I remember there being so much excitement in the air. It felt like we were at a party. A party in Franceschi’s house because he stood welcoming and chatting with everyone. He was so excited to have us all there, it was infectious. A group of 19- year- olds sitting in the SBS atrium, meeting for the first time and thinking ‘these are going to be my classmates’.
The narration is told of a day in June, 10 years ago, when we all gathered to embark on a journey. A journey whose ups and downs none of us could have foretold. This is the story of that journey – A decade worth of milestones, changes, triumphs and lessons. A story told in celebration of 10 years of excellence.
The group of 19-year-olds, filled with excitement and wonder, were the pioneer class of Strathmore Law School. A true hallmark of the SLS journey, but not quite the beginning.
The SLS Dream
We start in a small room in the Strathmore University student center, as told by Prof. Luis Franceschi, where the idea for SLS grew into a curriculum and eventually a fully-fledged school. He credits Prof. Patricia Kameri – Mbote for the exceptional curriculum. When Prof. Kameri – Mbote turned to Prof. Franceschi and said, “Luis, you have to be the dean of the school” he hesitated. How could he be the boss, when he had been her student? An obstacle we’re glad they overcame, because Luis Francechi went on to be the Founding Dean and is spoken of with fondness by past and present students of the law school. They refer to him simply as Franceschi.
The dream had come to life, the students were enrolled, and the LLB was in full swing. Year after year, they continued to fill their classes. They brought on world class teachers, who came with years of experience in their fields. They formed partnerships with national and international law firms who to date take on students from the law school as legal interns. With time, the law school had to expand to accommodate their growing fraternity. And expand they did… into the Sir Thomas Moore Building on campus. A huge milestone for the Strathmore Law School, having started in a single office.
As the school grew, they held onto their vision fiercely and guided their students and faculty accordingly. From the beginning, the vision had always been to offer world class standards of legal education within the Kenyan context and create not just good lawyers, but lawyers who are good.
SLS Students to the world
A school’s merit shines brightest through its students. The Strathmore Law School students are nothing short of exemplary. As each new class began, they were exposed to much in the way of learning; both academically and personally. This is true even for the experienced legal practitioners who enrolled in the Strathmore Law School Masters of Law (LLM) programme launched in September 2017.
Alumni reminisce on times spent on campus and highlight especially the friends they made, the lawyers and teachers they interacted with, the foreign countries they visited and the rigor of the course they undertook.
The study of law is not an easy endeavour, but the SLS students rose to the challenge and even soared beyond. In the 10 years since the law school opened its doors, the Strathmore Law Review came into being. Spearheaded by students, the annual peer-reviewed, student-edited academic law journal was first published in 2016 and has since remained the most notable and consistent high level student law review in Kenya. They didn’t stop there. Embracing the dream of good lawyers, but also lawyers who are good, the students took initiative and started the Strathmore Law Clinic. The student led organization is dedicated to furthering access to justice through provision of accurate legal information to all. They do regular legal aid clinics in partnership with some of Kenya’s top law firms and provide free legal advice to those who need it.
We cannot speak of the SLS students without speaking of the mooting powerhouse they became over the years. SLS has made its mark globally in achieving excellence in the various moot competitions such as the Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition and William Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot Court. Most notably, they were the first African team to ever win the John Jackson Moot, beating Harvard and other Ivy League Universities.
Graduates of SLS study, live and work all over the world. They take with them the lessons learnt at Strathmore Law School and fly high the flag of excellence and service that is the Strathmore way.
SLS At 10
When a child is born, we celebrate. Just as we do when they take their first steps, say their first words, make their first friend and go on to start their own lives. Ten years of existence is no mean feat. The saying goes ‘it takes a village’, and Strathmore Law School has enjoyed tremendous support over the years and has many people with whom to celebrate their achievements.
To mark a decade of excellence, Strathmore Law School brought together all their students; past and present, partners, faculty and staff and all those who supported the school in one way or another. They organized a series of events to mark the occasion. The 5-aside tournament was a fun and friendly competition with teams organized by students, alumni and partners playing through the afternoon for the title of champion. It was the event that kicked off the SLS At 10 celebrations. This was followed by an Amazing Race event held early one Friday morning. It was cold and rainy, and yet all the teams showed up in bright spirits and advanced through the course of physical and mental challenges until they were all warmed up.
To appreciate the alumni, the law school threw a black tie reunion where all their past students got together to celebrate. The night was full of laughter as those in attendance shared their favorite ‘remember when’ stories from their campus days. The food was great and the music lively as the Law School Chapter of the Strathmore Alumni Association was officially launched – cue the confetti!
To round off the commemoration of the past decade was the main event full of pomp and colour; the launch of the university’s Doctor of Laws (LLD) Programme. The event was graced by some of the biggest names of the legal profession in Kenya and we took a walk down memory lane with a panel discussion on the last 10 years of SLS and a peek into the coming decade.
SLS At 20…50…100
As we celebrate how far we have come, we look towards how much farther we must go. The world has high hopes and expectations for the Law School, as indeed do we.
Good lawyers but also lawyers who are good people.
The future of SLS is a legacy of graduates raising the bar in law with innovation and humanity. The future is well-renowned research and publishing by faculty and alumni of the institution. The future is growth, prosperity and continued excellence in the legal profession.
Congratulations to Strathmore Law School on a decade of excellence.
This article was written by Celia Kinuthia.
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