A conversation with Hezekiah Mubiru on applying for clerkship and LDC

Q- Tell us about yourself, where you studied and what you do

A- My name is Hezekiah Mubiru and I am a Ugandan who was born and raised in Uganda. I am a lawyer by profession. I completed my undergraduate LLB at Makerere University School of Law and soon thereafter undertook a post graduate diploma in Legal Practice at the Law Development Centre which I completed in August 2019. Currently I am a lawyer practising with Bowmans (AF Mpanga Advocates), the Uganda office of a larger pan African legal outfit with offices across 7 jurisdictions in Africa largely based in South Africa. I am part of both the Dispute Resolution and Corporate teams at the firm where I am exposed to almost all areas of the law.

Q- What made you want to be a lawyer? 

A- I don’t think that I actually wanted to become one. Growing up I wanted to be a Doctor but that started taking a rather wrong turn in High School when mathematics used to give me the hardest time. I had to abandon my medical dreams then because I had zero interest in numbers but still, I didn’t want to be lawyer as such. But this one time in my literature class at A level, in one of the books that we studied, the teacher made us play out a Court room trial and you had to prepare your questions in the form of a cross exam for the other side. She also asked what the prize should be for the best ‘lawyer’. I was very engrossed in the exercise and excited about it, I won the prize which we had all agreed as the class would be recognition in front of the whole school, and everyone claps for you. Looking back, we could have asked for a better prize, but the prize was enough encouragement for everyone I think its after that experience that I was now leaning towards law, so I worked hard to get into law school.

Q- Did you do any work experience or internships during your studies and how did this prepare you for the working world? 

A- Yes, I did quite a handful and I believe they exposed me a lot to what happened outside of the school setting, to me they seemed like different worlds. It was great to have the work experience alongside school because you now had expectations of what the outside world could be once you left school and it also does a lot for your ambition and aspiration which is a good thing to have in the youthful days. In my early days at law school, I undertook a 3-month internship with Dfcu Bank I worked in their credit department and learned a lot about banking law and credit.

I then took another internship at the Supreme Court in the Chambers of Justice Eldad Mwangusya, who is now retired and that was a very great experience that drew me more to the law and inspired my current path. Seeing lawyers you admire argue before the Justices of the Supreme Court and later a Justice sharing views of those arguments with you and seeking your opinion on the same builds your confidence and creates an appreciation of the law which you definitely can not acquire at any law school independently. I also undertook an internship at the end of my undergraduate with a senior criminal lawyer and this exposed me to a great deal of court room practice which unbeknownst to me was a great addition for my training at the Law Development Centre since it’s a very practical course. As practical as the law can get.

Q- What advice would you give to your younger self before starting your undergrad studies? 

A- Looking back at my younger self, there are not many things I would have done differently but I would definitely tell my younger self to always keep going and keep the eyes on the prize, whatever the prize could be and amidst all the hardships, doubt and uncertainity.

Q- Outside of your degree, what societies and activities were you a part of? 

A- I was unfortunate that I did not live on campus throughout my undergraduate. The university was a short commute from my home so except school activities (of which I missed a lot in the beginning) I was not able to be a part of m(any) societies but I took part in an occasional debate to replace a friend who could not make it. (True story) and you don’t want to know how it ends when you go unprepared for a debate his teammate was of course very angry at me.

Q- What advice would you give to our members applying for clerkship? 

A- Clerkship is your first professional foray as a practicing lawyer and I would advise any lawyer applying for it to have a long term view of their career and not treat it as just a thing you are ticking off the box so that you complete the Bar course. It helps to make your research because this will help you to know when and how to apply, build connections with people where you wish to apply and have the confidence to be rejected. Rejection is just re-direction. The things that you learn in your early days of practice I believe build the basics of your practice, so if you build weak basics, it is likely your practice will be defined by the same basics. So my advice would be to treat clerkship as the foundation of your practice and you will be a step ahead.

Q- What advice do you have for our members who are going to start LDC? 

A- Form my own experience, the advice would be dedication and building a community of fellow students. Being at LDC is like a full-time job, you have an 8-5pm schedule every day and you spend the entire night preparing for the 8-5 the next day. So, you must be dedicated and committed, more than you have ever been in your life. The community of students around you with whom you are studying the bar enables you to get through the daily hurdles because what you don’t know, your colleague could be knowing. Your weaknesses are hidden in a team and your strengths are amplified. It’s a very great place to harness connections as these are the people who graduate into the field and you always need their help, assistance and counsel many years after the Bar Course.

Q- How do you stay focused? 

A- Waking up early and centering your mind helps to be focused every day. I can’t say there is a prescribed way to center your mind but it could just be a routine that you have, maybe you do some exercise, maybe you read scripture, maybe you take a walk. But that time with yourself and inner reflection drives you to be better every day. As human beings we naturally fall short of even our own accords but having a direction of what your day should be like, probably taking notes of it and checking them an as you go along helps to accomplish things that matter to you. Lastly you have to live for something and must have some values, this keeps you aligned and every other day is a struggle to maintain that.

Q- Who inspires you and why? 

A- Before anyone, I am inspired a lot by our history as a people, whether its on a small scale as the history in your family or the history in your country or the world, I am greatly inspired by what people before us have done and with the great qualities that they did it and the fact that in one way or the other they have created the opportunities that many of us get to enjoy now or aspire for. It also shows you that there isn’t anything so unique under the Sun and that way you can get to chart a path forward knowing what happened in the past. Its like a predictor of sorts. I am also inspired greatly by my Mother and Father who are the model for all the life I live.

Q- What is your life motto?

A- Like words that I live by? I have never considered this on a serious note but I’ve always liked how “Stay Low, Keep firing” sounds.

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