Advocates have ended years of choosing lacklustre chairpersons by electing outspoken lawyer Nelson Havi, who is described as a radical.
Mr Havi took an early lead in the vote on Thursday, with his rivals city lawyer Charles Kanjama and former LSK Council members Harriette Chiggai and Maria Mbeneka conceding defeat.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), which oversaw the vote, had not announced the official tally by press time.
Congratulatory messages flowed in following reports of Mr Havi’s victory.
In his concession speech, Mr Kanjama said, “I congratulate my classmate Nelson Havi on running a bold and effective campaign that has catapulted the confidence of lawyers across the country.”
Ms Mbeneka praised him for a well-fought victory.
“A few moments ago, I called Nelson Havi and congratulated him on his victory. I have offered to work with him moving forward in the best interest of the society.”
Lawyer Donald Kipkorir said via Twitter, “Congratulations on [the] overwhelming victory. Proud to have endorsed [you] from the beginning, publicly and privately. Now effectuate the LSK Act, the Advocates Act [and] Chapter 6 of the Constitution . Don’t lower the moral bar in the bar.”
Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, also a lawyer and the Senate’s majority leader, wrote, The nation, the bar [and the] entire legal fraternity expects [you] to provide leadership on matters affecting legal practice, administration of justice and the rule of law. Be a good example to all in words and deeds. Be brave. We shall support you.”
Mr Havi said the society’s past leaders, Mr Kipkorir, former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga and Okong’o Omogeni promised to support him.
Mr Havi was the only candidate for the presidency, who had not served in the Council.
As such, he was seen as a fresh face for the lawyers’ body that had become the laughing stock not only for failing to defend public interests but also for keeping mum or siding with unpopular government actions that ranged from abuse of human rights to infringement on privacy.
Mr Havi’s campaign mantra was “A brave new bar, promising to restore LSK’s lost glory”.
His agenda is threefold: monitor legislation; defend the rule of law, and ensure constitutionalism.
Mr Havi, a divisive commentator of political issues, had the backing of supporters and critics in the political sphere and legal profession.
He won some of the support during campaigns in which he travelled to various parts of the country to address lawyers in town hall meetings and social events.
Despite being affiliated with the National Super Alliance, Mr Havi recorded wide margins in places that tended to lean towards advocates siding with the ruling Jubilee Party.
Mr Havi’s rise to the top at LSK was not an easy one.
In 2017, the society disqualified him from vying for the presidency of the association arguing the had not practised for the required minimum of 15 years since the date of admission, as provided for in law.
The move led to a rebellion against the association by young lawyers, who celebrated his win on Thursday.
The victory has further delayed the hopes of having a woman lead the body after 16 years.
The only woman to lead the LSK was Raychelle Omamo, the Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary.
She served as the council’s chairperson from 2001 to 2003.
There were 10,764 lawyers with valid practice certificates as at December 31, 2019, all eligible to take part in the elections, but only about half of them took part.