KAMPALA-For better or worse, general election debates have become a gateway to the articulation of opinions, information seeking and a source of political learning to increase political engagement, especially among society members.
On September 2, 2022, the six candidates for the Uganda Law Society (ULS) presidency participated in a debate, the third of its kind in the society’s 64-year history. The debate organised by the society’s election committee was held at Mestil Hotel, moderated by James Orimi.
Among the seven candidates running in the race to become president of the Uganda Law Society is Olivia Kyarimpa Matovu, who has served the society without an office in several capacities, including chairing the ULS conference 2022, with a proven track record of service to the society.
Like several other societies around the world, ULS is facing several challenges like the undeniable disengagement of its members, the pending ULS house project, the high cost of CLEs as well as an inconsiderate membership subscription fee to the society for young lawyers
“As lawyers, we join the Uganda Law Society because it’s required of us to do so. The society doesn’t come through in our time of need, and we see not much value in belonging to the society. We need initiatives that rekindle the sense of belonging,” a member commented via zoom
In articulating her manifesto, Kyarimpa proposed an introduction of a committee to establish the diverse needs of the society members and address them. She also expressed her desire to reignite the calling of lawyers believing that the purpose of lawyers should mean something to themselves, the society and the nation.
At the debate, the issue of member engagement, the Rule of Law and the fate of young lawyers that all candidates addressed and shared possible solutions in their manifestos
“The society is blessed with law firms that it can work with to help young lawyers in skill development programs; when it comes to mentoring these young lawyers, there is a need to look out for the different strengths and skills they have and empower them.” Kyarimpa urged.
She also pledged to pursue opportunities to take young lawyers abroad to empower and help them acquire world-class skills in litigation and other aspects of the law.
On the issue of member welfare, Kyarimpa amplified the need to have a multi-disciplinary approach to foster a network of lawyers with other industries and professional bodies which she urged will help them develop in many ways.
“Let us stand for innovation, as professionals in the legal professions, we should be multi-disciplinary looking beyond law. Let’s be innovative, let’s think outside the legal box, lets engage in the different sectors and add value letting the legal knowledge advance other sectors.” Kyarimpa urged.
Besides negotiating with and lobbying the profession’s regulators, government and others, offering training and advice and helping protect and promote lawyers in Uganda. The other fundamental role of ULS is to safeguard the Rule of Law, which includes protecting and assisting the public in matters incidental to the Rule of Law.
This has been echoed in several engagements with the society, including at the Uganda Law Society 2nd annual Rule of law symposium, where Nobert Mao, the state minister for justice, advised members of ULS to avoid falling into the trap of corporate comfort and get out and fight for the preservation of the rule of law as citizens of Uganda.
In her remarks at the ULS debate, Kyarimpa reminded her colleagues that they could set the pace as members of the Uganda Law Society by working together, with one voice, to uphold the rule of law in our spaces and to hold public institutions and personalities accountable to the same.
Kyarimpa has served without an office to provide visibility for the society and intends to do more when trusted to hold office.