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The Public Interest Law Clinic (PILAC) was established at the School of Law, Makerere University in January 2012, becoming the first clinic established at a university in Uganda. PILAC seeks to promote a hands-on experiential learning as well as exposing students to ‘live’ cases of individuals who have been confronted by the law in its varied manifestations. PILAC has established a Clinical Legal Education (CLE) programme, which is a hands-on learning programme intended to equip law students with public interest lawyering skills.
The public interest law clinic seeks to promote a culture of social justice lawyering in Uganda by developing a consciousness amongst law students of the important role public interest lawyering plays in protecting the rights of ordinary Ugandans. To this end, the clinic trains students in the strategic use of the law, including the use of national and regional mechanisms, to protect human rights, the public interest and promote social justice, while at the same time providing law students with the requisite legal skills, training and practical experience to become effective legal professionals. The CLE programme aims to train law students to fulfil their civic duties to the public on a long-term basis and contribute to cultivating a new generation of advocates fully equipped and committed to promoting the public interest and social justice as part of their civic duties.
The best way to achieve these goals is by embracing the practical clinical legal education model that involves assigning students to work with a supervising staff lawyer to represent real-life cases and projects affecting the public interest. The students conduct research and advocacy on a variety of topical public interest law issues in Uganda and the region. At the same time, they receive specialised instruction on substantive human rights topics and practical aspects of litigation and legal representation especially of vulnerable groups. In so doing, students will acquire necessary skills in the area of legal representation of indigent clients and the development of strategic legal and advocacy strategies to introduce necessary legal and policy reforms.