Nairobi lawyer Danstan Omari has been in the headlines after recent developments in cases against some of his high-profile clients.
At 40 years, I began studying law - Interesting story of Danstan Omari
Danstan Omari speaks on leaving the education sector in his prime and his wife paying for his law degree
Danstan has become a familiar face in the media, taking up many complex cases that other lawyers would normally shy away from, and managing to secure freedom and justice for his clients.
High-profile cases usually concern a person who holds an influential position in society, whether political, commercial, religious or otherwise.
Kenyans pay much closer attention to information about them than other court subjects and therefore get more exposure, whether good or bad.
Sometimes lawyers use the term ‘high profile’ to describe cases involving wealthy parties.
Regardless of the context, there is one thing common between all high-profile cases – the amount of scrutiny and resulting hype surrounding the event.
In Kenya, high-profile litigation is usually a preserve of a few experienced, renowned advocates and senior counsels but Omari’s entry into the legal world is one to watch, having pivoted from a career in education.
In a past interview, the lawyer said he began studying law at 40 years, after leaving his job in his prime as a senior high school teacher.
Omari’s second act is not the first time he made a tough decision to alter his destiny.
After not performing well in primary and consequently secondary school, he decided to repeat Form Three and Form Four to increase his chances of succeeding in life.
“I went back to Form Three in a school called Kiabonyoru High School. This is where I met former CS Fred Matiang'i. I did my Form Four, and I scored a division two. My admission letter disappeared when I was supposed to join Kangema High School for Form Five and Six,” he recalled.
With the help of his brother, Omari joined another school for his A-levels (Form Five & Six), where he encountered yet another setback after being called to pursue a teaching course at Kenyatta University, despite wanting to do law.
“There was a facility called inter-university transfers. So we went to the University of Nairobi to apply for Law, but they rejected it. I told my brother repeating is part of my game. I wanted to repeat Form Six, but he refused,” he said.
Omari then accepted his fate and became a teacher. After experiencing many challenges in the education sector, he made a decision to pursue law in 2004.
At the time, he had a few investments but none could fully cater for the hefty fees at The University of Nairobi Law School.
“I went back to Mwalimu Sacco and took a loan and paid all my fees for the entire year. All my resources were finished. My wife now has been employed, she chips in. She is now paying my school fees,” he says in a past interview.
At the time, he also landed a job in Kirinyaga and his plea to get a transfer to Nairobi fell on deaf ears.
This meant commuting from Nairobi to Kirinyaga for his day job and making time to study law until he eventually graduated in 2008.
“In January 2009, I enrolled in the Kenya School of Law which is further at Karen. So I still drive to Kirinyaga, classes start at 2:00 pm. So I must be in Kirinyaga at 6:00 am and leave by 11:00 pm. By 11:00 am, I had cleared my work. I never missed a class.
“Around June of the same year, the University of Nairobi advertised for masters programmes, and I applied. I have to get to the School of Law at 2:00 pm and at 5:30 pm I must be at the University of Nairobi for master classes. At 6:00 am I was at Kirinyaga,” he said.
Omari was finally admitted to the bar as an advocate in November 2011 and graduated with a Masters's Degree in Law in December of that same year.
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