The National Assembly’s Budget and Appropriations Committee has approved the progression of the Legal Education (Amendment) Bill 2023. This bill aims to modify the current standards for obtaining Law Degrees in Kenya. Proposed by Embakasi East MP, Babu Owino, the amendment seeks to make legal education more accessible by eliminating the stringent academic prerequisites.
One of the notable changes presented in the bill is to do away with the requirement of achieving a B plain in either English or Kiswahili for students aiming to pursue a Bachelor of Law (LLB) degree. The objective behind this proposal is to open doors for more students to enroll in the law program. According to a statement from Parliament, these modifications would allow LLB graduates, even those without a B plain in English or Kiswahili, to gain entry into the Kenya School of Law for the advocates’ training course, thus fostering career advancement.
Babu Owino, an alumnus of Law and Actuarial Science, highlighted that this slight tweak in the Legal Education Act 2010 could significantly enhance the accessibility of legal education for Kenyans and expand opportunities in the legal field. He emphasized that the existing requirement was a hurdle for many aspiring legal professionals, preventing them from pursuing the course.
Currently, the criteria to undertake a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree in Kenya differ across educational institutions. In general, aspirants must have a mean grade of C+ in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) or its equivalent. Additionally, they should have achieved at least a B (Plain) in English or Kiswahili in their KCSE. Another route for students is to have secured three Principal Passes in the Kenya Advanced Certificate of Education Examination (KACE).
Students can also start their journey in law at the diploma level, progressing to a degree course upon obtaining a credit pass from a recognized institution. Some institutions have an added layer of assessment in the form of the Law Admission Test (LAT) – a standard tool to evaluate a candidate’s academic aptitude, particularly for those transitioning from the diploma level. Administered by the Council of Legal Education (CLE), the regulating authority for legal education in Kenya, the LAT ensures that candidates are academically fit for legal studies. The CLE also periodically revisits and updates the academic prerequisites for law school admissions.