Strathmore University Law School in Nairobi is expanding its partnerships with international legal experts to offer students and staff experiences to further the cause of law and social justice across the globe, writes Akelle Waguma.
Strathmore and the prestigious Notre Dame Law School recently initiated a student exchange program to enhance the students’ and faculty’s experiences of legal traditions and scholarly approaches towards law. Although this agreement is one of many that Strathmore has entered, it is the first in Africa for Notre Dame.
Allan Mukuki, Director of International Partnerships at Strathmore University Law School, explained they have up to 45 memorandums of understanding (MOU) with universities and international organisations around the world. “In the US alone, we have partnerships with Cornell, Harvard and Columbia universities as well as the Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice,” he said.
The Kenyan law school, which turns ten this year, also has a presence in Netherlands, Germany, France, Switzerland, South Africa, Italy and Dubai.
“It is a very young law school, but we are trying to learn from those which have existed 100 years before to see what we can borrow, and not reinvent the wheel when it has worked for other people,” said Mukuki.
“Notre Dame is a beautiful campus, it has very professional staff, with very highly qualified people who work there. Their seriousness in running programs has really shown us where we need to go and what we need to be as a law school.”
Rather than look at it as a benefit for the university, Mukuki sees it as a benefit for the students. Through the exchange programs and partnerships, students go to the universities to study various aspects of law, and seasoned faculty members come to Kenya to teach in the LLM and undergrad programs, thus creating a symbiotic relationship where all benefit in diverse ways.
“Our main pillars are: transformative student and staff experience, research and innovation as well as service to society through the law clinic exchange, where we collaborate to help society,” Mukuki explained.
Strathmore Law School is also eyeing the Kellogg Institute at University of Notre Dame and has put forward a grant request to grow its law clinics – created in 2016 – to become self-sustaining and create branches in other parts of the country serving the underprivileged.
In 2022, twelve students travelled for the exchange programs, greatly increased from only two or three in the previous years. “With the MOUs and partnerships coming in, the number has increased, and we envisage that at a certain point we might be sending up to 30 students abroad for exchanges,” said Mukuki.
In addition to the exchange programs, the universities also run joint research programs and intend to have joint conferences and publications.
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