Our entrepreneurs also deserve pro- bono legal support: how SELC fills this void
Since its establishment the Strathmore Law Clinic has offered legal aid targeted at the underprivileged. Our approach has been informed by the Constitutional dictate on the State’s need to provide access to justice to all and sundry. Under the Strathmore Entrepreneurial Law Clinic (dubbed SELC), we have understood access to justice as including facilitating access to legal support services by entrepreneurs. This is in tandem with the fact that legal support services to entrepreneurs provides the opportunity to unlock value in entrepreneurial activities that are useful in promoting socio-economic rights as envisaged under Article 43 of the 2010 Constitution.
We are not alone in our efforts. Aided by our partners, Queen Mary University of London and about two dozen advocates practicing in Kenya, we look forward to giving the much-needed legal support services to entrepreneurs in Kenya. We have undergone significant training for the tasks ahead and look forward to implementation, commencing this week, with a lot of excitement. We sampled a few perspectives from the student advisors, who had this to say:
“The SELC project means that I get the opportunity to help in supporting local communities whose goal is to have a strong entrepreneurial base and being able to go back and to see whether the legal advice given to them is helpful through a review of the results.” Kathrine Nyamwaro
“This project for me has two meanings. One is that it is a real opportunity for me to engage in work that I also want to do in the future. I am interested in getting involved in corporate work and this is a glimpse of what is to come. Secondly, the project allows us to help entrepreneurs who would otherwise not be able to access this information. It is great to be in a position where we can help others even with the little knowledge I have.” Dickson Muthee
Through the SELC project, student advisors will be afforded a glimpse of legal practice. We shall have the opportunity to interview clients, identify legal issues, and draft a legal opinion. This is all done under the supervision of advocates we are partnering with. We have also partnered with @iBizAfrica and a few Strathmore University alumni, who now form our first cohort of clients.
After the client interview, student advisors will retire to draft a legal opinion based on their research and consultation with the supervisors. As law students, we focus on studying the law and not so much applying it in real-life situations. Hence, adjusting to the life of a practicing lawyer becomes hard as it involves much more than just knowing the law. This is the unique opportunity that this project brings as we get to apply the law to real-life situations.
Having finished the first part of the programme which was the training, I am definitely in a better position than I was at the beginning of the training. The time and effort that was taken by each of the speakers to prepare and teach us about various aspects of the law ranging from tax law to intellectual property law are truly inspiring. Through these training sessions, we have been able to gather a substantial amount of legal information which will be helpful in assisting our clients.
This could not have been possible without the effort of all members of the team who have certainly toiled behind the scenes. In a nutshell, we as the student advisors are looking forward to the actualisation of this project; and have to all intent and purposes to do it justice! We hope that this project will run every year so that more Strathmore Law Clinicians will have the opportunity to apply the law and expand their legal knowledge and assist our entrepreneurs with legal solutions.
This article was written by Nduta Muhindi – Student Advisor
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