If you want to learn the law, place yourself in spaces where it is practiced. For the four years that we have been at the Strathmore Law School, this has been the silent norm. Without explicitly saying it to us as law students, SLS has always placed us in the midst of practitioners and organisations that put the law into action. Academic trips to notable institutions is no exception to this silent tradition. We get a chance to meet reputable personalities who are ‘movers and shakers’ in the field of international law. Aside from the jetlag and long immigration lines at the airport, there was tonnes to see, learn and experience throughout the ten days that we were away.
For most students of law joining Strathmore University, aside from graduation day, this international trip, an experience that Strathmore undergraduate programmes offer, is the one thing we look forward to. Right from first year, classmates would randomly hurl jokes about the fun they will have when we finally get to go for the trip. When the pandemic rudely interrupted our everyday lives, the trip seemed like a utopia that we may only get to experience in our minds. The jokes about the trip suddenly dwindled down even after the country begun to open up to normal activity after the lockdown. We did not want to jinx the little hope we had of going to Europe.
When it was confirmed that we are going for the trip, our excitement was resurrected. For a school like SLS that strives to develop holistic lawyers, the trip is a great way to enable us as future legal practitioners to think of solutions to the world’s greatest problems on a global scale. Travelling to Netherlands, Italy and Dubai was a great way to interact with several cultures and appreciate the rich history of each country.
Listening to various legal practioners give us insights on how several international organisations work was truly a privilege that doesn’t come every day. In fact, it is a rare occasion. It is not every day that one gets to sit at a former court room where international crimes were prosecuted by ad-hoc tribunals set up by the United Nations. One thing that I took home from the entire experience was the fact that legal initiatives and organisations may not always be perfect. Nonetheless, that is not a reason for us to give up on the concept of international justice.
For some SLS students, their future practice of law was always confined to the Kenyan jurisdiction. The possibility of foreseeing themselves practice law on the international sphere became a reality as a result of the trip. Some of the legal officers in the institutions we visited showed us how we can get opportunities to intern or even work at their organisations. To be honest, the process didn’t seem as cumbersome as most of us envisioned. Interacting with international lawyers, reminded us as lawyers of the fact that for one to thrive in any occupation, passion is essential. Throughout the several lectures, you could easily tell that the lecturers and legal experts love what they do as a profession.
One interesting bit of the trip that is not mentioned most times is opportunity we as students get to interact with our lecturers beyond the four walls of Sir Thomas Moore Building. From the time that we join the law school, we only get to see the academic in them. For the 10 days that we were away, we got to see the fun side of them. Additionally, we got to listen to their experiences when they travelled to some of these places for the very first time.
A memorable moment during the entire time we spent at the Netherlands was the dinners that are hosted by reputable personalities in the world, most of whom are contributing towards enhancing justice across the world. The simplicity and humility with which they open the doors of their homes is quiet memorable. Getting to listen to their experiences and have a light moment with them is really amazing. A couple of my classmates and I got the honour to have dinner with Simon Minks- the Director of Public Prosecutions of the Netherlands among other distinguished individuals. It was an evening not to forget.
All in all, I believe that the trip did inspire some of us from the graduating class to venture into the field of international law. For others, it served as motivation to develop local initiatives that will improve the legal systems within Kenya. It may not be a simple task but for those that are passionate and determined, they will surely do greater things in the legal profession. For such a memorable experience, I would like to thank the administration of Strathmore Law School for making the trip a possibility.
This article was written by Elvis Cosmos, #Classof2022 SLS.
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