Kenyan lawyers told to smarten up
In an opinion article in Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper, James Mwamu -- president of the East Africa Law Society – claims that in many towns lawyers have been seen wearing jeans, t-shirts, sports shoes and sandals.
Although some have argued that dress codes cannot be regulated without violating the law, Mr Mwamu states: ‘It is important to remind them that while the constitution gives citizens the freedom of expression, that freedom does not include walking naked…’ He reminded lawyers that the Law Society of Kenya’s council is empowered to regulate lawyer conduct in the country, which includes issues around court dress.
Wrote Mr Mwamu: ‘To argue that the profession should leave common sense to prevail is to assume that we all know what common sense is, and that common sense is common. That is absurd.’
Although dress codes vary considerably among global jurisdictions – California’s ‘casual Friday’ gets a special mention in Mr Mwamu’s article – he insists the law society is correct to enforce a professional dress code.
‘The rules are taught in the school of law and every lawyer is aware of the manner they are supposed to conduct themselves,’ Mr Mwamu adds. ‘This is not slavery, it is not being old fashioned. It is not archaic and it is not colonial. Lawyers must dress like lawyers.’