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The Advocates Ordinance passed in 1961 which institutionalized the regulation of legal education in Kenya. There was then the establishment of the Council of Legal Education which was in the nature of an administrative body charged with general oversight powers over persons who became admissible to practice law as advocates.

The Council established under the ordinance had the mandate to “exercise of general supervision and control over legal education in Kenya for purposes of the Advocates Act and to advise the Government in relation to all aspects thereof. The current legislative regime under Section 8 of the Legal Education Act has maintained this mandate in relation to issues pertaining to the overall oversight of legal issues, the training of Advocates and the conduct of Bar examinations. The Act however, delegates all these functions to the Kenya School of Law as its agent, in the process making the School the most visible face of its activities.

Previously, the operations of both the Council of Legal Education and the Kenya School of Law were intertwined and confusing. The Kenya School of Law was established following the recommendations by the Denning Committee (1962) to provide vocational legal training.  In an attempt to streamline and re-organise the Kenya School of Law in the 1990s the Akiwumi Committee (1995) on the Status and Management of the Kenya School of Law was appointed. The recommendations of the Akiwumi Report culminated in the re-establishment of the Council of Legal Education under the Council of Legal Education Act, Cap 16A of the Laws of Kenya (now repealed). To address the problems and confusion created by the Akiwumi Report, the Muigai-Ministerial Committee on the Development of a Policy and Legal Framework for Legal Education and Training in Kenya (2005) was appointed.  The Muigai Committee undertook a comprehensive re-evaluation of legal education and training in Kenya and made recommendations to re-design and re-establish all legal institutions implementing legal policy in Kenya including the Council of Legal Education and the Kenya School of Law. The impetus for these recommendations was to institutionalize international best practice and segregate institutions carrying out regulatory cum supervisory functions from those carrying out training functions. In essence, policy formulation and oversight within the context of legal education was separated from policy consumption at the training level.

As part of the implementation of the Muigai Report, two Bills were prepared to re-establish the Kenya School of Law and Council of Legal Education as separate legal entities.  The bills culminated in the enactment of the Kenya School of Law Act No.26 of 2012 and Legal Education Act No.27 of 2012.

Council of Legal Education became operational in September 2012 but officially separated from the Kenya School of Law in January, 2014 and moved to its new premises in Karen Office Park along Langata Road.