Learning private law through clinical legal education.
The Department of Private Law is responsible for teaching nearly half of the core subjects in the LLB curriculum. The subjects under the Department include Tort, Intellectual Property Law, Family Law, Civil Procedure, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Customary Law of Kenya, and Law of Succession. Commercial law units are also currently being taught under the department.
The department adopts the clinical legal education mode of instruction to ensure that learning is learner-centred as opposed to teacher centred. In this regard, the lectures are very active and interactive.
The goal of the programme is to produce lawyers of sound legal knowledge, conscience, competence, and compassion with the ability to serve any community around the world, and to meet the challenges of leadership and the administration of justice in their endeavours.
The department follows the Vision, Mission and Philosophy of the School of Law.
Vision-: A Premier Law school educating legal entrepreneurs of conscience, competence, and compassion with the ability to meet the challenges of leadership and the administration of justice in Africa and beyond.
Mission-: To provide legal education and scholarship of the highest standards through developing cutting edge professional competencies, promoting entrepreneurship, and increasing sensitivity to community needs in order to ensure global competences.
Philosophy-: The School philosophy draws from the elements and logic of the University Philosophy and consists of the following three elements:
c) Public Service
In our service delivery, the department will ensure that
“Traditional law school classes teach you valuable research, analytical, and argumentation skills. But clinics teach you how to deal with real people, with the inevitable messiness that comes from human conflict, and those insights form an essential component of our legal education." Sathya Gosselin, Cornell University, USA
Apart from utilising clinical legal education in content delivery, the department is home to the Public Interest Clinic Programme. Under this programme, the students get an opportunity to give back to the community while at the same time learn by holding legal aid clinics and legal awareness campaigns with the necessary support from organizations (state or non-state).
The Programme is largely run by fourth year law students under theguidance of a lecturer. The aim of the programme is to respond to legal needs affecting the indigent in the rural and urban poor areas of Kenya. This year, approximately 47 students participated in the programme and were divided into four groups of around 10 students per group.
The students were trained on public interest law and thereafter organized legal aid clinics in different parts of the country for example Nanyuki Town, Kwale, Kitui, Kibra, Kamiti Maximum Prison and Kiandutu slum in Thika. The aim of the legal aid clinics is to create legal awareness, offer legal assistance and other legal services in the above selected areas as a means of enhancing access to justice to those who would not otherwise be able to access largely due to financial constraints.
During the clinics, the students offered legal assistance, addressed the community on different legal issues affecting them and the action to take as well as facilitated the resolution of some disputes through Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). For further legal assistance such as legal representation, the students referred the members of the community to the Kenyatta University Legal Aid Clinic (KULAC).
The programme received immense support from various institutions and organizations in form of Information, Communication and Education materials, tents, chairs, public address systems, lunch for the students and advocates to accompany the students.
These organizations include AFCIC (Action for Children in Conflict, URAIA, Kenya Law Reform Commission (KLRC), Equality now, the County Assembly of Laikipia, Pamoja F.M (which hosted a legal talk programme that involved the students), NALEAP (National Awareness and Legal Aid Program), CRADLE, The Nubian Rights Forum and Kituo cha Sheria.
Research and Collaborations
REDD+ Law Project in Kenya
The University of Cambridge Centre for Climate Change and Kenyatta University School of Law have been working on a project on “Creating an Enabling Legal Environment for REDD+ Investments in Kenya”. Details of the project, the project report and publications can be accessed at this link.
The Kenya REDD+ Law project is an initiative of the University of Cambridge Centre for Climate Change. REDD+ is one of several different strategies to address climate change that Parties to the UNFCCC have developed as part of their mitigation commitments. REDD+ is primarily intended to be a mechanism to channel funding (both public and private) for reducing emissions from the forest sector; however, its implementation is also expected to have numerous co-benefits.