By Muthomi Thiankolu
Just for the record, not all law firms employ their pupils and associates on terms akin to servitude. I got my first associateship job with Mohammed Muigai Advocates (hereinafter, “the Firm”), ten years ago.
The Firm gave me the freedom to draft the employment contract, and a leeway on the starting salary and other terms of employment.
The perks for the associateship job included, among other things: (i) a commission on the net legal fees earned in every file I worked on; (ii) medical insurance cover for myself and my dependents; (iii) a smart phone; and (iv) a post-paid telephone line. I also got a car grant within four months of the commencement of the job.
When I got a Commonwealth Scholarship, six months after the commencement of the Associateship job, the Firm assured me that I could proceed to the University of Warwick with the assurance that I would have a job upon and whenever I chose to return. And true to their word, the Firm unconditionally reabsorbed me upon return from Warwick. In fact, I did not just get back my old Associateship job. I got a promotion. Specifically, the Firm gave me a junior (i.e. salaried) partnership. And a whole department, properly staffed and equipped, to run.
The perks for the junior partnership were largely similar to those of the associateship, but enhanced to reflect my new status. They junior partnership also came with the option of club membership, styled as “Nairobi Club or equivalent,” paid by the Firm. Additionally, the Firm allowed me to take a side job, as a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi School of Law.
The rationale for this was to give me an opportunity to put the knowledge I had gained at the University of Warwick to good use. The only condition for the side job was that I would manage my affairs in such a way as to ensure that the department I was running at the Firm did not suffer from neglect due to my commitments at the University of Nairobi School of Law.
When I left the Firm to set up Muthomi & Karanja Advocates in 2012, the Firm allowed me to take all the uncompleted files that I was handling. More importantly, the Firm allowed me to collect, in the name of Muthomi & Karanja Advocates, all the outstanding professional fees for those files. The Firm also assured the respective clients that my new Firm, Muthomi & Karanja Advocates, had the technical and professional capability to complete all the outstanding tasks in the files that I carried away.
The Firm continued, and continues, to refer many useful clients-both national and international-to Muthomi & Karanja Advocates.
Although we do not have the wherewithal of the Firm, we always strive, within our means, to abide by the standards that I learnt there. In other words, Muthomi & Karanja Advocates always strive-within our means-to pay and treat our pupils, associates and other staff fairly. And with the dignity that they deserve.
Important Note: Muthomi & Karanja Advocates do not currently have vacancies for pupillage and associateship.