Towards the East Africa Network of University Law Clinics (EANULAC)

In a bid to fast track the establishment of the East African Network of School based  Law Clinics, the Public interest Law clinic at the School of Law Makerere University held
the second annual meeting for the clinicians from the region.
 

This is a follow up of the initial meeting held last year, to kick-start the building of a forum that would for the first time bring together university-based law clinics in East Africa and would also encourage universities without clinics to establish them.

The meeting held at the school of Law 12th November drew the participation of clinicians  from Universities of Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda. It was aimed at  
bringing together law teachers from selected universities in order to promote the use of  clinical methods of teaching the law and establishment of law clinics.
 

It was also aimed at embarking on processes of establishing the East African Network of  University Law Clinics as well as discuss the modalities and functioning of the East African
Network of University Law Clinics.

While welcoming the participants to the School of Law, Dr. Damalie Naggita Musoke, the  Principal noted that many of the students undergoing training in law schools do not appreciate the application of the law until they get through the Law Development centres. She said by adopting the clinical legal education methodologies and mainstreaming them in the existing programs, the students will be helped to appreciate the applicability of the laws  they study. She said through such pedagogical methods, the students will have an opportunity to get exposed to real life, hands on situations and gain from the experiential learning. She  commended PILAC for initiating this noble idea of extending the clinic to the entire region.

The Coordinator Public interest Law Clinic Dr. Christopher Mbazira while giving a brief background to the program said Clinical Legal education program in the School of Law was the first of its kind in Universities in Uganda.

It is was set up in 2012 arising out of the need to re engineer the training of law students to produce law graduates  with public interest lawyering, that will involve protection of the rights of the vulnerable members of the community.


He said todate a lot of ground has been covered citing the example of the establishment of the  Network of Public interest lawyers NETPIL coordinated by Ms. Nicole Ismene.
He said other activities that are primarily targeted to students include the Public Lecture  series where they gain from sharing from expertise in selected thematic areas on
contemporary issues.

Students also benefit from community engagements and field work. Dr. Mbazira said the move is on to extend the clinics to other Universities and that the meeting was intended to share experiences form various Universities and lay strategies for  propelling it further.

He said one such idea was the establishment of the Law Teachers Association and to explore  how the Clinical legal methodologies can be mainstreamed in other law programs. He said
another way forward was to find means of bridging the gap between the Academia and the  practitioners

The goal of this program is the development of professionally competent, socially conscious and ethical lawyers who will serve the society better. It is envisaged that clinical legal education will expose law students to the impact the practice of law has on the people by using their legal expertise in addressing issues of social concern.