The East Africa Law Society (EALS) recently partnered with Africa Legal to produce two online courses for members of the organisation. EALS President, Bernard Oundo, spoke to Alfred Olufemi about this exciting prospect.
A senior partner at Citadel Advocates,Bernard is an alumni of the University of Dundee in Scotland and the Harvard Executive Programme, and mentorship is an issue especially close to his heart. Bernard is passionate about education as the most vital tool for equipping the next generation of leaders – and lawyers.
The collaboration between EALS – the apex regional Bar association in East Africa –and Africa Legal is targeted at building the capacity of lawyers in the region, and follows a survey conducted by the two organisations which showed that the majority of EALS members were interested in affordable and self-paced online courses.
Oundo said that the core of the partnership with Africa Legal is to give members access to an online learning platform which enables EALS to meet one of its mandates — building capacity. To this end, EALS is deliberately finding ways of training their members in different areas through a number of collaborations with other organisations.
They want to build the capacity of their members to ensure they are able to harness a variety of opportunities that may arise. The challenge – and opportunity – is that EALS incorporates seven regional Bar associations and has 19 000 members, of which 70% are young lawyers. With such a large and widespread membership, effective mentoring is a challenge but this is where technology steps in.
Once a month EALS hosts a virtual meeting with guest speakers and senior lawyers aimed at young lawyers as a way of building capacity and developing professional practice across the region, but they want to take this further by actually offering useful, affordable, accessible courses.
Oundo noted that the courses will address diverse areas of law practice in the region and will enable the lawyers to keep up with emerging areas in the legal profession and also stay relevant in the business. “From the survey, we realised that members are interested in virtual learning and they’re willing to contribute and share what they’ve learnt,” he said.
Some of the topics members said they would like to see covered in the future included data protection, intellectual property law, international and regional trade, construction law and disability rights.
The online learning programme, Oundo said, fits into the strategy of his administration, which he described as technologically driven.
“Our current strategy is to ensure that we use technology to deliver services to our members. This year, we are planning on having our annual conference focus on technology to ensure that none of our members are left behind.”
As the team finalises the course content, Oundo expressed confidence that it will meet the needs of EALS members. “We look forward to our members participating and changing the narrative concerning what’s been obtained in the past. We believe (this is) going to be a game changer.”
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