proprietorship dispute for land worth KES 8 Billion, acting for Kwale Sugar in Court after a governmental multiagency team wrongfully closed down its sugar factory worth KES 4B, acting for Public Service Commission (PSC) in a case questioning its payments of MPs’ housing benefit totaling KES 1.2B annually, representing Landmark Freight Services Limited in challenging a government parastatal’s decision to destroy its imported goods worth KES 600M, representing King Woollen Mills Limited and Galot Industries Limited in a Supreme Court matter involving approximately KES 251M and successfully representing one Mr. Baumgartner in a suit challenging his title to properties worth KES 100M.

Prof. Tom Ojienda & Associates Corporate and Commercial Department has significant experience in handling business transactions, partnerships and projects, bank securities and finance, capital markets, intellectual property law (including copyrights, trademarks, patents and industrial designs), private equity, projects and infrastructure, corporate restructuring and trusts and estates. The firm also consults and advises on a wide array of corporate legal processes, including mergers and acquisitions, regulatory and compliance issues, legal and corporate governance audits and commercial transactions, business startups and entrepreneurial strategy.

Prof. Ojienda SC having, to his credit, literally written the leading textbooks on Land Law and Conveyancing in Kenya including Land Law and Conveyancing: Principles and Practice (LawAfrica, 2015), his firm’s Real Estate Transactions Department attains to the high expectations of clients that come with his status. The Department is composed of advocates adept in research, negotiation and analytical skills who have assisted many clients with negotiating the terms and conditions of real estate transactions, prepared and reviewed all kind of real estate documents and facilitated transfers, conveyances, leases, mortgages, change of user and sub-divisions of numerous personal and commercial properties.

The Legal Advisory and Consultancy Department of Prof. Tom Ojienda & Associates Advocates is one of the beneficiaries of Prof. Ojienda’s prowess as a law academic and scholar. The Department specializes in consulting, legal and legislative drafting, compiling reports, making presentations and providing professional legal advice and legal opinions to a diverse set of clients that includes Government institutions, civil society, corporate bodies and individual clients. The Department has a dedicated Legal Research and Policy Team comprised of legal researchers and the Head of Legal Research and Policy.

Prof. Ojienda, SC remains the overall Managing Partner of Prof. Tom Ojienda & Associates and is assisted by four (4) Partners overseeing each one of the four core departments of the firm and a sizeable team of qualified associates. Prof. Ojienda SC is one of a handful of Kenyan lawyers who have attained the status of Senior Counsel as well as Professorship of Law by merit. He has authored 15 law books and over 40 peer-reviewed law articles and books chapters. Prof. Ojienda SC has served as President of Law Society of Kenya (LSK) and East Africa Law Society (ELS), Vice President and Financial Secretary of the Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU), Council Member of the International Bar Association (IBA) and as a Commissioner in both the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC).  Prof. Ojienda, SC is one of the most influential lawyers in Kenya and his firm is sought after by many clients for help in staying ahead of their game.

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