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Apr 28, 2016

Student Spotlight; Editor-in-Chief Strathmore Law Review, Cecil Yongo

21 year old Cecil Yongo Abung’u, loves all things academic and is set to produce the best of all he has to offer to legal academia. About to start his 4th Year at Strathmore Law School (SLS), the middle born in a family of three boys has already accomplished great strides in his university journey. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the Strathmore Law Review that was officially launched in February of this year, set to contribute to different legal aspects in the world.

 

Cecil’s love for excellence draws from his interaction with individuals who have accomplished a lot in their life journey, who inspire him to do more and produce more in all he endeavors to do. In addition, one of his favorite authors, Prof. Joseph Wailer, encourages individuals to maintain integrity in all they work to achieve motivating Cecil to maintain integrity at all times.

 

Before joining Strathmore Law School, Cecil attended Moi High School Kabarack where he attained a mean grade of A- of 78 points in his national examination KCSE.

 

Why Law?

I believe the course brings together all my interests in; governance, academics especially writing, and my love for reading books which pushed me to want to create content on my own.

 

We had many books at home due to the fact that my parents started as teachers.

 

Have you always been a top student?

No I don’t think so. I believe the people I interact with push me to be better, e.g. my circle of friends who are always doing big things, my mentors too have been a source of motivation.

 

I am currently interning at the Law school because I want to stay in academia. I had options of going to other law firms but because of this desire for being an academic I chose to intern at the law school. I am also writing a paper which needs a lot of time and being at school is helping.

 

What is Strathmore Law Review (SLR) about?

Every law school of stature has a law review that is published to discuss any work being done in the academia sector. Therefore our Strathmore review by and large, is the output of the research conducted by Strathmore law school students and law students across Africa. When I joined Strathmore we did not have a review, but together with my colleague Imani Jaoko, we asked our Dean to allow us to start one. We wrote a plan, shared it with the Dean, he was ok with it giving us the go ahead to issue a call for papers to every school in Kenya and outside Kenya, East Africa. We got some papers from outside but most of the publications we did in the review included articles from SLS students. I believe that people were skeptical to send their papers because it’s the first volume, but am sure with time we will get more papers and produce research from a variety of schools.

 

SLS has been super great to us. They have supported us financially and by reading the articles before we published which was an added plus for us.

 

Editing process

We can only publish ten articles per review issue, regardless of how many research papers we receive; we received about 30 articles for this first round. The editing process is very taxing as we have to go through the footnotes, confirm that the content being said is true, and analyze the context being said among many other things. The selection of the articles is done by a panel/board of law students, before the peer review done by faculties. We interact with the author several times due to editing, sending comments to them to change, before we finally publish.

 

Do you give specific topics to be researched?

Generally the call is as wide as possible in order for us to accept as many papers as possible, however we encourage every contributor to work as hard as possible to add knowledge to the field their writing. Therefore we want to see what angle the writer is adding to the contribution, depth, and how many pages one has to write.

 

Writing this articles

The minimum words for each article is 7,000 words. For those who decide to take up this challenge, it builds us. We learn to research in depth.

 

Everyone seating on the board that analyzes the papers has to write as well, this will enable them to be aware of what it takes to produce an article as they assess those done by others.

 

Employers favor students who have published an article in a review which is an added advantage, therefore students should be keen on taking up this challenge. In addition, SLS rewards students who write and their papers get to be published in the review.

 

We publish articles from 100% students, masters students included. We do not publish articles from faculty. We published 7 articles from Strathmore students in this first review.

 

Sustaining the Review structure

We analyzed different categories once the first issue was published in February; editorial policy and style guide, editorial process, recruitment of new talent policies etc. which enabled us to come up with a manual that has all these policies and will be able to equip all new students joining the review program. We recruit editorial teams from first year, board members come from 2nd, 3rd and 4th year.

 

We are looking at finding a way to gain financial sustainability so that we do not rely on the law school. We are yet to find a system that will work for us. We don’t intend to sell the reviews so that we allow for a wider read spread, we also publish the review online which creates visibility for scholars worldwide.

 

How do you balance studying and Law Review

You put in the hours, sleep later when you need to sleep later. I learnt that you have to have specific times to do what needs to be done, and you cannot delay in working on what needs to be worked on. Once you relax a bit, things can get mucky. Last year when we went to Europe we had to read the papers a lot while on tour, it was tough but we had to push through. Prof. Joseph Wailer says that it is part of your integrity, when giving your word to complete a project, to finish on time and to finish with excellence.

 

Where do you draw motivation from?

Passion plays a huge role because this job does not pay much. Nevertheless, I want to be an academic therefore I am encouraged to do a lot more. Before getting into this, I once googled the most cited law reviews of all times, the ones that had the most impact in the American setup. I read each one of them, and I was encouraged to do better and be a good legal scholar.

 

Also the culture at Strathmore is different from other universities because I can visit almost anyone’s office to discuss issues I have, or questions, or read my papers which has motivated me to continue doing more.

 

Who do you look up to for inspiration?

I look up to my mother because she inspires me socially.

 

Professionally I look up to my lecturer, Mr. Ambani who is about to be Dr. Ambani… Mr. Ambani is anathema to academics, he puts himself at my level which allows me to discuss even the most basic matters with him. He pushes me to work on chapters he is working on with big shots like our Chief Justice etc. Our Law School Dean Dr. Luis Franceschi also inspires me from the way he handles himself and makes decisions.

 

What would you advice students on standing out

You have to do more than just passing exams and maintaining 1st class honours. You have to present more skills to the job market now, in addition to the good grades, not just by contributing to academia but even socially among many other things. What more skills do you bring to an organization should be the key question at all times. 

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