Uganda’s star law student unpacks her secrets to excellence

By Jimmy Siyasa
Best Student in Trial Advocacy, read the accolade that Gloria Wanyenze took home on June 6, 2021. Wanyenze hit the target of excellence. 

Wanyenze had graduated from Uganda’s Law Development Centre (LDC), with a Post-Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice. To practice law in Uganda, lawyers must obtain a Diploma in Legal Practice from LDC after the law degree. What was even more special for Wanyenze was that she was part of a student cohort whose members had gritted their teeth and made it through bruising final exams that had a 90% failure rate.

Frank Nigel Othembi, the LDC director, attributed the high failure rate to student newness to on-line study during the Covid-19 lockdown. 

However, he also attributed lack of academic success to the abolition of pre-entry examinations into the centre. Previously, LDC had been conducting pre-entry exams for students who want to pursue the Diploma in Legal Practice, which was not the case with Wanyenze’s class.

And the level of pride that Wanyenze has earned her family, to her, is higher than the accolade she walked home with from LDC. 

“I am the first LLB (Bachelor of Laws degree) graduate in my family,” Wanyenze, who graduated with a Bachelor of Laws degree at Uganda Christian University in 2019, remarks. 

She says from the day she informed her family that she wanted to pursue a degree in law, they were supportive. 

“My family encouraged me, guided me and pointed out the areas I needed to be strong in, as well as the areas where I needed growth,” she says, adding: “They supported my decision to study at UCU and funded that choice.”

Wanyenze has always wanted to be identified as a problem-solver. It is an element that gave her an edge in Trial Advocacy, the course unit in which she topped her class. In Trial Advocacy, one learns the skills necessary to make a case for those they represent. It happened that the tests for that particular course unit coincided with another field of law that Wanyeze is passionate about – Corporate Law. 

She believes UCU had a hand in her exceptional performance at the LDC. 

“UCU goes beyond teaching law – or any other profession,” she said. “It adds ethics and a Christian approach to every course of study that not only makes us more well-rounded, but also diligent.”

She says the university instilled in her the requisite skills, helped to trigger the virtue of integrity in her, as well as enhanced her Christian leadership skills.

Wanyenze also attributes her excellence to diligence and commitment. 

“When you are at LDC, there are days you are amazed at your capability and there are days you are questioning it,” she says, adding: “But what will make the difference is your ability to put in the effort required.” 

She says she also ensured she belonged to a discussion group, where they would take turns to talk about cases. 

Now that she has qualified to practice law in Uganda, Wanyenze awaits the Uganda Law Council to enroll her as an Advocate of the High Court of Uganda so she can represent clients in court. As she waits to be enrolled, Wanyenze will concentrate on her role as a Legal Assistant at Crystal Advocates, a law firm in Kampala.