Strathmore Law Clinic in South Africa
The law we are taught in the four walled classrooms is just but theory. It seems obvious until one gets exposed to scenes where law is practiced and things come into perspective. This simply summarizes what we, the students who traveled to South Africa, felt when we saw how the law that we strive so zealously to uphold is being practiced there. Without explicitly relaying it to the law students, SLS has always placed us in the midst of practitioners and organizations that put the law into acclaimed action. That alone, we feel is a great opportunity that the school offered to us. Aside from the jetlag we faced, there was plenty to see, learn and experience throughout the course of the trip.
For most law clinics, attorneys or advocates run the show but for the Strathmore Law Clinic (SLC), things are run differently. It is a student-run institution that is dedicated to furthering access to justice without prejudice to gender, ethnicity or socio-economic background by providing accurate legal information. Being student run, there is plenty that SLC can learn from other law clinics. A lot of planning and research was therefore involved and on the 9th of October 2022, a few members of the Law Clinic and faculty members embarked on a benchmarking programme at the Stellenbosch University.
Having been in operation since 1975, The Stellenbosch Law Clinic is one of the top tier law clinics in Africa that seeks to provide professional legal advice and representation in civil matters to members of the community and they offer legal education. Throughout the trip, we were able to interact with the heads, various legal practitioners and students of the institution through table discussions where we got a chance to exchange ideas and give insights on how to effectively run a law clinic in a way that impacts members of the society by positively and effectively helping with matters pertaining to their legal issues. It was truly a privilege that doesn’t come every day.
Some of the things we discussed included how to secure funding for legal projects, data management, how to ensure the right people are being impacted by legal aid through conducting a means test and the importance of having Practical Legal Training in a law curriculum.
In addition, we got to present a research paper on the interaction of Persons With Intellectual Disabilities (PWIDs) and the police in Kenya before the students and staff of the Stellenbosch Law School and engage in interactive discussions around the same matter.
With the information gained throughout the trip, we seek to improve our Law Clinic through the development of a strategic plan that aims to ensure the clinic attains its maximum potential. It is noteworthy to concede that the trip also inspired us in a way that opened our eyes and minds to the hope that one day, we’ll be the ones to make the practice of law in Kenya more desirable. Surely, It will not be an easy task but nonetheless, it is possible. For such an amazing experience, we thank the administration of Strathmore Law School and the Strathmore Law Clinic for making this trip a dream come true.
This article was written by Jakes Grant, Harry Masebu and Tasneem Mohammed, SLS,