Our Legal Aid Clinic Program

Our Legal Aid Clinic Program

- By M C Getanda; Chair Public Law

As a Faculty of Law, we are prepared to produce lawyers who are aware that being a lawyer is not only a profession but a calling.

Law is a noble profession which requires very high skills including human relations. We encourage our law students to organize legal awareness classes under the supervision of faculty members. We also encourage them to identify the issues that require legal awareness. Owing to their training and exposure, students have often identified issues touching on human rights and access to justice.

This is just an indication of our students’ readiness to empower the community. With a well-structured project funded by the UNDP-Amkeni Wakenya, our students are able to participate in this noble service.

Why do we offer Legal Aid?

As a faculty we firmly believe that legal education has to take the students out of the classroom into the society. This will enable them to be fully prepared to successfully undertake their professional duties as lawyers. It is then that they would understand the societal needs and problems of the people whom they will interact with. We believe this is an exposure to the students on how the law interplays and responds to the real life situations that would bring out practical application to the legal education. Legal aid is the promise of assistance to the people who are otherwise unable to afford legal representation and access to other court and other just systems. A person cannot be able to represent himself/herself because of poverty and poverty should not be a barrier to access justice. Legal aid therefore ensures that there is equality for all before the law which equality is not limited to the right to legal representation and right to fair trial.

As a faculty, we believe that a student undergoing training as a lawyer is expected to work for the interest of the poor, for the marginalized and for the vulnerable groups. We therefore prepare our students to be poor-friendly, pro-marginalized and also do some pro bono work for the interest of aforesaid groups of people. This will be a service to the society. The inner feeling that drives one to do good things for himself/herself is the same feeling that will drive the same person to do good things for others as well. This is part of the spirit of our legal aid clinic program.

How do we organize?

We have our law students associate by coming together and form groups to establish legal aid clinics. As they organize themselves, they focus on specific communities, villages, estates and other slum areas where most vulnerable groups stay. We make wide publicity about our clinics and arrange by soliciting help of the media houses, county government of Nakuru, local courts, churches and collaborate with Rift Valley Law Society within Nakuru County. The students are divided into small groups and assigned various areas of law to focus on. Each group of students is guided by a team of senior faculty members. We advise our students to exhibit patience and have a sympathetic attitude toward the aid seekers.

The common types of cases that we have addressed relate to property disputes, matrimonial, custody matters, criminal cases relating to breach of fundamental rights, labour disputes and motor accidents compensation claims.

Legal aid clinic is first organized within our faculty. Some students consist of lawyers, clients and others as observers. The clients will approach the lawyers and discuss their problems seeking opinions on the solution or remedy available. The observer and faculty advisor watch and present their assessment.When we are sure that the students are prepared to undertake the task, we now organize a legal aid clinic outside the faculty. These we have held them at places we have mentioned earlier’

 What Infrastructure do we need?

For each clinic we require a banner sign board or a poster indicating that a legal clinic is in progress. The venue normally has the required furniture i.e. table and chairs where clients may be interviewed. Our students normally carry with them relevant law statutes, law forms and stationery. Proper records are kept for each particular client, brief summary of the problem or issue that requires advice together with a short summary of the advice given.

However, as we run the program the challenge is the scarcity of the resource required. We are not able to access the finances required to enable us move on and reach as many vulnerable people as we would wish to reach. We are thankful to those have supported us up to this moment. With the support of our partners, we hope to do more under our legal aid program.

Thank You.

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