Peter Wanyama: Uncommon Lawyer Leading Devolution Litigation in Kenya

Peter Wanyama: Uncommon Lawyer Leading Devolution Litigation in Kenya
Peter Wanyama, the Managing Partner of Manyonge Wanyama & Associates Advocates

There are two main ways law firms and lawyers grow and achieve notoriety in Kenya: either by aggressive marketing efforts of its lawyers (the common way) or by the sheer ability of its lawyers to stand out from the crowd by virtue of their legal genius and brilliance in and out of court, proven track record of delivering legal results when it matters and command of respect and admiration of peers and clients (the hard way). Peter Wanyama is one of the few in the profession who have grown and achieved notoriety as leading lawyers in Kenya the hard way.

As the Managing Partner of Manyonge Wanyama & Associates (MWA Advocates), Peter Wanyama has earned the credit for building an illustrious legal career and a top boutique law practice on the back of his storied and fabled acumen in dissecting legal issues, stellar reputation in successfully handling complex, sensitive and high voltage cases and well-deserved admiration of peers and clients for being "uncommon lawyer" throughout his 15 years in legal practice.

The World Leading Directory of Commercial Lawyers, International Comparative Legal Guide (ICLG) describes Peter as "an outstanding corporate lawyer based in Nairobi, Kenya with extensive experience in corporate/commercial law and law reform.  Peter has initiated key areas of legal practice in Kenya such as legal audit and risk-based legal practice…  Peter has also been involved in numerous national and international law reform consultancies and advisory work."

Peter has practical hands-on experience in handling corporate and commercial law and transactional advisory touching on capital markets law, competition law, law reform, policy review and development, legal processes of government contracting and guarantee, complex contract drafting and review, public procurement law, banking and finance laws; and construction law.

But Peter is more famous for his forays in the niche areas of policy review/legislative development, legal audit/statutory risk assessments and devolution litigation. He has participated in the drafting over 32 legislation and statutes for government agencies and counties. He has facilitated more than 200 strategic seminars on policy and legislative development, devolution, land law, privatization, competition law and agricultural law among others.

Peter has served as a resource person for the Law Society of Kenya, Kenya School of Law, Kenya Institute of Supplies Management, ESAMI, Council of Governors and Moi University in the continuing professional development programme. He has trained high level delegations including Council of Governors and Parliamentary Committees on various aspects of legal and regulatory compliance. He has even been engaged competing law firms like Anjarwalla & Khanna Advocates, one of the leading law firm in East and Central Africa, to train their lawyers on policy and legislative development.

As Peter explained to Business daily once how he managed to get to the top of the Legal Profession: "With the demand for legal services, you find yourself competing at the top. You have to set high standards for yourself and meet those targets. What has brought me this far is my robust enthusiasm and verve. I set benchmarks and meet them. I like it when I leave my mark. I love it when my clients are happy with my work, I have surpassed their expectations."

Peter appreciates his first and only boss, the respected lawyer, legal scholar and former Attorney General Prof. Githu Muigai as his inspiration and the who gave him his first break in the profession. "I am what I am because of him. He inspired me. I admire his ability to build consensus. I learnt one skill from him, the ability to make a presentation. You might not be prepared but if you present well, you will sail through."

Like Prof. Githu Muigai who straddles the legal fraternity like a colossus, Peter Wanyama too is leaving his indelible mark in almost every area of law he engages in from bespoke legal consulting to high-end litigation, from legal commentary to top-tier corporate lawyering, from legislative drafting to policy development. In fact, it seems some of the milestones that took Prof. Githu Muigai decades to accomplish, his protégé Peter is surpassing them it in less time. Maybe it is a matter of time before the pupil outdoes the master.

Indeed, Peter Wanyama has gone on to set the bar in some emerging areas of law like devolution litigation more than any other lawyer in Kenya. For instance, today Peter is recognized as the go-to lawyer in devolution litigation having been successfully handled the pioneer impeachments of Governors in Senate including Governor Wambora, Governor Chepkwony and Governor Gachagua and laid the framework for future impeachments defense.

In that time, Peter Wanyama has not only contributed immensely to refining jurisprudence in many areas of law, he has gained a reputation as one of the rising stars in the profession. Many Advocates are increasingly advising their clients to allow them to instruct Peter as their Co-Counsel to help guide the trajectory of the case. Peter is esteemed even by Senior Counsel whom he appears alongside in many cases sometimes as the youngest but most valued player in the team.

It only last month Peter obtained the court order that stopped the swearing in of Nairobi Deputy Governor Ann Kananu Mwenda as the 3rd Nairobi Governor on behalf of LSK and earned national acclaim across social media for striking a timely blow for the rule of law in Kenya. But where others would consider taking a break to enjoy the view from the top of the legal profession after their arduous climb, Peter is not about to stop. He seems to be on a constant drive to seek the next challenge and climb the next highest peak. No doubt Peter finds true of his life in legal his practice as he once wrote in Nation:

"Having grown up from penury to an accomplished lawyer, I believe in hard work, integrity of legal practice, and honesty in all dealings. Going forward, I will continue to approach all legal assignments with robust dedication, venturesomeness, enthusiasm, verve, with the single purpose of ensuring that justice is served. It is deeply satisfying and emotionally redemptive to the soul of any lawyer to see the rule of law, equity and justice prevail."

Although Peter continues to humbly describe himself as "Legal Compliance Specialist", in truth many more designations can be added after his name. Peter is today a top litigation lawyer, a consummate corporate lawyer, a sought-after legal consultant, a leading legislative drafting expert and one of the pioneer devolution law specialists in the country. As the managing partner of Manyonge Wanyama & Associates Advocates, he has also succeeded in steering the firm to become one of the prestigious boutique law firms in Kenya. Peter is also an avid philanthropist and has supported numerous charity projects in home county of Bungoma.

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