It was recently revealed that the Kenyan judiciary is in advanced stages to allow Rwandan and Burundian lawyers to plead cases in the east African country, a significant move towards East African Community integration. ALSO READ Kenya in process to unblock practice of Rwandan lawyers on its territory The EAC Common Market Protocol, one of the four pillars of the regional bloc’s integration process, is very explicit on this matter, where in its article 10 calls for partner states to open their markets to professionals from other states without any form of discrimination. Rwanda has opened up for lawyers from other member states and this should be the spirit for all other countries in the bloc. Currently, over 400 legal practitioners from different countries – including almost all EAC states – appear on the roll of Rwanda Bar Association. ALSO READ: Regional legal fraternity calls out Kenya for locking out Rwandan lawyers However, some countries in the region have refused to reciprocate. In fact, the Law Society of Kenya has even refused to admit Kenyans who have membership of the Rwanda Bar Association. Other countries in the bloc have refused to admit Rwandan and Burundian advocates under the guise of having received different training where Rwanda has a hybrid of civil and common law system. On the other hand, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania practice common law. ALSO READ: Bar Association refutes claims of lack of reciprocity agreement with Kenya However, the legal system should not be an issue in this age and era, where you will find an US-trained lawyer practicing with ease in France, or a lawyer trained in Britain practicing in Belgium. Why then can’t a lawyer in Gicumbi District in Rwanda be able to practice across the border in Kabale of Uganda? With good will, bridge courses can be improvised for lawyers from different jurisdictions to comply with the practice system of a particular country. That Rwanda, through the bar association has taken a step to allow practitioners from across the continent to come and practice law in the country, should not be taken for granted, rather, it should be reciprocated by sister countries for this is the true meaning of integration. At a time when we are talking about the wider African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), such protectionist schemes within the East African Community, which is considered the most progressive amongst other regional blocs in Africa, can be greatly discouraging. With the direction the world is taking, trivial issues like protectionism should not be arising. Opening up for professions – not just lawyers but also others like engineers who are struggling for acceptance in sister countries – is imperative, as long as they abide by the laws that govern a profession in that particular jurisdiction.