Confessions of a Kenyan Lady Lawyer

This is where my story begins. I got my pupillage in a law firm in Nairobi CBD. My salary was five thousand per month for six months. 5,000 bob to cater for transport and food. The only support I got from my parents was my rent being paid. To say that it was hard would be an understatement. I went into depression. Trying to ask my friends for help was not a choice, they were going through the same thing. We would joke that the guy selling us mutura was making more than us.

A law degree means nothing without a Diploma from Kenya School of Law (KSL). Four years of campus and it’s terrible. So you go to KSL do the time, bar exams and then comes the Pupillage bit for six months.

So after the six months, I got lucky got another job in law firm still. I thought it would get better, my salary 10k per month. Better? No, my parents could no longer afford my rent. It was time to grow up. I would do ‘side hustles’ but how much money can you make doing that when you are busy 8-5 Monday to Friday battling depression?

I never took supper, the only food I ever ate was the lunch that I was given in the office. I contemplated suicide a couple of times. I mean here I am with a prestigious law degree and all I have to show for it is Kshs 10,000 pm. To make matters worse bar exam results came out and I had failed three papers. That would mean Kshs 15,000 per paper for a remark or Kshs 10,000 per paper for a resit. I did not have that kind of money. The stress and depression hit me hard. I would get home from work and cry myself to sleep every night.

Could it get any worse? Yes! I did eventually get the money and did the papers but my employer decided to deduct my meager 10k salary for the weeks I was out doing my exams to 5k.

Did it get any better? No. One of the advocates quit, and I took over all the workload. You would expect your employer to be at least grateful for all the work you are doing. My raise, to 30k. And it yes it got worse with the deducting of my salary without notice time and time again.

It was at this point that I realized I would probably kill myself if I went on like this. Getting out of the depression was the first thing I did. It was not easy. One day you are good and the next you fold back into your cocoon. But I was determined.

I did finally quit my job. I could not go on like that.

There is more to life than working an 8-5 job. Spending 5 or 6 years getting a degree is not an excuse not to do something else that you are passionate about or even just doing something else.

PS: #PerceptionVsReality is an online campaign that seeks unveil the truth behind seemingly prestigious careers, highlight the plight of top Kenyan graduates,  and showcase the positive stories. The purpose of this series is to prepare students for life after campus, candidly share the challenges young professionals are facing in the corporate world and pick life lessons from those who found a way to thrive having surmounted great tribulations.

To take part in the initiative email your story to markmaina76@gmail.com. All submissions will be published anonymously to protect the identities of the participants. Follow the series on Facebook www.facebook.com/MarkMaishCom

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