With its fascinating modules, insights into the global energy industry, and opportunities to build an international peer network, Ugandan lawyer Peter Muliisa credits his LLM studies at the University of Dundee for getting him ready to help the growing oil and gas sector in his home country.
“I think the programme prepared me and gave me a bit of an edge over anybody who I competed with for this job, in the sense that it gives you a full 360-degree view of the industry,” said Muliisa, Chief Legal and Corporate Affairs Officer at Uganda National Oil Company.
“Rather than seeing the industry from the single lens of a lawyer, you’re able to have a broad view of its technical, financial and economic structures, and can see how to align the dots. It prepared me to apply the law in a business sense, and to see how the law facilitates commercial decisions and compliance in a business as complex and risky as oil and gas.”
Muliisa had worked as a magistrate and later practised tax law for a decade before he began an LLM in Petroleum Taxation and Finance at the University of Dundee’s world-renowned Centre for Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Law and Policy (CEPMLP).
“I wanted to use my tax knowledge, acquire knowledge in extractives, and then have a chance to participate in the oil and gas sector that was in the development stage in Uganda at that point,” said Muliisa. “I looked around and found the LLM at Dundee was perfect for my career intentions, and for me the decision was made.”
While the Scottish winters were tricky for someone used to an equatorial climate, Muliisa loved his year in Dundee, and says he found early challenges proved rewarding long-term.
“The way the course was structured, you had to first do these little compulsory modules on geology, economics, finance for oil and gas etc. For me the challenging part was studying those things that were non-law. In three weeks I had to understand the basics of geology for a lawyer. At that point it was tough, but when I passed those modules I was very excited, and I’ve seen this knowledge help me in practice and make me efficient.”
Nowadays Muliisa regularly sits in meetings with geologists, engineers and economists discussing various matters such as drilling, economic models and business cases, and because of his CEPMLP studies he doesn’t feel lost; he has the basics.
“For a typical LLM, you probably don’t do those non-law areas, but my Dundee degree prepared me to sit in the industry and do the work. It’s very practical in my day to day,” he commented.
For the next generation of African lawyers, Muliisa suggests they practise for a few years to figure out what they want to specialise in and how it adds value to the market, and recommends graduates study abroad to help develop a global network of peers and gain an international perspective.
“I encourage young African professionals to pick up all this knowledge, this network, this experience, then bring it back to develop their home country and contribute to it moving forward.”
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