Strathmore Law Clinic graduates first Cohort of Paralegals

Conceived as an idea by student-clinicians of the Strathmore Law Clinic, Sheria Mashinani was officially launched on 8th February 2019. The conception of the initiative was anchored and motivated by the Law Clinic’s longstanding objective of maximizing its impact in Kibra through the provision of accurate legal information.

Sheria Mashinani was envisioned as a “training for trainers” culminating in the graduation of paralegals. In conjunction with CrimeSiPoa, the Strathmore Law Clinic recruited 40 youth leaders from all 13 villages in Kibra. Over a 14 week period, they were equipped with knowledge from various areas of law including criminal procedure, human rights, labour laws and business law. The curriculum of the program was enshrined in the Sheria Mashinani manual, authored by members of the clinic.

The first Sheria Mashinani cohort is the product of a partnership between Strathmore Law Clinic, CrimeSiPoa, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR), Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO) and Nairobi Law Monthly under the vision: Access to Legal Information for all.

Training Program
The program was divided into two phases: a training program and an outreach program. The first phase entailed interactive learning class sessions so as to equip the trainees with legal information. Having successfully completed the first phase, Strathmore Law Clinic and CrimeSiPoa, along with the trainees and Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR), embarked on the outreach program. In these sessions, they addressed legal issues facing their communities and offered free legal information to their fellow residents.

Graduation Day
On Saturday, 2nd November 2019, the families and friends of the 26 graduands who made up the first Sheria Mashinani cohort assembled at the Microsoft Auditorium to celebrate with their loved ones. What stood out in the trainees was the joy, passion and resilience they exuded. some of who, by their own attestation, was their first time in a graduation gown. In spite of the passing on of one of the leaders, Yasmin Yusuf Ali, they vowed to forge a path honouring her legacy. One by one, as the names of the graduands were called out to receive their credentials, the excitement in the auditorium was palpable as they cheered each other on.

In his welcoming remarks, Ag. Dean, Strathmore Law School, Prof. Borja Lopez Jurardo, drew reference from the works of St. Josemaría Escrivá, the founder of Strathmore University, on service to humanity. He prayed for the trainees.

The chief guest, KNCHR commissioner, Jedidah Waruhiu, congratulated the trainees for answering the call to service. In her address, she urged them to uphold high standards of courage, integrity and wisdom noting the deficit in the number of paralegals in Kenya today. She congratulated Strathmore Law School for the initiative noting that it was history in the making. Her sentiments were echoed by the founder and director of CrimeSiPoa, Pete Ouko, whose visionary leadership and guidance made Sheria Mashinani a success. Strathmore Law Clinic Faculty Director, Emmah Senge, Clinic President, Abdulmalik Adan; and clinician Daphine Lekipaika were honoured by the trainees for the key roles they played during the program.

The future of Sheria Mashinani
With the graduation of the first cohort, plans are already underway for the next cohort as new partners join Sheria Mashinani. The growth of the initiative and clinic in general is central to its vision. The law firm, Anjarwalla & Khanna (Africa Legal Network) will be joining Sheria Mashinani even as the clinic builds on capacity. To this end, the clinic is open to partners who share the vision as contemplated in its founding documents.

This article was written by Agage Benjamin, a student at the Strathmore Law School.

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