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INTERVIEW: Every Ugandan Should Have a Lawyer to Represent them in Court – Diana Angwech, ULS VP

On September 12, 2020, the Ugandan Law Society elected Diana Angwech as Vice President of the Society for the year 2020-2021. Diana is a social and very God fearing lady who has served in many leadership capacities in church and other spheres too.

We had a chat with her to get a bit in on her life story and her plans for the Society in general.

Hello Diana, tell us about yourself; your life before this new position. 

My name is Diana Angwech. I am significantly over 18 years and somewhere on the third level.

I studied at Kitante Primary school and then I went to Gayaza High school for my O’level and St. Lawrence for my A’level. I did my Bachelor’s degree in law at Makerere University and did my diploma in legal practice at LDC.

I have a number of certificates from several courses that I have done since then. I have been practicing law since 2009 and I currently work with Shonubi Musoke and Co advocates and I am the head of business development at the firm.

Besides that, I am in a number of leadership positions at my church; All Saints Cathedral Nakasereo. I am company secretary to a number of companies and also the Board Chairperson of Abide family centre in Jinja, I do so many things.

 So, you decided to stand for Vice President of the ULS and eventually won, how do you think that came through?

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Firstly, I attribute it to God because all this would not have been possible without him.

I am actually the outgoing chairperson for the Youth Lawyers Committee and I sat on the committee for East African Young lawyers as well. I have experience working with the society so maybe that was an advantage that I had.

Having worked with young lawyers before, how are you going to use your position to see to it that young lawyers have better pay and that they do not do the donkey work at law firms?

Firstly, I do not think lawyers should despise their beginning. I mean, we all get to start from somewhere even if it means doing the donkey work.

I feel that the experience that the young lawyers get, even when I was doing those small jobs especially during internship, it makes you appreciate the people that you will eventually work with.

For instance, I used to be sent to the land registry and normally that is work for the clerks but after that experience, I got to appreciate the work that clerks do. There is more to being a good lawyer than mastering the art of practice, there are those small things that you get to learn along the way that are not taught in class but they help them become better lawyers.

About the pay, we have to respect the freedom of contract and understand that most law firms are business oriented so we don’t have a mandate to enforce payment for young lawyers, however, as a society, we can actively engage the lawyers, create better business opportunities and firms that actively promote the growth of young lawyers.

I was able to launch a mentorship programme during my term that enables young lawyers to get in touch with senior lawyers so that they learn things that are not taught in class and also get someone to hold their hands and inspire and guide them.

Why do you think many law students fail to join LDC and some even fail to graduate out of LDC?

Honestly, there is no formula to LDC but it is a training ground because it is very intense and there is an overflow of information so you need to be on your feet all the time.

LDC methodology prepares you to argue on different sides of the matter. The very nature of court is that there are always two sides of the story and fairness has to be used to arrive at a fair conclusion.

LDC preps you to think critically through your argument. The end goal is to come out with the title of Counsel. So, as much as people fail, there is a good number that also pass otherwise we would not have lawyers in Uganda today.

So, what is your plan for the ULS with your new role?

The Vice President of ULS has two roles; to deputize and to head the Legal Aid and Pro bono department.

I hope to increase access to justice on every level. We need to have government provide funds and streamline the service delivery of legal aid in order to boost access to justice for all and make it sustainable.

Judges should be able to say that everyone in court should have a lawyer present for representation. We see these things in movies but they should be able to happen for every Ugandan as well.

Access to justice affects every single thing in the country because if someone is wrongly evicted, they go onto the street, their source of living is affected and the cycle goes on and on.

I hope that during my term, this is something we will work towards achieving.

Lastly, where do we see Diana in the next couple of years?

I hope to still be in leadership in whatever sphere transforming the lives of women and youth through mentorship programs and creating platforms for others to succeed.

I hope to continue championing activities that foster access to justice for all.

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